Achieving your dream – Where to Start

Big list of listsSo how did I begin? How did I go from full time gainful employment to getting on a plane with Warrior Princess and three kids for a year-long trip? What were the steps from ‘maybe one day’ to ‘I can do this’ to ‘I’m making it happen’ to ‘We’re on our way’?

If you have build castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.  – Henry David Thoreau

I started by making lists. It was a simple way to start emptying my mind of this dream, and start building the foundations. I put down all my random thoughts, ideas and details… I put down places, estimated costs, things I wanted to see. I wrote about things I wanted to learn… things I never have had time to do while working, things I wanted to show my kids, etc… etc… All this detail eventually gave shape to a general framework of The Trip which then morphed into a plan.

Making lists was also an easy way to do at least one thing every day, one thing toward my goal… doing that one thing – revising, editing, reviewing the lists helped keep me motivated and hopeful.

Making lists was a great way to escape from a rough day, a stressful day, from the noise and craziness. It was daydreaming, it was meditating, it was pure escape, but it was time well spent, moving towards an end goal. It was my Calgon and I still do this.

Make a List- Dream on Paper

Start with what’s important to you. What’s your dream? What is the big thing you want to do? Start by writing it down. Don’t worry if it sounds silly or dumb. Just start writing… then read your list, add to it, change it. Over time you’ll settle on something… something part reality, something part inspirational. It will represent both the kind of person you are and the kind of person you want to be…. Just keep going… Share your lists, your ideas, your dreams, with friends, with family. Eventually add in action items, schedules, and more detail. Start balancing your time… away from the list making and revising to knocking off those action items. Just keep going. Look at your lists every day.

Tip: Make sure one of your lists is a ‘Next Steps’ list. This list should have the very next thing you need to do. Usually you would add to this list at the end of your working session, so when you sit down in front of the computer (or open your paper notebook) the next time, you don’t have to think about what you need to do; it’s much easier to get started again and makes you less likely to procrastinate or get distracted.  Just open up your ‘Next Steps’ list and get busy.

A few of my lists:

  • Where do I want to go – continents, countries cities, interesting things
  • What do I want skills and experience do I want to learn and have (surfing, new language, photography, etc..)
  • What are the goals of this trip I am dreaming about – why are we doing this….
  • What needs to happen to be able to get on that plane (these are the to do or action lists)
    • Next steps
    • Finance/budget
    • Processes and systems (snail mail, communication, technology – backups and storage)
    • Sort out what to do with our house, cars, and all of our stuff
  • Kids’ school

Start doing this today. What ever your dream is, whatever your big goal, don’t wait until you put your finances in order, don’t wait until you are sure you can pull if off, don’t wait to find that perfect app or that perfect organizational system… start right NOW! Create your lists!

For Further Reading

Top 10 Reasons Why We Love Making Lists – NPR – #1 is Bring order to chaos and #8 is Relieving Stress and Focusing the Mind…. These are the two primary ways my lists helped me, they kept me on the path….

40 Great Resources for Making Lists – Mashable –  I kept all mine in Microsoft OneNote and I always had a small notebook that I carried with me which I then transferred to OneNote later.

Getting Things Done – I’m a fan of GTD… I heard David Allen speak once. His books are good.  Making lists, is a great way to clear your mind. Remember though,  with this productivity/time management system or any other, organizing your to do list is good, but it is infinitely better to REDUCE and SIMPLIFY.

The Power of the List: Essential Lists for Productivity – Great post to really geek out on lists.

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