Rachel is my guest today on the blog and she is talking about goals and dreams: how can we get there? She has explored this topic lately on her blog and I am so glad she is sharing with us here today. There is much to glean from her words. Please leave comments for Rachel in the comments section of this post.
When Randi asked me to guest post on "Goals/Dreams/Making them happen" at first I was stumped. And then I got to thinking about it one night and I found I had waaaaay too much to say. So, forgive me in advance if this gets long!
Because a post like this can be all too vague, I'm going to share my thoughts in the context of one of my dreams and goals - that of writing a book. And that very statement, brings me to...
The first step in getting anywhere is to decide on somewhere you want to go. Maybe this comes naturally to you, and you (like me) think about where you'd like to be in life 1 year from now, 5 years from now, and even next month, without even trying. Or maybe you live in the moment, which is a gift in itself! At some point you have to stop and evaluate where you are and where you want to be. If you have a family, start there. Because aren't they truly most important? Let your picture of your ideal family life be the anchor around which you cast your dreams. And I mean "ideal" - dream big! You'll never reach something you didn't reach out for.
At the center of my ideal home life is the choice to really be with my family. I personally feel called to homeschool my littles, which is a big challenge for us as we are a two-income family, living rather simply as it is. So I'm searching for a way to earn an income from home. Something flexible and something that brings me additional joy and fulfillment, rather than stress (because I don't think homeschooling is going to be all that easy). Enter Stitched in Color. More than a journal, I dream that my blog can be a springboard for a creative business. I have all sorts of ideas on how that can work, but one of them is to become a writer of books. I'm always embarrassed to admit to this dream. Because it's BIG and seems too wonderful for little old me. But dream I do.
Once I admitted to myself (out loud and everything) that I wanted to write a book, the next step was to get out there and learn. I don't really mean book learning. In fact, I have yet to read a book on "how to get published," though I probably should. Usually, the best way to learn is from a real person. Find someone who is doing or has done what you want to do and study them. Or, in blogging terms, follow them. Who are they? From what stems their success? And, is it success? Really?
I realized I had one personal relationship with a published blogger, so I took it upon myself to ask for some advice. She graciously gave it, and oh-my-goodness did it help! I asked and learned about how she had managed to get where she's at, but I also asked how she liked being there. Was it worth it monetarily? What about emotionally? Would she write a book again? And here's where I paused to reevaluate. Does my dream to write a book really support my ultimate goals? I decided that a book would probably be worth it. There is a significant chance that the effort will interfere with my ability to blog at this level and another chance that it could sap my energy for homeschooling. But, I've decided that I'll never know until I try. And, really, this is the best time to try.
A lot of us get stuck at this point. Once you learn about how much work is required to make your dreams reality, it's all to easy for the excitement to die. Here's where making plans is key. Break down the steps you must take into small, reachable goals. As my Dad always says, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. Focus on identifying each bite. And then get started, now.
My first step was to zero in on 1 book concept. Then I started brainstorming project ideas. So far, so good. My next step is to create the sample project that I'll show publishers. Then, write an outline and prepare a book proposal. That's as far as I've thought through. Sometimes I think ahead to worrying that I won't be able to meet the publisher's deadlines or that I'm working on this stage of the book at the wrong time of year (since my book concept might be considered seasonal). But I need to focus on clearing those worries away and doing what I know I need to do now in order to move forward. As in, stick to the plan, Rachel!
Of course, you're really taking risks the whole way. Dreaming is an emotional risk for sure. And yet, for me anyways, it's those risks that others can see that are the hardest to take. When you start taking action, you're putting yourself out there. It can be scary. It has to be done.
When I admitted to you all that I wanted to write a book, I imagined all kinds of cynical reactions. The blogosphere's a nice place, so I didn't really think you'd say anything, but you know.... And then I had to start trying things. When I first posted a tutorial, it was a big risk! I had no idea if I was doing it "right". For this book, I'm working with original ideas, of course, and just hoping that the publishers will think they're worthy. Bottom line though, I've decided to be OK with rejection. And that's essential. Sometimes, to make myself feel better, I think of the other uses for my efforts should the book idea be turned down. Because good ideas are turned down all the time. One has to just get back on the horse and take those risks again. Good thing there are lots of publishers (wink).
I'm a big believer in not standing still. To reach your goals and dreams be sure to keep moving. Do what it takes to keep yourself motivated, inspired. Set before your eyes the ultimate goals, keep evaluating your dreams for a "good fit" and keep moving forward. Take the time to shape your days. Really decide how to spend the time you've been given. Because you can do it, but you've got to actually choose to do it on a daily basis.
Whatever your goals and dreams, I hope that you keep that fire alive. You've got to pursue what's important to you! There will be bumps along the way for sure. But few things worth your time are ever easy. And in the end, even if you don't get "there", the experience itself is always valuable.
Thank you, Rachel!