So you have your idea, big or small, far-fetched or incredibly concrete, but you’re lost at the outset about how to bring it to life. Your project could be as ambitious as starting a business or as bite-size as building a birdhouse. It could require the creative capacity of writing a novel or the straightforward focus of assembling an Ikea bed. Whatever it is, you’ll need to maintain and channel the momentum of your aspirations so that you can get the job done.
Here I’ll share some simple techniques that will help you make your vision a reality.
I Have a Dream! Now What? 4 Tips for Making Your Vision a Reality
Write your idea down
Having an idea is far, far easier than making the idea material. My dad once told me, “If you think you have an idea, try writing it down. If you can’t do that, you don’t have an idea.” Again, the idea can vary:
Open a café.
Build a house in the woods.
Recreate the Mona Lisa.
Teach a dog to sit.
Once you have documented what it is, it makes it real. It removes itself from the floaty nothingness of the head and enters a physical reality. The other benefit: now you have something to google. This takes us to the next step.
Do your research. Rarely will you find yourself in uncharted territories right off the bat. Usually, a cursory google search can not only give you ideas about how to go about executing your project, but also give you suggestions of how not to go about it.
Let’s say you want to open a café. You might find almost immediately that you want your café to serve fair-trade coffee, to not be located downtown, and to target a small but loyal demographic instead of inconsistent walk-ins. Maybe you’ll decide that you want your café to have art but not music, or contain a yoga studio but no tables that fit more than three people.
A quick search online will already give you a strong sense of what you need to move forward with your project — a space and business license for the café; paints and canvas to recreate the Mona Lisa, etc.
I personally recommend that you make a complete list of the things you need to start before acquiring any of them. Whatever your idea is, you probably didn’t set out to become an expert in collecting dust.
Try. Fail. Try. Fail.
I considered including this as part of “Learn,” but decided to separate it to give it the importance it deserves. It’s essential that you understand the degree of patience and perseverance you’ll need to keep pushing forward with your project despite the setbacks you will inevitably encounter. Planning can help you move far, but a map doesn’t do the traveling for you.
Maps also tend to hold invisible flaws and obstructions. Anticipate not being able to move forward easily. Hold on to hope, but don’t put all your faith in a first try.
Understanding and preparing for the things that can make you fail are what will make you an expert over time.
What did you do with the sawdust?
Here is one final thought. In school, I had a notable professor who would ask us, “What did you do with the sawdust?” any time we brought in a project made of wood. What he wanted was for us to carefully consider the materials we used, and how we could use them in their entirety; it was a test of both character and creativity.
How can you apply this to your own project? Consider this: Accomplishing one thing really well will inevitably result in a few other things being achieved either equally or nearly as well. The “sawdust” in teaching a dog to sit, for example, might be that you gain greater patience along the way, or simply that you develop a more positive technique for communicating with the dog.
The world lacks the projects stuck in your brain. Make them real so that you and everyone else isn’t missing out.