What’s one dream you’ve had all your life that you’ve never given yourself permission to take seriously?
For me, it has undoubtedly been to own a boutique. Not just any boutique, but one that encapsulates all of my loves: wellness, holistic beauty, ethical fashion, design, and art. A concept store. Trust me, if this sounds all over the map just know that in Paris, New York, and Seattle they’re nailing it.
If you’re an entrepreneur, writer, artist, designer or creator of any kind then you most likely have a huge vision for your work. At the very least you have that one idea that, for years, has never made it out of the journal. Whether the idea seems too big or whether you simply can’t get life to work with you – the idea remains an idea – not a reality. For any creative, this is the kiss of death. Idea, and no execution.
What is the world missing out on because of fear, indifference, or just plain old small thinking?
About a year ago, I took a chance on an opportunity way outside my comfort zone. I opened a pop-up shop in the back of a punk rock record store. I gathered up my hoards of vintage clothing, accessories, and jewelry and endeavored to make a long-held dream of mine come to life.
To make it happen I had to do things I don’t usually do.
Stop trying to make it make sense and kick the bird out of the nest.
For years I struggled to make sense of the contrast between the art world and the wellness community. I wanted to do both but it “had to make sense”.
But because of my need to have it all figured out, I would get stuck and not move forward. In other words, perfectionism and procrastination usually got the better of me.
I would see my idea and consider only the grand vision and final iteration.
This is a mistake.
Any entrepreneur or creative will tell you that a final iteration is an illusion. You create and re-create. Build and build better. It’s a never-ending process.
There’s this guy in Knoxville where I live who is the master of making ideas come to life and I’ve always been fascinated by his ability to create without holding back. At one point he was a pastor of a growing inner-city church, an independent coffee shop owner, a father, a web developer, a husband, an app developer, and probably something else too. Then one day on top of all that he and his wife were already doing, they announced they were opening a bespoke doughnut shop. I bumped into him briefly and asked what his secret to success was. All he said to me was that he looked at each dream as a project.
No more, no less.
This struck me as unconventional. This is not how I approach my ideas. I am more careful and calculated. I get stuck in needing everything to be “just so”. I hoard my work and sit on it like a mother goose waiting for it to hatch. But in reality, the idea already has wings. All I have to do is learn to kick it out of the nest. And I did.
So can you.
Be brave enough to let the “perfect” picture of your idea go and get to work.
Take an honest inventory of your strengths. You’ve got chops you’re overlooking.
If you’ve ever applied for a new job you’ve most likely had to write a resume. Maybe before writing out your skills and accomplishments you doubted your ability to do the work.
But then as you wrote, your chest puffed out a little more and your back straightened up because all the sudden you realized , “Hey, I’m pretty awesome. I actually have done some wonderful things.”
This is what happens when you take an inventory of your talents, strengths, and weaknesses.
I’d get these moments where total strangers would ask me if I was a writer (and this is before I even began calling myself a writer). A friend would consult with me on organic skin care, another person would say they’ve always admired my style, and another would ask my advice on their relationship or their health. And then one day I had an inquiry about styling. I was asked about my styling credentials and had to write down all the reasons why I should be taken seriously.
I had to admit that I do indeed have chops.
If it’s within your nature to ignore your talents and focus only on your shortcomings, stop it. Fess up. Say it out loud. Write it down. Use your chops to get or create what you want…what you’ve been dreaming of.
Own up to your dream and use your stockpile.
The idea was that this could be a place where someone would be able to find that glorious pair of vintage jeans. But it could also be where one could peruse art books, wellness books, body care, and supplements.
A Space where someone could come to feel inspired and motivated to not only be a good steward of their life but also their body in all ways (mind and soul). I envisioned a place where someone could come to feel understood, heard, and walk away with a totally uplifting experience (plus a cute pair of clogs). < This is me owning up to my dream. Now you go.
For you, the key thing is to keep sketching out your ideas, keep visualizing them in your mind or in a journal, or with a friend. When the opportunity comes, rely on what you already have within your stock pile to get it done. Chances are you already have everything you need to create what you want. But you have to see it that way. If you don’t, then you won’t.
Maybe you already have 50,000 words written on your blog. That’s a book. Maybe your design skills are already good enough for you to launch a collection on Etsy? Do it. Maybe you’re already a fashion designer. You just need to start calling yourself one.
For me it was already having an inventory of clothing because I’m a hoarder.
What do you already have that you’re willfully overlooking? Whatever it is, use it. It’s going to be incredibly hard work. It was not easy for my mom and I to transform that space from a pea-green nightmare into a refined and elegant boutique within an existing store. But I really wanted to show up and be true to myself.
Show up for yourself; use what you already have and know.
Be constantly aware of the hidden opportunities lying in wait all around you.
What I would say to you is that your ideas might hang out in your mind for years. But do not give up on them.
I’ve been dreaming of owning a store since I was at least 15 years old. This vision is something I was so obsessed with that I couldn’t shake for 16 years. So if you have something like that kicking around your head, if you have this idea that can’t get unstuck from your heart, then you have to do it. And then you have to keep doing it.
You may need time, money, or help to make your dream a reality but don’t focus on that. Focus on the idea and be open to moving forward with the minimum viable product.
You also have to give yourself permission to be who you are and move forward with your idea. My friend Jeff writes about this a lot. It isn’t a matter of waiting for someone to invite you into this project. Invite yourself to the party. You have to have your project with you at all times like it’s on file; like you’re ready to run with it at any given moment.
Then when the gap opens up, as it did for me, you step forward and present your idea. I was inquiring and building relationships for years before the opening at the record store ever presented itself.
You make it happen.
Yes, sometimes this requires waiting and other times it requires carving out your own opening Shaw Shank style. You’ll know which is right for you. Honestly, maybe it’s even a combination of both waiting and acting.
The bottom line
You’ve got to own up to your dream, then own up to your qualifications, talents, and tastes.
Continue to dream and conceptualize while keeping your eyes peeled for the opportunities on the horizon and when they present themselves – if you’re comfortable with the calculated costs, take the risk.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Think of your dreams, each one of them, as projects and experiments. Try to avoid thinking of your ideas as “make or break”. But of course, do the very best that you can during the phase of execution. And know when to fold. Not all projects are the final iteration of what you want to do. I consider this pop-up shop in the back of a punk rock record store an amazing rough draft. I killed it. I owned it. So from my rough draft, I shall take all the pros and cons and learn from it.
Follow the steps I’ve given you and go make it happen.