Day 6: Outline to Make it Real

Undoing the Elephant Mindset is a 10 day challenge designed to help you identify the false boundaries you’ve created in your own life, recognize the deeper reasons you stop yourself from stepping outside those boundaries, and then break free from the ties that hold you back from living a life you are passionate about. What you’ll need: a notebook or blog or computer, a desire to reach for more in your life, and an open mind.

It's an elephant outline... get it??

Maybe you haven’t outlined something since high school or college. Or maybe you thrive on outlines to plan events, schedules, projects, etc. Either way, we’re going to use an outline in today’s challenge to make your goal real.

Outlines are simple. But just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they’re always easy to make or adhere to. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Your outline should have a title and you should be very specific about what your goal is and what your timeline is. For example, Steps to Starting my Photography Business by April 2012. The more specific you are with your goal, the easier the outline will be.
  • Your outline will be a living, breathing creature. Once you create it and begin following it towards your goal, things might change. You may realize that you can accomplish some things much faster than you originally expected, so you may tweak the timeline. Or maybe as you take steps towards your goal, you realize that what you want has changed. Maybe it started as goal to open a photography business and along the way you realize you want to open your own art gallery. Keep in mind that your outline will probably change as you move forward; life hardly every works out the way we plan, anyway.

So how do you start an outline? I think it’s a good idea to start with a date in mind. If you’re planning to quit your job to freelance full time or you want to backpack around Europe for a month, you need to know when you plan to do it. Otherwise, it will remain in space and you’ll put it off forever.

Choose a date by which you would like to accomplish either your main goal or the largest steps towards your goal. Make it realistic; you don’t want to pressure yourself by choosing a date too near, but you also don’t want to give yourself room to slack off by placing the date too far off.

Then begin outlining the steps you would been to take in order to make the goal happen. What’s the first thing you would have to do? Start there. If you would first need to buy a camera, put that on your list. Or maybe you need to take a class, read some how-to books, buy hiking boots, look into airfare, make a phone call. Whatever it is, start there. This is #1 on your list. Below this step, jot down ways you can accomplish it (saving money, sucking it up and just doing it, asking for help, etc).

Then think about what the next step is. Write it down and list the things you’d need to do to accomplish that step. Do this until you reach your end-goal.

Your outline might be five pages long. Or maybe it’s half a page. Doesn’t matter, as long as it works for you.

How can you tell if it works? Read it and imagine yourself completing each step. Can you see yourself doing each one? If not, tweak it until it seems doable. You can also tell it works if it’s specific. Above all else, be specific. Do not be vague. Vague doesn’t help a goal become reality. Vague keeps a goal in the dream-state, and we’re not about that here. Be honest with yourself and come up with concrete steps you can actually take to reach your goal. Cut out the fluff that just serves as a safety net or a way to keep you from doing. You’re taking real action here.

If you feel up to sharing, please leave a comment below. You can either write your entire day 1 challenge in the comments, or just give us an overview of your goal and some of the main points you wrote about. See you tomorrow for more Undoing the Elephant Mindset!


One thought on “Day 6: Outline to Make it Real”

  1. I am going to jot things down on my outline while I’m working on stuff for clients today. I am OCD about my schedule, jotting down things to do everyday, but lately I have been slow on getting things done, and end up rolling things over for days and days. Maybe an outline will change my perspective, or at least help me outline some time parameters to help me get things done faster.


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