How many ideas do you have in your “idea file” that you’ve either never started, or started but never finished?
I’ve got well over 15, and that’s just the ideas that wound up in my designated idea folder on my computer. Who knows how many ideas are buried in the pages of various journals or even on scraps of paper that are in one of the piles laying around my office.
Of course, sometimes the idea turns out to be not-so-wonderful once you spend a little time with it (before or even after it turns into a project). And lord knows, if you don’t really, really want to do a project, you should either turn it into something you do want to do or scrap it.
But for those ideas that you truly want to create, here are three ways you might be suffocating the project before you can finish it (or even start it):
1. You’re worrying about how you’ll complete it before you’re completely clear on what it is
A client of mine wanted to create a new service for her business. She was excited about it, but almost immediately, it became clear this project would require lots of stuff she’d either need to learn or hire help to do.
I heard the enthusiasm drain from her voice in the span of three minutes.
It’s understandable…projects take a lot of energy to complete under the best of circumstances, so when you realize there’s some aspect of it that you’ve never done before, it can feel like you just hit a wall.
But when you’re in those very early stages of exploring an idea, your project needs nurturing and protecting.
Worrying too early about how to make a project happen is a surefire way to talk yourself out of it.
What to do instead:
Give yourself permission to explore the idea without worrying about the parts you don’t know how to do. Try to create a safe space from which to explore, where you simply note the hard parts of a project and come back to them later.
Not easy to do, but once you’re clear about the essence of your idea, you may find that there are less scary ways to make it happen.
2. You keep asking, “Will anyone even want this thing?”
This is another one I hear all the time (from clients and from myself).
If you truly want to create something, that desire is there for a reason. Even if nobody buys it or tweets about it or says yes.
By obsessing about what will happen after you complete your creation, you stifle the flow of your creative energy.
And there are so many reasons to create something that have nothing to do with what other people think or how they respond to what you’ve made. (Creating is inherently valuable, remember?)
What to do instead:
Shift your focus from “what others will think” to “what you’re learning and experiencing.” Brainstorm a list of what you’ll gain through the process of completing this project…all the stuff that doesn’t have to do with those outcomes we can’t control.
Work on building trust that you wanted to create this thing for a reason.
Believe me, I know this one is frakking difficult to do. I’ve put several things out there to hear only crickets, and it’s painful. Yet now, looking back, it’s easier to see what I learned through the process.
3. You’re focusing solely on what’s in it for you
It’s easy to get caught up in what a project will do for your internet fame or your bottom line.
And then what you’re creating becomes a transaction. I sell you this thing and you pay me.
If you’re anything like me, it won’t be long before that icky “internet marketer” feeling sets in. And don’t forget the bonus benefit of setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment by being attached to a particular outcome (see #2 above).
What to do instead:
Shift your focus to the people whose lives you want to improve by creating this thing.
Again, not always easy. Here’s a question that helps me:
If I didn’t need the money, what would I want this project to do for people, and how would I want it to change the world?
When you focus on how your project will improve the lives of your people, the creation process is about service.
How about you?
What are the ways you tend to sabotage your projects? Is there a particular stage in the process the sabotaging happens?
Psst! Project Prowess is almost here…
Creating stuff for your business is a set of skills you can learn, and the best way to learn is by doing.
Next month, I’ll be leading a small group coaching program to help you choose, plan and get to work on a project for your biz (and showing you how to enjoy the process along the way). Be the first to hear when registration opens by signing up for my advance discount list.
Image credit: LizMarie_AK