Making space for big, ambitious ideas

Solopreneur Sanity

January is here, which typically means this is the time where we take stock of what we’ve accomplished over the last year, and set new intentions and goals for the year to come.

If you’re anything like me, you’re a busy business owner, and it often feels like there are never enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do.

So how do you go about making space for big, ambitious ideas?

How do you pay the bills, make time for wellness, and still achieve, create, and launch?

Strategic Imbalance.

This means planning for parts of the week/month/year to be hectic, while others are intended for recovery. There are times where I know that socializing and wellness take a bit of a backseat to my creative work.

If you’re looking to accomplish something big in the next year, you’re inevitably going to be making some sacrifices. Instead of setting unrealistic goals, and beating yourself up for not reaching them, be realistic about the fact that you can’t do all the things.

Choose which things are going to be your focus, and acknowledge that imbalance is part of the strategy.

In 2014 I spent most of the year working at 60% capacity so that I could build what would eventually become my signature program. It took nearly a year to produce from start to finish, and even longer if you consider the initial ideation (and subsequent over-thinking).

It was a big, ambitious idea, and I knew I was going to have to play the long game. I didn’t have a huge following or community, and until I launched the first beta version of the program, I didn’t even have a list (gasp)! I knew that putting my idea out into the world was going to take time.

There’s no shortcut to a massive list, a game-changing product, or a six-figure launch.

I took a temporary pay cut in order to create space for what I knew could generate more leveraged future revenue. I strategically imbalanced the client work that was paying the bills, with the content creation that would eventually pay the bills.

Planning for—and embracing—imbalance can be a key part of following through on your goals.

Making space means getting intentional about what really matters, and the willingness to make the (often difficult) decisions that reflect those intentions.

Start with your vision

Ask yourself:

  • What kind of business and life do you want for yourself?
  • How much revenue do you need to survive? And to thrive?
  • What does your vision of greatness look like?
  • What product, service or idea do you want to put into the world?

Know what you want
Be clear and honest about what you want. Theme your year with a word (or several words). Set financial goals for the year which include your minimums to be happy, as well as a stretch goal. What is it you want to achieve?

Make your vision + goals visible
Make sure your vision is visible — some place you can see it daily. I recommend using a full sized year calendar. Start by plotting out all of your non-negotiables and commitments for the year. Then start adding your desired goals and/or activities (conferences, vacations, product launches, client goals, and more).

Get your head in the game

Fear is your friend

Fear is merely excitement that is pushing you past the limits of your comfort. If you want to grow, you need to accept that the process is going to be uncomfortable. Embrace it.

Know your strengths/weaknesses; own your edges

Don’t fight your nature, and don’t dwell on your weaknesses. Own your edges; they’re not going anywhere. Your edges are what will connect you naturally with your audience.

Failure is data

Be willing to learn from the awkward moments and failed launches. Failure is data; what is it telling you? You can’t reach greatness without hitting bumps along the way, so fail early and fail often.

Take aligned action

Get comfortable saying no

Danielle Laporte so wisely said: “Everything that’s on your plate is there because you said yes to it.”

You will have to make sacrifices in order to make space for what is most important. Every no is a yes to something else, so make sure you understand the impact of agreeing to things that aren’t aligned with your vision. You’re going to have to befriend boundaries.

Test before you invest

Test your ideas on a smaller scale before you invest your time. Make the invitation; build the sales page before you build the product. Do your best to make sure people are willing to put their money where their mouth is — it’s something you can’t guarantee, but creating these touchpoints gives you a chance at predicting outcomes.

Automate, streamline, outsource

You’ve got to have solid systems in place that support your ability to get more done. Automate parts of your process that are repetitive, streamline your workflow, and outsource the pieces that can easily be done by someone else — or something else, like IFTTT or Zapier, for example.

Get support

You don’t have to do everything by yourself. In fact, that’s a recipe for disaster. You’ve got to be willing to ask for help where you need it. This could take the form of mentors, coaches, friends, contractors, and masterminds.

Design your ideal [week/month/quarter/year]

Map out your week and get real with yourself about how much time you really have available, and set your goals accordingly. Often the time we think we have is out of alignment with the time we actually have available.

Structure enables flexibility.

Embracing strategic imbalance allows you to create the space needed to focus on the work that matters most.

The world needs your big ambitious ideas. Are you ready to deliver?

Want more tips + tactics for maintaining your solopreneur sanity? We’ve got you covered. Just released: The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook, inspiration and action for finding the intersection of productive and sane to maximize your time working so you can maximize your time living. Ready, set, sanity!

Solopreneur Sanity Handbook

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Marie Poulin is a digital strategist who helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs design, build, and launch online programs, products and services. She co-founded Oki Doki with her partner Ben, and is the founder of Digital Strategy School, an online mentorship program that helps designers create more value for their clients through strategy.

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