My mailbox has been getting some truly spooky messages lately. It’s not the first time, of course, but I’m still startled when I get one of these cries for help.
The scariest of these messages goes like this: ”I think I want to start my own business. What should I do?”
I also shiver when someone asks, “I want to write. What should I do?”
No, these aren’t zombies asking the question, but they send chills down my spine because they remind me that too many of us are lacking some basic tools—tools that could get us pointed in the right direction and keep us heading that way.
The next time someone asks, “What should I do?” I’m going to send them this list of answers.
° Start an investigation. Do your homework. Head out to the library. See if your community has resources that can be of help. As Jim Rohn said, “If you wish to find, you must search. Rarely does a good idea interrupt you.”
° Make space. If you’re going to start a new project, you need to make room for it. That frequently means you must first clear out some space. Frequently, that requires spending your time on things that don’t serve your true goals.
“What I discovered,” says architect Sarah Susanka, “is that when you make the time and space for what you long to do, everything else shifts to accomodate it. It never works the other way around. If you wait until there’s time to do what you want, you’ll be waiting until your eighty-fifth birthday.”
° Listen to informed sources. Seems so obvious to me, but I’m astonished at how often people take advice from people who don’t know. The more you investigate, the wiser you’ll become about who has the information that you can use.
° Learn to synthesize. Adopting and adapting in order to produce something new is a time-honored tool of the creative spirit.
If you’re growing a business, that means paying close attention to the things you like and don’t like as a consumer and asking yourself which policies and procedures you will integrate into your own enterprise—and which you’ll consciously avoid.
° Break your goals into 90-Day Projects. Give your projects a theme. Immerse, don’t dabble.
At the end of 90 days, evaluate and decide if you’ve accomplished your objectives. If not, decide if you are up for giving it another 90 days.
° Remember this: “Good things as well as bad are caught by a kind of infection,” writer C.S. Lewis pointed out. “If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet you must get into the water.If you want joy, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.
“They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you; if you are not, you will remain dry.”
Throughout our Joyfully Jobless Journeys we’ll need help. New goals require new information, new ideas, new connections.
Don’t hesitate to look for it, but also realize that the ultimate responsibility for making your dreams happen is in your hands.
This reminds me of a woman I met at a writing conference, a therapist who wanted to write. (To her credit, she was investigating and getting close to the fire by attending.) She asked me, “Are there any books on how to write?”
I was thunderstruck.
Thunderstruck, indeed! I’m amazed at the lack of investigative skills.