“Make it so!” – Odysseus
In the past few entries we’ve talked about refining that thing that you want – that experience, that achievement, that moment when you feel you will get what it is that’s been driving you. This refining process is a fun one – it’s imagining a fantastic time that you want, then taking it apart to see how it works, and refining it. It’s a distilling process, boiling it down until there’s just the essential parts of This Is What I Want.
So then what? Simple: it’s time to make a plan of action. It’s time to take that thing and say “I’m going to make it happen.” Except that as we all know, just saying it doesn’t do that. I mean, I said, over a year ago, “I want to make the Defining Moment into a book.” But it didn’t get done – even when a table of contents was written, even when I gave the workshop dozens of times, the book did not happen.
“Why can’t the laundry do itself?” – my partner, Natasha Bounds
The problem was, I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a particular method for getting it done. And like laundry, marathons, and gardening, it’s not going do itself. Then I hit on the right method , and here we are, several thousand words into the book. I hit on the plan that finally worked, that is finally making the book get written.
Let’s be real: I’m the one writing the book. But it’s necessary to create the plan that lets me feel as though it’s less a chore and more an inevitability. The fact that you’re reading this right now – whether on my blog, over my shoulder, or on the pages you’re browsing in a bookstore – means that it’s working.
But that’s my dream. My defining moment. We’re talking about yours, right? That shining diamond of experience that you have finally polished up. It’s time to give it a setting and show that puppy off.
What’s Your Plan?
Here’s the thing: I can’t tell you how to make the plan. There are so many ways to do it, because everybody has their own. That Table of Contents? That was a plan, and it seemed like a good one – but it didn’t work.
One of my favorite planning methods comes from Barbara Sher, who wrote many inspirational books such as I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was. She recommends a big blank wall and a lot of sticky notes and working backwards from your finished goal. That is, put your Defining Moment on the wall at one end, and then write another sticky note with the thing that had to happen just before that. If your D.M. is “Sipping MaiTais in Tahiti on the Beach” then the thing before was probably “Order mai tais.” What happened before that? “Walk down to the beach.” What was before that? “Check into the bungalow.” Before that was get off the plane, before that get on the plane, you get the idea.
Her technique has you break it down like this, backwards, step by step until at a certain point you get that That Special Sticky Note. You know it’s special, because you look at it and say to yourself “oh, hey. I can do that now!” And then you do it. Then you look at the wall, and you know exactly what your next step needs to be.
I’m not saying that’s your way to make the plan. I’m saying that’s one way to make a plan from a pretty neat lady who’s been helping people achieve their dreams for longer than most of us reading this has been alive. So it’s a good bet she’s got some good ideas. Try it out, and if it doesn’t work, you can always try a zillion others.
Don’t Worry About Resources
This is very important:
When you’re making your plan, pretend you have infinite resources.
It’s really easy to second guess yourself. To get to “Get off the plane” and think “I’ll never be able to afford a plane ticket or get the time off; this is silly.” THIS IS NOT SILLY. THIS IS YOUR DREAM.
I promise you: we will take a very serious look at resources, both those you have and those you need, later on. This is not that time. This is the time where you simply lay out the steps that you need to do to get to your plan. What concrete things need to happen to reach that Defining Moment?
I’ll tell you what one concrete thing is: you need to get out some paper and write at the top: My Defining Moment Action Plan. Here, I’ll make it easy for you: Print this out. Or scrawl it on the paper closest to you and put it in your purse or wallet or whatever.
Step one. Done. What’s Step two?