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I sat at my computer on the first Monday three weeks after I put my notice in at my cozy 9-5 gig. Okay, I thought, here we go! Then, I just sat. Scrolled through social media, read a few blog posts, and then it was five o’clock. The great thing about not having a boss is, well, you don’t have a boss. The downside? You don’t have anyone holding you accountable for your work. If you don’t complete a project no one knows and, other than your client, no one really cares. 

Though it all seems so simple—you hear someone say, “And then I decided to take the plunge.” Most of us just sit and wonder how anyone could muster up the courage to leave behind a stable paycheck and health benefits. At the same time, deciding to leave is the easiest part; everything after that is still work, it just feels more gratifying or fulfilling as it aligns with what you actually want to do. Naturally, we want to be able to spend our days doing what we love. The truth is, taking a new risk or venture is terrifying; and all the thoughts swimming in your mind of what needs to be done can quickly turn into feelings of stress, anxiety, and finally, paralysis. Here is where most people get stuck. Getting past these feelings, however, can be easily overcome in just a few simple steps. Whether you’re looking to switch careers or start your own venture, start working towards the life you envision for yourself starting with the below.

(Bryan Minear)

(Bryan Minear)

Dump Your Brain

Grab a notebook or open a blank document and dump all of the ideas for your business you have into written form. Don’t even think about formatting or how it will read. Just write, write, write. Put down all of the things you want or need to do in a list.The key here is to not hold back. Do not edit yourself. Write down any and every idea that has popped into your mind. If you think it’s not going to work, include it anyway. This will organize your thoughts and free up your mind to be able to think of new fresh ideas on how to manifest these. 

Research

Make use of all of your resources. Look online to see what others in your position are doing eg. if you’re looking to start a business consider who your competitors are and go through their website, social media and marketing strategies. How did they begin and what did they do to get to where they are now? 

Even more important are your direct contacts. Ask your friends, family, someone you meet at a bar. You’ll be surprised at not only how much information you’ll be able to accrue, but also how willing people are to help. It’s most likely here that you’ll find someone who can put you in touch with a contact in your field, or has another friend to help you source materials, etc. Go on meetings, ask questions, visit similar businesses. Learn.

Turn Your Brain Dump Into a Plan

Now it’s time to narrow things down. Go through your list to review it with a new perspective. See if your goals have changed. What’s feasible and not? Create a set of goals: for the week, month, six months, and the year. Where do you want to see yourself and what do you want to accomplish within those time frames. This will force you to hold yourself accountable. Create a calendar with a to-do list—really just start doing it. Create your website, update your portfolio, reach out to manufacturers, take that class. Smaller objectives will build on themselves to finally reach larger ones, and slowly it will unfold. Get yourself into a rhythm. The key here is to create a plan that you can actually abide by. 

Personally, I was leaving my job to become a full-time writer, and one of the small activities that helped me work towards my writing goals was to write twenty pages a day. Much of what came out was terrible and ended up being deleted, just the act of writing each day helped me get used to the routine of it. And finally, it became a habit rather than something I did each day rather than when I felt like it. I knew I needed to overcome this obstacle in order to do this professionally and meet client deadlines vs just writing for myself. Here’s the thing, you’re never going to feel like it. You just have to do it.

When chatting (grilling) with my entrepreneur friends, there were also a number of other action items that came up when getting started—send out two or three cold e-mails to potential clients, apply for freelance jobs each day, post on social media to gain an organic following, workout for thirty minutes, or listen to an inspiring audiobook or podcast.

Don’t try to take on everything right off the bat. Instead, choose one or two main goals and weave them into your daily routine for thirty days. You will be surprised by the outcome small changes can really make.

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Track Your Progress

I would love to say that just by vocalizing my plan and announcing what I want to the universe, that everything changed and magically I was able to accomplish all the things I’d wanted. Rather than getting discouraged, the key is to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you find that someone on your plan needs to change, reroute. You’ll need to gage progress in order to know how to move forward on the next steps.

I tried nearly every tracking method under the sun before I found what worked best for me. I have discovered I’m a visual person and needed to see what I needed to accomplish; so, I keep a physical agenda that I can keep on me. Within it, is a spreadsheet I create each week of what needs to be done for every day of the week. Once a task is complete, I put a little dot in the box. Working for yourself means you need to be on the hustle, so my calendar is teeming with to-do items; however Sunday always remains empty because rest and time for yourself is just as important. 

Before the start of your new week sit down and really reflect on the past week’s progress. Where did you excel? Where could you improve? As you create a new sheet at the beginning of the week think of what things need more of your attention.

I also like to take this time to evaluate what elements are helping to grow my business and which are just total time suckers. If it’s not adding revenue, happiness, or efficiency to my life, I cross it off. After a few weeks of trial and error you will see what facets work for you and which you should eliminate.

Dreams To Goals

Dreaming is far more important than you’d think. They’re what give us hope and motivation during moments of stress and desperation. Without action, however, these dreams will easily turn into the wishes of yesteryear. Take time and find a way to share your talents with the world. Not only will you become more fulfilled, but in turn, you give others permission to do the same.