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Moving Forward without the End Result in Mind

I am a type A person. It’s a label that has been thrown at me: sometimes to offend or insult me, but usually in acknowledgement of getting things done. It used to be a dirty word to me, or a character flaw, but it is who I am. I’m always pushing, driving, completing, inpatient. It has worked in my favor most of the time, but it has definitely gotten in the way on my path to my dream job.

When I was finally ready to make a choice about my career, I found myself frozen. In my mind I knew exactly what I wanted… not to be in a corporate job, but I had nothing else formulated. I was stuck in analysis paralysis. So instead, I created a web of “if, then” activities to help move me along. My plan looked a bit like this:

  • If I quit my job, then I can start figuring out my business
  • If I figure out my business, then I need to get certified/education
  • If I complete certification, then I need to determine my niche
  • If I determine my niche, then I can write a business plan

I think you see the pattern here. I set myself up for failure while hiding behind stagnation. I absolutely refused to move forward on any task, without completing everything in a linear fashion or having all of the answers lined up and ready to go. I have no clue why I thought that – it’s not how I typically approached the world; it’s definitely not how I approached work-related decisions/actions, but I was uncertain about how to move forward without having all of the minute details of the end result, all laid out with a pretty bow on it.  

I had a million ideas of what I wanted to do. I knew what my skills were. But I literally could not put pen to paper on any other item, until I ticked off the action item prior to it. And I accomplished nothing. People around me wanted to hear what my plan was. What I was going to do? What is my new business? I remember explaining to someone that my plan after quitting was going to be “to plan what I wanted to do.” And I honestly set-out to do that! And I failed.

Starting Something… Somehow

But here’s what I learned. You don’t need to know what the end result looks like – in fact, you may be at a disadvantage if you have everything planned out perfectly. Instead, I just started… in the middle. I thought about who I wanted to interact with; I brainstormed business names; I designed website samples; I created a list of things I love doing. I just started. Each mini-step, and sometimes they were miniscule, brought me closer to figuring out what my dream job was. I did not need to complete things by a checklist and I did not need to know where exactly I was going, it was the act of doing; the momentum of starting; the engagement with thinking; that ignited my broad view of my dream job.  

The end result, once you get there, will always be wildly different and bigger than you ever could imagine – so dare I say, it’s almost impossible to have it ready with a bow, before you take your first step? There will be no then, if you don’t start with ONE if.