Here’s how things typically go in corporate (maybe you can relate):
1. Establish The Big Idea, a fully developed concept.
2. Create the plan.
3. Go through strategic stages one by one as planned. (Oh, and have lots of meetings about the meeting about meetings along the way.)
4. Reach goal as planned. (Or not. Give Fred in Marketing a bad review because it’s probably all his fault it didn’t work out. Someone’s gotta take the blame.)
This doesn’t reflect the creative process, which is why corporate is soooo not a creative place and very slow to change. (What’s up with leaders telling their people to be creative and take risks, but then punishing them for not hitting their goals because they tried something new? Just sayin’.)
Anyway, this linear, logical thinking is so ingrained because it’s what we’re taught in school and it’s how the corporate world works.
So when you go out to pursue a career change or a business or side gig, you try to pursue it in the same way:
1. Wait for your “light bulb” moment when you know exactly what you want to do, without a doubt. Establish your Fully Developed Business/Career Concept based on light bulb moment of clarity.
2. Figure out All the Steps to make it happen.
3. Follow steps.
4. Have perfect business, or perfect new career. And then step
5: Freak out and give up when you realize it doesn’t work this way at all.
Why not? Because these big life changes are a creative process, not a linear one. It looks more like this:
1. Know yourself well.
2. Brainstorm lots of ideas and options.
3. Choose your most promising ideas and test them out in low stakes ways. Check them out as much as you can in the real world – mostly through talking to people.
4. Use that info to narrow down your list and inform your decision.
5. Go forth! And be willing to adjust course along the way.
Expecting a linear process like you’ve learned in corporate (or school) is screwing with your ability to realize your new direction. And waiting for that light bulb moment is what’s keeping you stuck. The problem is not that you haven’t had your light bulb moment. It’s not that you don’t have a perfect plan or don’t know how to do something. It’s expecting this to be a perfectly executed transition and not seeing it as a creative process that will require experimentation, creative problem solving, venturing into the unknown, tolerating uncertainty, willingness to try new things, making decisions without being able to predict the future, and changing course.
It’s a crooked path, not a straight one. And that’s ok!
This is actually good news because you’ll feel a lot of RELIEF that you don’t have to have it all figured out from the get-go. You don’t have to get it perfect. That doesn’t mean there’s no structure, organization, or process. But it’s not an algebra equation. Your life, your career, your business are all a creative process.
Once you realize this, you can start making real progress so much more quickly instead of fretting in your head about having it all figured out before you do anything.