1. Your idea is a representation of you
When you’re really passionate about something, it’s not just a goal or an accomplishment — it’s a form of self-expression. Can you see the project you’re working on as a way to grow, explore and express the best parts of you? If so, working on your project will take on a whole new meaning.
Authenticity is power. Stay true to you. Take advice and be open-minded, but make all of it work for you and your project. Trust your highest and best instincts.
Make a specific commitment. Know exactly what you want to produce, and attach a deadline to it. It’s scary to do and can take a while to refine, but this is how you’ll know if you’re making progress.
Also, commitment is incredibly powerful – it's a way to identify and call forth the resources you need. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.”
3. You’re going to encounter resistance
The bigger the idea, the bigger the resistance. Expect to face huge doubt, fear, and hear “no” over and over.
4. You’ll have some feelings
Expect to feel overwhelmed. Afraid. Overjoyed. Frustrated. Confused. Elated. When a project matters a lot to you, you might have bigger emotional reactions than you’re used to. Some people try to minimize the emotions, especially if they believe it will take away from their productivity, but doing that is a little like trying to hold a beach ball underwater. You’ll be wrestling with it constantly, and it’s going to come up eventually. Try noticing the feelings as they come up. You can also try asking yourself if these feelings have to really mean anything about you or your process. Spoiler alert: They don’t!
5. It’s all about the mindset
Because you’ll hit so many roadblocks, you’ll need to keep reminding yourself of why this is all worth it – that’s why getting clear on #1 is so important. When you notice your attitude turning negative, try asking yourself a few questions: How will I be different if I accomplish this? How will the world be different? What is real about these negative circumstances, and what is just my feeling and emotions?
6. Have a sounding board from a different industry
Taking on a huge challenge alone is a mistake. Have someone who you can bounce ideas off of. And it doesn’t have to be someone who's in the same field — you might find that really creative solutions result from conversations with people who are working on totally different projects in different domains.
7. It doesn’t work if you don’t take care of yourself
It’s common to think that working hard means working crazy hours and sacrificing sleep, food, social time and everything else. But notice that you can’t perform at a high level while denying your basic needs. You are the talent. You are likely your own greatest asset in this project. Treat yourself as such. Get the food, sleep, and connection you need to outperform your expectations.
8. Have a plan
Whether it’s in a journal, using an app, on post-its, or whatever else works for you – have a plan. Of course, things won’t always go according to plan, but making one is a great way to be thoughtful and strategic about what you are working on.
For creatives, planning can feel like a waste of time or might feel like it slows down your creativity. Unstructured creativity supported by a thoughtful roadmap can be the difference between “something you were working on” and a vision realized. Try approaching the planning process in a way that’s congruent with your creativity. Use storyboarding or a mind map, for example. Make it work for you.
9. Be committed to the outcome, but not attached to the path
There’s a tricky balance between being deeply committed to an outcome but flexible about the path to get there. When something doesn’t go as planned, ask yourself how you can create the same results from these new circumstances. Who could you ask for help? What’s an ideal way stay on track toward your goal and how can you make that happen?
10. Have a team and people are more willing to help you more than you think
Networking and collaboration are force multipliers when it comes to making a big idea happen. Build connections based on where you can add value as well as where you can capture it. When you are authentically aligned with your purpose, people get excited to support you. Ask for and accept the help you need.
Have an accountability person. Take stock of how you’re doing relative to your plan each week. Have someone who’s willing to listen to you think through this, and who will expect you to be consistent with check-ins. There doesn’t need to be a punishment if you don’t hit your targets, but you do want to recognize where your gaps are and give yourself the chance to strategize how to fill them.
Also, have someone who just knows how great you are and why you are so well suited to do what you’re doing. When you’re doubting yourself, this person will be a big help.