This question is especially important for you big dreamers out there.
Dreaming is a wonderful thing. That feeling when the wheels in your head start cranking, the sparks begin flying and the muses frenzy about because you’re feeling inspired. It’s one of the best feelings, especially as a creative person fueled by ideas.
Dreaming allows you to imagine possibilities and let your heart lead you to beautiful new corners of your mind.
In a business context, this kind of dreaming comes naturally to me. It’s why I have notebooks full of ideas and about a trillion (scientifically accurate number) three-paragraph Notes started in the app on my Mac.
Every few months I have an evolved vision for where I want to take Made Vibrant and the new things I want to create within my business. As a creative whose goal is always to build an ever-evolving business around my ever-evolving sense of self, this ongoing time I carve out for dreaming is a great thing.
But lately I’ve been reflecting on my various experiences as a business owner these past four years and it’s allowed me to pluck out some new lessons I didn’t quite see before, lessons that have me seeing my ideas and visions with a new perspective. One of those lessons is this:
The reality is ALWAYS different from the idea, so you better make sure you love the reality.
Whatever romantic notion I had about a grand vision of mine, whether it was writing a book, starting a digital magazine, teaching an online course, selling my art prints… the doing of the thing was always different than the glossy idea version I had in my head. This doesn’t mean the reality was bad in comparison, just different.
When you’re navigating the waters of intentional living (whether in business or not), it’s important to separate these two things in your head: the idea version of something and the reality version of something.
While it’s impossible to know what the day in and day out reality will look like for an idea you have, it IS possible to challenge yourself to think more granularly and specifically about how your vision will come to be.
For example, if it’s starting a local brick-and-mortar shop, what are the steps involved? Is there someone who’s done it before you can talk to? What does it take to get a retail space? How often will you be working in the store?
Don’t let these questions overwhelm you, let them guide you — if you’re energized by answering these questions you’re likely on to an idea that you’ll want to follow through with.
As for me, I had this notion of what I wanted next year to look like for myself and Made Vibrant. I didn’t spend much time on the details, just the big vision. The big vision felt good and fun and satisfying (things tend to feel that way when you don’t get into the nitty gritty!)
So, coming from this place of my grand vision, when Jason and I sat down to explore a different idea about what next year could like, I was feeling MAJOR resistance. Looking back I can see it was because I was so in love with MY idea already — I was already so connected to this rosy version of the future without really asking myself what the reality would look like.
That’s when we decided to break my idea down into REAL parts. The work it would take. The potential return. The impact it would have on our big goals as a family, both financial and lifestyle based. When we wrote it all out, the conclusion was pretty clear: the reality wasn’t all that great. It was a hard pill to swallow but a hugely important one that may have saved me a lot of time and heartache.
Here’s the other thing about separating idea from reality:
You have to be able to react to what is in front of your eyes, not a vision that’s still stuck in your head.
My challenge to you this week is to take one big idea you have and break it down into smaller, practical pieces so you can start to see the reality of it.
Then ask yourself… is this big idea the reality you really want? Or were you just the idea you’re in love with?
Listen, I think ideas are beautiful, and optimism is something I hope I never lose. I’m always down to shoot for the ideal at least as a starting point and still allow myself the luxury of seeing a vision form.
But, if we want to earn a sustainable living as creatives, especially ones that want to design a lifestyle that supports the brightest version of ourselves, we HAVE to pay attention to the reality version of our ideas. If not, we’re likely leading ourselves down a path that could carry us further away from our true selves, rather than bring us closer.