Tag Archives: Planning for success

Dealing with Detours & Limited Visibility: Planning vs Living

While I’m not a huge planner, I do have a twenty year plan for my fiction career and three years into it, I’m exactly where I want to be. This month Melinda talks about how to deal with long term planning and short term detours. -Alex.

Driving in the DarkPlans are like a road map – they tell you where to go. Not like people tell you where to go when they’re insulting you, maps (and plans) tell you in a good way. So why don’t we all plan our lives, businesses, careers and families more?

Often it’s because we can’t comprehend that far ahead. It’s hard to get our head around planning what we’ll do in 20 years time. Heck, some days I have trouble planning the next weekend!

And there’s also the “I might not want the same things then” along with “how can I plan that far ahead when I know I’m going to change in that time?” See, the thing is, by the time you get 20 years further along in life then it’s a given that you’ll want different things and that you’ll change. If you don’t change then you’re probably dead, in which case you won’t care.

Guaranteed to change

So we don’t plan. We drift. We might plan a year or two down the track, or we plan for tangible results and things we can see. Anyone here got a 30 year mortgage or a five year car loan/lease? Yes, I thought so. What we can’t see is who we’ll be in the future and so we avoid designing ourselves in advance in case it doesn’t fit with who we become on the journey.

News Flash. It’s not going to fit. You’re going to change and your plans are going to change. Guaranteed.

Guess what? In 20 years you’ll be 20 years older

Think about this. In 20 years time you’ll be 20 years older. And some things won’t change. You’ll still have your morals and values. Some things that are uber-important to you now will still be uber-important then, like family – only you’ll probably have grandkids rather than kids then.

Who do you want to be in 20 years time? How can you design your life so your values are still there, only stronger?

Road trip 101

Think of going on a long journey and how you plan it. You look at your map or GPS, and you plan where you’re going – from A to B and the road in between. Which towns you’re going to drive through. Take the faster main highway with the tolls and traffic or the longer but quieter back roads? Where will we stop for food and fuel on the way?

Then you leave and it’s night time so you turn your headlights on. Tell me, how far can you see? A couple of hundred metres, or as far as the light reaches, yes? Does that worry you, that you can’t see your destination when you leave home? Of course it doesn’t, because experience has taught you that as you drive the road will be revealed in the lights as you move forward.

Your life plans are the same. You can’t see 20 years ahead, but you can see next week, and next month. And as time passes you keep seeing next week and next month, but they keep moving on into the future as you do.

When problems happen – and they will

And sometimes as you drive there’ll be something unexpected. Roadworks. A detour. A flooded road. A flat tyre or mechanical failure. You have to work around it. Take a different route. Try a new road. Fix a problem.

Sometimes these hiccups and diversions lead to angst and frustration. You might get lost and confused. Run late. Costs more than you expected. And maybe you’ll discover something new along the way. Unexpected and exciting. Something you’d never have seen if not for the detour.

And always your headlights are showing just that bit of road immediately in front of you. Yet you still know where you’re headed in the end, even though you can’t see it and the signs may not even be pointing to it yet. You know, you’ve planned the road.

So what are you going to do about it?

You’re eventually going to be 20 years older than you are now. Are you going to allow yourself to drift directionless, going wherever the road takes you? Or are you going to plan who and what you want to be and deal with the changes and hiccups along the way to becoming that person?

About Melinda

Melinda BrennanMelinda Brennan is a business coach who woke up one day and realised that she was 20 years older and hadn’t notice the years passing. Now she’s becoming who she wants to be and loving a deliberately planned life. Hiccups, detours, roadblocks and all.

Check out what she’s doing at WAHM Biz Builder

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Overwhelmed by Work:What’s Too Much?

  • Someday Lesson: Unless you know exactly how long your to-do list is you can’t make objective decisions about what to work on.

Valentin.Ottone on Flickr.comSince December is Planning Month on Someday Syndrome let’s tackle a Someday Challenge that’s planning related. Specifically let’s look at Angela’s problem with being overwhelmed with everything she has to do.

Angela suffers from I’ll Get Around To It Someday. She knows what she wants but can’t seem to find the time or energy to follow through. She says “Someday I’ll find the time and energy to fulfill my dreams.” The thing is she’s not very specific about what those dreams are. When looking one year into the future however, she’s much more specific saying that she will have implemented some of her programs, have produced the show she wrote and be able to support her children financially.

The problem is that she’s so overwhelmed by the normal anxieties of life that she can’t see clearly. It seems to be so much stuff that she’s paralyzed by all the stuff. She moved her office in-house so that she could work on things 24/7 but that hasn’t worked which isn’t surprising. Bringing the office into the home is likely to create more anxieties not fewer. Without a clear separation of work life and home life the stress and guilt of working or not working 24/7 multiples exponentially. Every moment at work outside of regular hours takes away from family time and every moment with the family is one less moment striving for the work-related dream.

In our go-go-go world this sense of paralysis is common and it’s something many people suffer from. It happens when you allow your to-do list to get longer and longer which results in panic and paralysis.

Angela mentions anxiety at all the day to day stuff. That especially happens when you keep it all in your head – it builds and each item seems unrelated to anything else. As well, as I said working on things 24/7 is not the best way to get things done. I take plenty of time off and I’m one of the more productive people I know. I focus on relaxing when I’m not working and when I do work I don’t fritter because I know I have time to relax later.

So what does Angela need? She needs a plan. She needs to know what she’s working on when. However, she can’t create that plan until she knows exactly what she wants to work on. Yes, in her one-year-in-the-future vision she hints at what she might work on now, but the ideas are still very abstract. They’re results, not actions.

When looking into the future, it’s important to focus on actions. Outcomes are great, but they don’t motivate well because they leave a gap between the current state and the future outcome. That gap can only get filled by action.

Taking Action

And what actions does Angela need to do? What actions do you need to focus on if you want to achieve your dreams? How can you choose any one thing when there the to-do is longer than a line up to buy U2 concert tickets?

You might just pick one random item and work on that. Or you might pick the top three things that have reached crisis mode.

Or you might take a bit of time to plan out your actions, which first requires some research.

In this case, research doesn’t mean going out and looking up information or talking to others. For this type of research you are going to interview yourself. Using a blank piece of paper or a new document on the computer, write down the numbers 1 to 100 (if you’re using paper, you might need two or three sheets). Now fill in all 100 slots with everything you do during the day – both work and non-work related. Don’t forget as well those things that you want to/feel you should get done but haven’t gotten around to yet.

Why? What will Angela get out of overwhelming herself even more? How will this exercise help you?

Right now Angela feels overwhelmed by all of her to-dos. These to-dos however are only in her head. Just like in last week’s Someday Challenge, Angela needs to clear her head of the overwhelm and getting it out on paper does just that. Plus by giving yourself a goal of 100 items you’ll likely have a hard time reaching the goal and you’ll realize that you don’t actually have as many things to do as you thought, taking off some of the pressure.

By emptying your head of your to-dos you’ll also be able to look at all the items objectively. When they sit in your head they all seem equally important and necessary.

What Next?

So now you have a list of items that you do (or want to do). How do you take this list of actions and turn them into a plan that works for you, gives you time to relax, and moves you towards your dream?

You prioritize, delegate and delete items from the list. You whittle it down until it fits into a schedule that’s manageable and comfortable.

And no, it’s not easy. In fact this sort of Someday Challenge paralyzes many people.

You need help. You need the outside objectively of someone who isn’t so intimately connected to the actions, someone who can help you decide priorities and what doesn’t really need to get done after all.

You can get that help by filling out a Personalized Someday Assessment. It takes only a few minutes and just might mean the difference between being overwhelmed and being happy.

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Turning Your Goals Into Plans The Quick Method

Did you know that December is National Write a Business Plan Month? Now, I’m not a big fan of business plans (actually I find most of them useless documents that sit on the shelf and never get looked at). And many of you have no need for a business plan as your Somedays are not business related. However, I’m a big fan of small plans, of deciding on actions and then following through on implementation and in the end getting something done. To kick off this month-long look at planning, Jonathan Beebe of Develop Minds takes a look at the quick way to come up with a plan.

juhansonin on flickr.comWhen you set a “goal”, your subconscious mind tends to place it into the “someday” category, even if it’s a short-term goal you have every intention of completing. And while you may complete it as a short-term goal, the chances of failure actually go up when you label it as a “goal”… despite the fact that it’s good to have goals.

Stop for a moment and think back to the last time you went on vacation and enjoyed yourself. Beforehand, what did you do? First, you thought of what to do, and then you planned the big day. When it came up, you went out, had fun, and it felt good right?

You had an idea based on your desire, and you successfully executed it at some point in the future. Same as a goal right? The difference is, your mind is used to following through with plans, but may need much more training to follow through with “goals”, despite the fact that they are basically the same thing.

Don’t Plans Often Change?

Plans may change, but so do goals. In fact, I’d say goals change quite a bit more than plans because of the fact that they are more long-term in nature. Change isn’t always a bad thing, however. If you’re continuously growing, many things are bound to change about yourself, such as your interests, and maybe even your passions. Likewise, your goals and plans need to change in order to accommodate your changes, and that of course isn’t a bad thing.

It’s all about getting what you honestly want out of life, and as humans, what we want can change from time to time.

How to Create Your “Plan”

Let’s do a quick exercise. All you’ll need is a pen, a piece of paper, and your mind.

Take one of your big long-term goals that you hope to accomplish “someday” and that’ll be the only thing we label a “goal” for this exercise, and write it down on the top of your paper. Now, the sub-goals, or what would be called the short-term goals leading up to your big goal are going to be labeled “plans”.

Write down your new short term “plans” and decide when they should be executed, and give an estimated time-frame. Put tentative dates, and make sure to plan on executing some of them very soon, in fact, as soon as you can. If it’s honestly a goal you really want, you won’t want to wait anyway.

Below is a simplistic example plan to illustrate the exercise I just described. It’s for someone who’s always wanted to start their own online business but has previously put it into the “someday” category in their mind.

Goal: Start an Online Business

Action Plans:

  • Find a good resource and gather up the necessary knowledge.
    Date: 11/30/2009 (Today) – Complete by: 12/7/2009
  • Topic/Market Research
    Date: 12/7/2009 – Complete by: 12/14/2009
  • Create the website
    Date: 12/15/2009 – Complete by: 12/21/2009
  • Create the initial content
    Date: 12/22/2009 – Complete by: 2/22/2010
  • Create a marketing plan
    Date: 2/23/2009 – Complete by: 3/1/2010
  • And so on…
  • If you take the above example literally it will obviously have some flaws, but it wasn’t meant to help you start an online business, it’s purpose is to show you how to simply change the “goals” you need to accomplish as soon as possible into plans, so your mind actually queues the actions you need to take, rather than just letting them remain stagnant in the “someday” bin.

    Do What Works For You

    You can always modify the template to be more effective, especially if you already have a working system set up for getting things done. And if you currently had some pending goals, the “goals to plans” method I described should give you enough of a push to get started on them right away.

    Once you start accomplishing the little things that work towards your big goals, you’ll be taking steps toward the life you honestly want to be living, and remember, you can be given all the right information you need to accomplish anything you want to, and be taught everything you’ll ever need to know, but it’s all useless if you don’t put it into practice.

    Make it your plan to get started immediately.

    About Jonathan Beebe

    Jonathan Beebe is the author of Develop Minds, a personal development blog focused on providing information on how to increase your consciousness, your intelligence, and how to significantly improve your life by making the most out of it.

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Measuring Success: The Lab Rats Review Their Progress

  • Someday Lesson: Don’t just assume success or failure – measure it against where you started to be certain.

Darcy McCarty on flickr.comOver the past three and a half months we’ve watched Horatio, Lizzie, Wendee, and Alessio go through the Someday My Ship Will Come In ebook, chapter by chapter. We’ve seen their weekly progress and watched as they struggled with their Somedays.

Since we’ve come to the end of the process, I’ve asked each of the Lab Rats to take a look back at the maze I put them through and examine each twist and turn to see exactly how much change has occurred for them and how they feel about participating in the public experiment.

Here’s what each had to say about their progress.


Horatio’s big issue was work. He hated it, felt isolated and lonely and watched his fitness and wellbeing slip away because of it. In fact, it was such a big block to his dreams that less than halfway through the process he decided to solve the problem in the most radical way possible – he quit! Without a new job to go to.

Instead of creating fear and more problems, this decision actually freed Horatio to pursue his dreams. He feels intense relief at disengaging from the toxic environment, he’s caught up with social connections and feels less lonely, he gets more regular exercise and is each better and has finally broken free of the belief that he could only get drudgery-like jobs.

Of course it’s not all sunshine and puppies. He is out of work and while there are a few well paid jobs out there, Horatio is human and experiences bad days, dark moments and massive procrastination.

He credits the massive shift in thinking to the early listing of problems and what sucks. He called the experience “a mildly traumatic exercise” but the exercise made him look at what he hated about his life and he saw that as an essential step to everything that followed.


When Wendee went back to her original mind-dump of what sucked about her life, she noticed that most of what she had written was very emotional. Going through the list at the end of the process proved to be much less emotional, more rational and more action focused.

In fact, in going through her before and after list, I noticed that what’s changed most for Wendee is just that – she now realizes what choices are available to her and is taking action instead of complaining. By being more aware of the choices she has, she can derail negative thoughts and patterns before they bring her down, and can initiate an action to keep up the positive energy.

Specifically she has this to say about the process:

The best thing was writing down and being able to assess and change some of my thought patterns. I tend to be able to work through issues on paper, but committing to my written word is a little harder for me, still. Although, in working through and saying that I wouldn’t take on any extraneous volunteer positions, I actually held that thought in my mind and did bow out of elections for more volunteer positions – giving myself the permission to protect a much more simplified life.


In Lizzie’s case, she dealt with some of the mundane things that were really bringing her down. Things like getting the puppy train, dredging the pond and widening the driveway, finding work again, and finishing her taxes are now done and off her worry list.

Lizzie’s learned to put the energy into getting things done instead of being wide eyed and panic stricken at 3am. By shifting the focus of energy, she’s gone from worry to action, from internal to external and the payoffs have been huge.

And although she didn’t achieve one of her big goals (weigh loss), she has let herself relax and is now more comfortable in her own skin and in her (slightly messier) house.

When she started the process, Lizzie felt she knew exactly what she needed to do and was hoping a stern taskmaster (which I’m so not!). But in the end she learned to examine her priorities and to let go of perfection (her stepdaughter’s name for her is “Monica Geller Bing”).

I need to quit working on being perfect and start working on being happy.


Alessio’s journey was about the most straightforward of the Lab Rats. He took the path with the fewest detours, but created slow and steady progress along the way. He started out not knowing what he wanted or where he was going and ended with creating a compelling future and a direction to work towards. The whole process taught him self-awareness, which has helped not only in this instance but will help him greatly in the future as well.

He also said that the worksheets in the order I presented them allowed him to narrow down what it was that he wanted, clearing the whole picture up, and making his future exciting yet realistic at the same time. Working through the workbook made it seem much easier than he had expected it to be.

Thank you so much for helping me through ‘the maze’, I’ve learned a lot and am very grateful for your help and for giving me the tools that I needed to help me find and realize my dreams.

Why the Public Participation?

All four Lab Rats found doing the ebook publicly meant being more accountable. As Horatio said:

It’s all very easy to pick up a self-improvement book, and read it, maybe doing the exercises in your head and perhaps thinking of the principles vaguely for a week or two. Being obliged to actually carry it out and write things down turns it from a casual exercise into actual work.

Wendee and Lizzie at first worried about what others would say in response but quickly learned that the Someday Syndrome community isn’t interested in judging and that the whole process was totally non-threatening.

Your Someday Journey

Next week I’ll introduce you to the next batch of Lab Rats who will be going through the next ebook in the Someday Syndrome Cure Series: I’ll Get Around To It Someday (launching soon!).

In the meantime, I encourage you to consider making a public commitment of some sort and make yourself accountable for busting your Somedays.

(And if you check back in here tomorrow, you’ll find an offer that will do just that for you!)

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What Will You Do to Achieve Your Dreams? The Lab Rats Take Action

  • Someday Lesson: Dreams mean nothing if actions don’t accompany them.

Kevin Luffs on flickr.comA few weeks ago before looking at their supports and their naysayers, I asked the Lab Rats to come up with a plan. In case you don’t remember, here’s a quick summary:

  • Wendee’s plan focuses on getting her MFA and increasing her creativity outlets (through teaching workshops and doing more art).
  • Alessio wants to save enough money to fund his new career and in the meantime he will start putting himself out in the field to gain experience.
  • All of Lizzie’s plans include some sort of communication, whether improving communication with her partner, opening herself up to new friendships, or making herself accountable somehow for weight loss and clearing out the clutter in her life.
  • And Horatio is concentrating on the job search (not surprising given his lack of job at the moment).

When I posted the summaries of these plans last time I asked you what you thought each person would choose as their actions. Would Wendee focus on the MFA, Alessio starting to design websites, Lizzie making a commitment to herself, and Horatio pursuing the job? (Those would have been my choices – what did you choose?).

And in three out of the four cases my guess was right. Only in the case of Wendee’s plan was I wrong, but then in looking back at Wendee’s last two weeks, with our focus on her need to find work to support her enough that she has some breathing room, it’s not surprising she chose to create a calm creative space in her life from which to make her life-changing decisions.

Here’s what they each had to say. Note how everyone has a slightly different format and way of interpreting their top five actions (which is what I asked from them). Wendee went two steps farther and came up with seven actions. Alessio has very measurable actions that are slightly broad in scope. Lizzie took her five actions, interpreted them as her five goals, and then broke them into little bits that she committed to get through quickly. And finally all of Horatio’s actions focus 100% on the job search with very specific repetitive actions.


  • Walk or run in the morning, almost every day
  • Be creative (draw, paint, collage, write) almost every day
  • Create clear space to think and work: spend 15 minutes at a time sorting through, getting rid of or preparing to sell stuff.
  • Get into the habit of spending more time outside: stop by a local botanical garden or museums to sit and sketch, or go for a morning walk.
  • Update my resume for different scenarios (engineering, design, teaching, office)
  • Contact old friends, colleagues to let them know I’m looking for work.
  • Schedule lunch with one of my painting gal pals.


  1. Learn as much as I can from the Internet about web design. The internet is a free resource and there’s so much out there that’s free.
  2. Further my web design studies. This is a bit more formal and will include some sort of certification.
  3. Start making websites. For friends, charities, etc. This will help me compile a portfolio of my work.
  4. Learn more about graphic design. I’d studied graphic design before, but have found that the interest and passion for it has re-surfaced while doing web design.
  5. Do something design-related or creative at least once a week to keep the creative juices flowing.


  1. (Toward goal of finding a new house)
    • Email the friend who told me that there is a particular person in town who knows when all of the great houses are about to be listed, so you can make a deal BEFORE they hit they the market. (I have a friend who has bought two houses that way.)
    • Email the agent person once I have his/her contact info
    • Set up an appointment with the guy who has plans for prettying up our pond–the major minus is eventually selling our current house
  2. (Toward going back to work in the city)
    • Post on Facebook about my general excitement
    • Pick the day next week to go in
    • Book a train ticket
  3. (Toward working at the local college)
    • Email my old student who is currently a big wheel in their grad school
    • Email my acquaintance who is currently working there
    • Make plans to stop by with new friend who is student in the department
  4. (Toward improving Italian)
    • Twenty minutes a day six days a week on Rosetta Stone. If I DON’T meet my daily quota, no coffee the next day until I’ve made it up.
  5. (Toward looking better)
    • Hit the gym four times
    • Hook up my Wii (and WiiFit)
    • See if I have one week’s worth of everyday outfits which could charitably be described as cute.


  1. Every Wednesday – and only every Wednesday – do a broad sweep of the job ads and opportunities. Decide on the spot whether they are any good or not. Save those that are.
  2. Push one job application out every week. Make it part of the Wednesday ritual. Obviously, this supposes that there is something worth applying for, and isn’t an invitation to apply to just anything. But see if I can find one thing each week and ship an application in for it.
  3. Have one project / potential publication on the go at any time. Start writing the end product (the actual journal paper) at the start. This will clarify the aims of the project (what are we going to write about) and get over the hump of starting the writing-up.
  4. Book my passport interview within the next week. It can take months for these things to work out, so may as well start it now. Having a Euro passport opens a lot of opportunities.
  5. Seize one brazen opportunity for self-publicity every week. It can be posting an announcement of some paper or work to a mailing list, it can be a querying email to a potential employer or collaborator, or it can be attending a conference. Just do it.


I totally applaud all the Lab Rats for their commit to their plans with actions, but sometimes that’s not enough. As Lizzie noted in her plan, she needs to somehow make herself accountable.

And for that reason, here at Someday Syndrome, we have the Accountability Clinic. It doesn’t matter how much you talk about your desires, unless you act all your talking means nothing.

And so saying that, even though this group of Lab Rats leaves the maze next week, I’m going to interrupt the beginning of the next series to get an update from our four volunteers to find out just how they’re doing.

In the meantime, next week there’s one more Measuring Progress report, where the Lab Rats will compare where they started to where they are now.

I can’t wait to see their answers!

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Turning Dreams Into Reality: The Lab Rats Create a Plan

  • Someday Lesson: Knowing your dream isn’t enough – you need to plan and act if you want to bust your Somedays.

IcE MaN Photography on Flickr.comOnce you know what you want you can’t stop there – you have to start working towards it. Talking and planning isn’t enough. You have to act. (If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know that’s pretty much my mantra: only action produces results.)

Before acting, however, it’s important to know where you’re going without overwhelming yourself with details and too much work.

The last time I ran a bunch of Lab Rats through a maze, I had them come up with a one page plan of things they would do to achieve their goals. It was a highly specific set of actions and included due dates, fears, strengths, supports, measurement and acceptable minimum levels of completion. By keeping their plan to a single page they had to carefully choose their actions for maximum results.

This time through the new set of Lab Rats ran a slightly different maze with less specific directions. It didn’t matter how they got through the maze. They only had to reach the end which was: deciding the big steps to achieving their goals.

As expected, each Lab Rat took a different path to find their way out of the maze, however, they all started with their dream and chose what they would do based on that. Some plans, like that of Horatio, can be quite specific because he’s already taken the big step (quitting his job) and is now into the nitty gritty. Other plans, like Alessio’s, come out looking like a story describing the process between now and reaching the goal.

Really, I don’t care what the plan looks like. I don’t even really care about the plan at all because as the Lab Rats move forward, the consequences of their actions will change the plan. A plan to me is only a guideline, like the outline an author uses when writing the first draft of a novel. The final product often looks nothing like the outline, but the outline was necessary to keep the author from heading off in twenty directions at once.

So, let’s take a look at the Lab Rats’ plans and next week we’ll get to the crux of getting rid of Somedays – taking action.


  • Know for sure that I need a Master’s degree to teach wherever I want to go
  • Put together my application portfolio, create a proposal for a thesis
  • Apply to grad school
  • Do research, write a great Master’s thesis having something to do with creativity and how people learn to be creative.
  • Present thesis work publicly, somewhere.
  • Shows with local artist guilds.
  • Teach creativity workshops.
  • Get an MFA!
  • Paint and draw, a lot
  • My partner and I travel different areas to test them out: how well can we adjust to living there? What are my prospects for work? Artist-in-residence for State or U.S. National parks? Maybe we just keep moving?


To get “the next job”, it might be necessary to pump up my resume and profile – this most recent position has been a bit toxic in terms of career path and recognition! I can do this by making my name more visible in professional circles, publicizing some of the work that I have done (ditto) and finishing off a few odds and ends and getting them out there in the public eye.

Sort out another passport and dual nationality. I’m eligible and it would expand my job options considerably. I’ve just never got around to it before.

I may not be able to step straight into the “dream job” but the next step is to get a job that is actually going somewhere. This doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does have to be leading towards the dream job. It will need to be a position where I am treated as a professional, I manage people and projects and I am the person that is calling the shots rather than just a just a warm body hired to fill a slot. I have to be the guy that knows why and not just how.

Then I work at that job and be seen working at that job. Arguably one of my big problems has been a lack of self-publicity. So next time, everyone is going to see what I do and that I’m good at it.

Dream job!


The big steps to my dream are saving enough money for web design books and study material and use the relevant resources on the internet to improve my current web design skills and add much more to them. During this time I have my blog set up and am slowly but surely increasing the number of my subscribers. I make some free or well-priced websites to get some practical experience and build my portfolio, which is displayed on my blog, and gives me international exposure. My work gets noticed and I start getting some freelance web design jobs, and my blog is generating some money. Eventually, I make enough money to quit my regular job, and get to focus my time and creativity on blogging and freelance web design. After some years of web design and blogging experience, I start a web design course which turns out to be a great success.


Let the world know what I want. At a party recently I congratulated a friend on the new house they are buying and told her that I would have looked at it, too, if it had been on the market. (They bought it before it was listed.) She said “you mean you guys would sell your house?” and I filled her in on my openness to moving. So now it’s out there…if she hears of something I might like…if she gets the word out that we might sell.

Help other people hold me accountable. I have some local friends who speak better Italian than I do–I need to make use of them. Struggle through fifteen minutes of conversation. Do my work–the fun Rosetta Stone things and such–every day. But create a sink or swim situation. Set a date (maybe January 1) and pretend that I’m going to Italy to work and I need to be in pretty damn good shape by then. Put in a couple of hours a day…I can do it at the gym. While I do housework. In the Nike spirit–just do it!

One of my dream elements is looking fabulous. Big Step #1 is get over feeling like I need to wait (until I lose weight–big yawn!) for this to happen. I need to hit the local makeup shop for a makeover. Kick my daily wardrobe up a notch or two. After all…there are fabulous looking women in all sizes. I think I need to commit to eating well and hide the scales. And I need a punishment and reward system for going to the gym.

Figure out which of the small things (horses, garden and all of the rest) are important and which are just static. Then–here’s my hard part–without letting them take over, start incorporating them into my life.

Open myself without fear to friendship. The biggest thing I’ve learned as a Lab Rat is that I don’t regret time spent cultivating friends. So staying open to it sometimes consumes too much of my free time. This weekend turned into a day at the county fair and three parties, which is why I’m finishing this at 1 am…but it was an intellectually satisfying, soul satisfying weekend. I love my partner, love my daughter. But I’m a deeply social creature, and having a community of friends is the glue which holds my dream together.

Now that you’ve seen what each of the Lab Rats has planned, I’m going to leave you to guess what you think their first step will be. Next week we’ll see whether the Lab Rats chose the same action.

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