I still can't get a post together about MAKE29. That was such a big project that I don't know where to begin (or end), but I thought it would be helpful to just talk generally about why I think that long-term project (it was about 15 months if you include the planning period) worked. No matter what you're perusing, I hope these concepts will help you get started, power through and finish strong.
Set a deadline. Any project (but especially one that will take awhile) needs a deadline. There's that expression "a goal is a wish written down" but I would add "a goal only works when you have a set 'accomplish by' date" (wow, that's catchy!). "I'm going to climb Everest someday!" is a bucket list item. "I'm going to climb Everest by 2019!" is a plan. SET A DEADLINE. Something realistic (not tomorrow) but also something you can schedule (not 30 years from now).
Come up with deadlines within the deadlines. I am convinced that the reason MAKE29 worked was that I had 12 solid deadlines within the year. I didn't say "I'm going to launch 12 product editions this year!" I said "I'm going to launch 12 product editions on the 22nd of each month this year." There is a HUGE difference. The second phrase kept me committed to a plan. It kept me on schedule. It also kept me balanced. A month was enough time to re-group between editions but it wasn't so long that I started to get distracted by other projects.
Build the house first. The second reason MAKE29 worked is that I had a solid foundation built when I started. I had a logo. I had set promotional pieces. I had a website with a simple repeating template in place. I had a newsletter draft that just needed minor edits. The house was built before I started the project and all I had to do was "decorate a room" each month. I wasn't trying to reinvent the wheel from scratch 12 times and that made a huge difference. At the start of a project, you want a real plan sketched out that makes you feel comfortable.
Be flexible. And of course, despite the best planning things will change. At the start of a Big Project, I like to have an idea and concept but I like to be sure I have built in some flexibility. You don't know how it will go over. You don't know if your timeline is manageable. You don't even know if you're going to like the project in 6 months! Leave yourself plenty of room to knock down a few walls in your house and grow.
Document your progress. This doesn't need to be public (though I tend to think making public declarations is helpful) but you have to keep track of how things are going. This could be as simple as a google doc or paper calendar. This could be as complex as a daily video check-in. Do something to chart how you're moving along and be sure you're staying on track.
Celebrate successes along the way. Part of the reason why I think deadlines within deadlines and documenting your progress is so important is that it gives you little post markers to acknowledge as you're moving along. Big projects are rewarding at the end, but they are not nearly as rewarding as you expect. The work and the process can really be the best part. I like to recognize that and enjoy it. Celebrate at 10% complete. Celebrate at 50% complete. Do what you've gotta do to stay motivated throughout.
Since writing this post, I created Get To Work Book! It's a day planner + goal setting workbook that is designed to help you take your big goals turn them into something real. Learn more and shop the brand here.
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