If you’re a creative, you probably have those nightly epiphanies inspiring you to plan for world takeover. I can see you nodding because you know what I’m talking about. It’s like you either can’t sleep or you are asleep and when you go to take your midnight tinkle, you feel what Elizabeth Gilbert spoke of during her TED talk talk about that elusive creative genius that hits you and must be chased. You chase it down with your pen and moleskin journal or my personal favorite, your cellphones recording app, and there, you have the foundation for what will consume your next few days, months or even years. You have found your thing.
But so many of us have never found that thing. In this Ken Johnson’s TED talk about revolutionizing education (you can tell I love TED and the brilliant minds that speak there), he mentions the many who are walking around just existing, not living their passion, but doing things they are good at or things that would earn them their income. For them, setting a goal around achieving this thing that would propel them into a life they love seems just as elusive as Gilbert’s genius. ‘What DO I really want to do?’ becomes the question that stirs them at night instead of a magnificent idea they wish to realize.
I’m a firm believer that you can’t just MAKE inspiration happen, but we can make goals around the things that we know move us. For example, you may have read that I love to travel. I knew this the moment my parents took me on a cross country road trip to visit family in Florida when I was eight years old. I haven’t known a lot about some of my other passions until exploring them more deeply in recent years, but I knew about my love of seeing the world early on. With this in mind, it would make sense to make a goal around getting to do more of that one thing I love.
For you to do the same thing, it would require that you
1. Pay attention to what excites you.
I’ve never been one to get organized only in my mind. I’m a visual person, but also a forgetful one, so whereas audio recordings of my ideas makes sense, writing down what I think and learn is vital. I need to see what I am thinking. The organizer in me will start to draw arrows and boxes to connect ideas and create some logic around what I am thinking about, often turning this into plans that I can act on soon after. Perhaps it’s not that the people Johnson mentioned don’t know their passion, they may have never taken the time to
2. Write down and analyse ideas as they come.
With this information, especially if there are a lot of things inspiring Aha! moments and self-awareness, patterns will start to become clear. Those passion-less people may simply have never given credence to some of the things they possibly considered mundane, like going out to eat all the time at fancy restaurants, or their obsession with corgis (I don’t get this obsession, but plenty people love this little doggy.).
But it’s not enough to know. Afterall, last week, I found out my top 5 strengths from a Gallup test. Now I know. Yay. The next step to figure out what to do with this information would be to start to
3. Do additional research around this awareness.
With passion-inspired goals, there isn’t usually one thing, unless you’re a savant or you just are a very focused person that has one-dimension. No shade, I just have never met anyone who doesn’t have different facets and passions that drive them. But to remain focused and to have a very targeted progression past awareness, it’s important to know for real for real (repeated for emphasis in case you care) what is it about this thing you just figured out you love.
For example, I love to travel and I like the idea of going to and possibly moving to Costa Rica, but before I do anything, I’d better know what all is involved. Not that I want to research and get lost in that forever or get caught procrastinating on moving forward because of analysis paralyis, but I should know more than a surface awareness before diving headlong into that or any thing.
Research will also help…
4. Prioritize and plan goals in order of importance and according to a timeline.
So Costa Rica may not be something I want to do during a tropical storm season so pushing it back a few months might be wise. Until then, I could focus on my other goal of loosing a few pounds by the time of my trip so that I can feel good about shaking my bon bon on the beach. If the trip is in August, I have over six months to focus on weight goals. Just as simply as this I can start to
5. Create an action plan.
Let’s talk about you now. You like to eat and you like corgis. Just don’t eat corgis or I couldn’t be your friend. Perhaps your goal could be to travel to the corgi convention and then do some food tourism while you’re in the convention city. Heading to Frommer’s and Priceline might be the first order of business. Buying your ticket and grabbing hotel accommodations next. Whatever you do, you have nailed down what you want to REALLY want to do, and have started moving toward that which fills you.
Goals don’t have to be around any of the things I’ve mentioned here. They could be more career focused or around personal development. But the more you know about yourself and the more concrete your awareness of what you love, the more concrete your goals will start to become. They may even end up being pruned or altered in the process of research and planning, but starting with these very basic steps will help some sort of focused action begin to happen and ultimately help you go toward what you want with greater clarity.