When I started blogging in 2017, I saw it as an opportunity to document my writing and somehow create an income stream as I transitioned out of teaching. (Note: I say “somehow” because I had no idea how I was going to generate income through blogging.) Two years later, the year I left my job, I stopped my blog without warning and have since learned an important lesson. When you don’t have a clear vision, you’re bound to lack follow-through and consistency.
In full transparency, I’m the queen of big ideas, not so much vision casting. I’m good at executing tasks and learning as I go, and that has gotten me pretty far. At the same time, once I get somewhere, I have learned, and am still learning, the benefit of establishing a vision so you can effectively measure progress and strategize moves. That’s where today’s lessons come in. If you have an idea that you want to make a move on, consider these five tips:
#1: Write out a clear, detailed, and time-bound vision.
There’s a quote that says, “a goal without a plan is simply a dream,” and while dreams are awesome, planning makes them achievable. Think about the idea you have and imagine what it will look like one year from now. Write that down. One tool I find extremely helpful for mapping out vision is the S.M.A.R.T. framework.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals helps you think through objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. For me that would have been the difference between saying, “I’m going to start a blog and hopefully make money” versus “I’m going to commit to writing two blog posts a month for the next year while learning how to monetize it for year two.” The second statement names a realistic commitment and a span of time I can use as a checkpoint to build a strategy around.
#2: Combat the pressure to “get it right.”
This is where many of us get tripped up. Release the idea that you can get this wrong. You will make a decision and whether or not it goes according to plan, it will teach you something. That’s progress; you’re learning and these lessons are important. Talk back to the parts of you that keep you anxious about doing everything "right."
When I sat down to write this post, I was originally going to talk about how I quit my blog prematurely back in 2019, but as I reflected, I actually didn’t do anything wrong. While a part of me regrets ending my blog because of the momentum I could have built the last four years, I also acknowledge what I needed at that time. Having a blog from 2017-2019 gave me the opportunity to write occasional guest posts and ultimately landed me a writing position with Mogul Millennial, a much larger platform. With the new opportunity and my need to make money, it was necessary for me to cut something in 2019 in order to focus my efforts on income-producing activities. Essentially, there was no wrong move, but when we aren’t careful we build narratives that taint our experience and prevent us from seeing the full picture or we let the pressure of getting it perfect keep us from moving forward. In hindsight, I would have ended my blog differently, but the reality is, we aren’t going to get everything right, and that’s okay. No one does.
#3: Trust yourself and document your process.
One way to break the pressure of perfection is learning to trust yourself. This is necessary for any new journey. Trust yourself to make progressive decisions, and trust yourself to bounce-back from unforeseen setbacks.
This is an ongoing lesson for me because I can be overly self-critical. I will second guess decisions until someone else affirms them. This is worth exploring (and that’s one of many reasons I’m in therapy), but, my struggles aside, one way to build trust in yourself is to build a habit of reflecting. Because I’m not the best (or most objective) reflector, I purchased a planner that has a reflection section at the end of each month. It asks me to identify personal wins, lessons I’ve learned, goals I’ve met, and ways I cared for myself, amongst other things. These are good starting prompts if you don’t have a reflective planner. Taking the time to reflect helps you pause long enough to acknowledge what you’re getting done, what you’re learning, and what’s going well. You're most likely doing more than you realize.
#4: Plan for what you don’t know.
If you’re launching a new idea, it’s inevitable for there to be things you don’t know. That’s normal; as you can see I knew very little about blogging when I started. What’s important is that you create an action plan to account for what you don’t know. That could include hiring a person, reading a book, researching online, or taking a class. I chose to take a blogging class (which I didn’t finish before but am revisiting now). When you map out a plan to work toward your S.M.A.R.T. goal, identify your areas of growth and figure out how you will address them.
#5: Ask yourself why questions.
The last tip to consider before launching your idea is identifying your reasons for doing it. Why are you doing it? Whatever the answer is, ask yourself why that is important to you. This second why is essential, and it’s something my leadership coach recently asked me. I know why I do the work I do, but I hadn’t considered why that work was important to me. Also, think through why you are the one to do it. Your answers will help you clarify your focus, investment, and uniqueness all of which strengthen your ability to carry out your idea effectively.
These are tips that have been beneficial to me. Let me know which one is most helpful to you right now, and feel free to share other tips that are essential in the comments below.