Life Lessons: Starting a Project

In the last seven months I have begun (and am currently working on) numerous projects. Mostly these projects were started as part of the quest I embarked on when we moved to NYC to explore what Sonja really enjoys doing. But they were also started because I want something that makes me money, that I enjoy doing, that I can do from anywhere. The hope is that one of these projects will further our nomadic lifestyle and allow us to travel for periods of time outside of the US. IMG_7267

With all the projects I've been working on for the last few months, I’ve come to realize that I am getting much better at starting and maintaining a project and I am really proud of myself. To understand why I am so proud, you must first understand how much I love to nap and doing anything that is not considered work. Skimming through my Pinterest boards, the evidence is apparent. The amount of pins I have pinned that reference napping or sleeping is quite high. You can also find 10+ shows in my Netflix, Hulu Plus or Bravo TV queues that have only been half watched. For me to have learned how to overcome the overwhelming desire I feel almost every morning to remain in my pjs and lounge on the couch or in bed doing nothing is incredible. What helps me is sticking to a pattern anytime I want to start a project. And the pattern looks a little something like this:

Letting the idea marinate inside my head.

I’m a constant daydreamer. Ideas pop in and out of my head on a daily basis. Some are utterly ridiculous (like an invention that applies sunblock or lotion to the middle area of your upper back), but sometimes one comes along that’s a keeper! Once an idea has struck me, I let it sit there for a while. I let my brain wander, and later I might come back to it to see if I am still excited by it. I try to think like someone that isn’t me to decide if the idea is kind of out there, or if it is something reasonable. My aim is to mull things over for a day or two, but most of the time I tend to get so excited about it that the urge to share overwhelms me. Which isn’t a bad thing, but if I can keep it to myself for at least a couple of hours, I feel accomplished.

Talking it out.

I feel very fortunate that I have a partner who is supportive of all my ideas. He is always game to delve into an idea with me and really help me work out if it is something we should look into further or if it is something that should be left as just an idea. His honesty is always gentle but firm. If he thinks I am talking like a crazy person he will let me know without shutting me down.

Lists to infinity and beyond.

If the idea gets the Rob stamp of approval, and I am still excited about it, I start making lists. I have always been a list girl. If I am stressed about life, there is nothing more calming to me than writing all my stressors down in a notebook. They transfer from my brain to my hand and then to the paper and the weight is off my shoulders. Throughout the entirety of a project I have a notebook in front of me, dedicated to that one project, that is full of to do lists, notes, and even sometimes math. Lists help keep me on track and ensure that I don’t forget anything I am supposed to be getting done.

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Keeping on schedule.

Calendar reminders go hand in hand with lists. I have multiple Google Calendars that I use for my various projects and I add both small and large goals to them that help me hold myself accountable. If I didn’t make deadlines for myself, I would push things off so long that I would lose interest in them. I need the deadlines to help keep me on schedule and focused when my brain starts tempting me with taking a nap or scrolling through Pinterest for hours.

Allowing myself to stray.

I do all of the things above because there is one little gem about myself that I have always known: I am a procrastinator. Making lists, adding things to my calendar, talking it out with Rob so there is someone else holding me accountable, are all ways I have learned to manage my procrastination. That being said, I also embrace this little quirk and allow myself, on occasion, to get lost in a daydream, or write my best friend an extremely long winded email, or watch movie trailer after movie trailer. Sometimes my brain needs a few moments to recharge and if I didn’t give in every now and then I would start resenting whatever project I was working on. Once my brain clicks back into work mode, I have a good system in place to help me pick back up where I left off.

There is no perfect.

I am a person who wants to see big results, quickly. I am definitely a product of the instant gratification generation. In the past, if something was taking longer than I wanted to become the thing I wanted, I would lose patience, lose interest, and the project would be forgotten. My biggest achievement these last few months has been accepting that nothing will be perfect right out of the gate. Eventually, with a little work here, and a few deadlines there, I will get the project to be where I want it to be. Basically I’ve learned to be more patient. And I’ll admit it— it’s a constant battle, but it’s a battle I have been winning more times than losing these days and for that I am the most proud.

Embarrassment be gone!

In the past when I had given up on projects or they didn’t work out the way I had thought they would, I would be very hesitant to tell anyone. I was embarrassed that whatever idea I had had, didn’t come to fruition. And while it is still very hard to see something not succeed the way you were hoping it would, I am not ashamed of it. I tried and worked hard and I shouldn’t be embarrassed by that. I would much rather have tried and failed than never have tried at all.

What little tricks do you employ when working on a project?