From Dream to Reality: How to Successfully Launch Your Ideas, Part One

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

Let’s face it. If you’re like most people, you probably have vivid, creative ideas you’d love to see become a visible, tangible reality. Take Anne, for example:

Anne: I always get excited about ideas, but something happens when I have to put one into practice. I lose interest and give up. Last month I attended a Zoom meeting about a new way to handle sales that would transform my business into a hub of successful online orders. I was thrilled by the presentation. I visualized the increased orders my staff would fulfill and invitations I’d send to clients when new books came in.  The trouble is, this was the third Zoom webinar I’d attended, and it always turns out the same. I get excited at first, but when I get home, I worry it will be too complicated. It will take too much money and time to turn this business into the book-buying hub I envisioned. 

Anne’s problem is familiar to many of us. How often have we decided to implement a new, exciting idea, only to turn back at the point where we see it taking more energy than we thought? But for anyone wanting to be successful, there is a way to keep going! The answer is to recognize that each project has a developmental stage requiring us to use energy differently. 

I’ve been using the words “idea” and  “project” as though they were synonymous, but let’s define what each word means. An idea is when we Think about doing or having something. It’s like daydreaming. “I’d love to see more teens involved in our church” is an idea. There’s no commitment yet. It’s a nice thought.

When we want to make it happen in physical reality, an idea turns into a project. A project has a beginning, middle, and end-point, no matter how long it lasts. Whatever the subject or duration, every project has five distinct phases, each with opportunities and pitfalls. Life becomes easier when you know what these are and how to use energy in each phase. You are on the road to being successful!

Stage One: Creation

When your project is at Stage One, you focus your energy on inspiration and vision. Energy is exceptionally high because you’re in visionary reality. You aim to open a restaurant within eleven months. You dream about the place’s appearance, the kind of food you’ll serve, and its general ambiance. 

Stage One is a time to put your ideas together on paper. You plan, research, and gather a support system committed to your success. 

Joe: My idea for a restaurant was in Stage One. I knew it would be a great success. I could ‘see’ people eating my meatloaf special, sitting in my diner. I also knew my 1950’s motif would be a hit. I’d satisfy the need in our community for good, simple food. I was pumped!

It’s tempting to linger in Stage One because it’s in visionary reality where energy runs high. Talking about the project can be as exciting as putting it into action. We can fall into the trap of considering ourselves “idea” people. But at some point, we have to put them into physical reality. Stage One is exciting, but we shouldn’t stay here too long to avoid the next stage.

If you’re committed to realizing your idea, you must promise to bring it into physical reality. At this point, your idea becomes a project with a beginning date. You begin by specifying your action to begin the project and its underlying purpose.  A purpose gives your project the internal “fire” that will keep it alive for you during the following stages. Albert Einstein once said:

“All means prove but a blunt instrument if they have not behind them a living spirit.”

In other words, it’s useful for you to discover your Life’s Intentions. You can download and complete this short exercise to see what they might be. An intention is a direction, aim, or purpose.  And a Life’s Intention is a direction, aim, or purpose that gives your life a sense of meaning.

Doing the work at Stage One puts you at the beginning of Stage Two!

Stage Two: Lift Off!

Stage Two is where the rubber meets the road. Here, the foundation of your plan is laid. The moment you take your creative, well-planned idea for the goal and begin to put it into physical reality, you’ve entered this stage.

One characteristic of Stage Two is that it always takes ten times more energy than you thought it would to produce results.  The experience is like standing on the shore of an ocean and getting hit by a big, solid wave. 

Joe had a similar experience.

Joe: Stage Two for my restaurant started when I looked for a site, loans, and people to help me renovate the building.  There were permits and forms to fill out. It was a headache.  Not fun.  I needed to create menus, hire staff, negotiate contracts, and then figure out how to get customers through my doors.  Fourteen-hour days were standard for me during these five months.

When you know about this stage and plan for the “lift-off” experience, it doesn’t have to frustrate or demoralize you.  When it’s challenging to produce results,  you may fool yourself into thinking the project wastes energy.  This is the time when our self-limiting inner conversations get very loud.

In the next article, you’ll discover how to get through this stage with ease. Yes, it is possible! Meanwhile, look deeper at a goal you want to bring into physical reality. Get your Life Intentions Inventory. Look at 2-3 of these Life Intentions that score five. You’ll use them to keep your project going when work gets more complicated.

See you then!

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