As we move from preparation to concept development, it’s easy to worry that you’re not ready. You may worry that you need to read another book, listen to another interview podcast, and make a few more notes.
You will never be perfectly prepared. That’s not the goal. You are ready to move into the next phase once you understand the basic processes of making solid and informed decisions, have thoroughly researched your topic with an open mind, and sorted your information into a helpful knowledge base.
In fact, the real challenge here isn’t being ready; it’s that you’re going to have to use your thinking muscles. Specifically, you need to turn on your brain’s lateral frontal pole, the part that makes decisions, anticipates results, and plans for the future. You’re no longer sorting info; you’re getting creative.
Fortunately, creativity has its own process, one that can be broken down like any other. You don’t just jump from gathering information to writing a ten-year plan.
So, let’s start with defining the steps of this process. Later blog posts will discuss them in detail.
Draw a Roadmap
“A roadmap? Oh no!” I hear you cry. “You want me to make a plan right away after all!”
Not to worry. I’m making a clear distinction between “life plan” and “roadmap.” The latter is, basically, a plan for a plan, a one-page letter to yourself about where you want to go and how you want to get there. It’s a plan to drive from Los Angeles to New York with no itinerary, budget, or guaranteed reservations at every stop.
Write an Action Plan
Once again, an action plan isn’t a life plan. This is just a way to start fleshing out that roadmap, and it breaks down the process by focusing on only two things: challenges and commitments. These are things you have to do to get where you want and what will be involved in getting them done.
Make a Timeline
If your roadmap is going from Los Angeles to New York, the timeline is when and where you need to stop for gas. This gives you markers. If you haven’t gotten to Point D by Week 8, you know your schedule’s off.
This is essential. You need to determine what the consequences (not punishments) of not accomplishing something.
This involves three steps:
- Telling others about your goal and progress toward that goal;
- Scheduling a regular check-in with a friend or advisor; and
- Regularly reviewing your stated goal, lessons learned, and decisions made.
Up Your Mental Game
Changing your life is going to be a battle. Don’t delude yourself otherwise. You need to be ready for the battlefield. As you’d pump iron before a contest of strength, you must get that brain in tip-top shape for a contest of the mind.
This involves meditation, visualization techniques, emotional resilience, and remembering what you want and what you have to do to get there.
Get Your Life Ready
No matter how ready you feel, pursuing this new life plan is going to take more time and energy than you think. What distractions can you remove? What time can you dedicate? What issues can you put aside?
This is going to take sacrifices. Be sure your life has room for them.