How to make a plan (a Dreamer’s edition)

Photo by Ike louie Natividad on

If you are a dreamer, you might easily get stuck in your head.

Your brilliant ideas never get to become reality.

You start to work on building your dream, but always get distracted by some new idea, or stop working on it because it gets dull.

As a dreamer, you need another way to make plans.

You will have to plan according to your sparks and flaws. If you do what others do, with the tight schedules and willpower draining, you will keep beating yourself up with frequent quitting or simply forgetting about what you wanted to do in the first place.

Here is what I did (and am doing). Hope it’s helpful to you too.

First, we need to distinguish what’s the difference between our superpower (dreaming great ideas) and what it needs to make anything into reality (a plan).

A dream vs. a plan

A dream can be idealistic — a castle in the clouds; whereas a plan is structured, specific, and actionable.

A dream is self-entertaining. You need dreams to release endorphins into your brain to feel hope and joy. I used to dream of living somewhere on the beach, working from anywhere on my laptop, drinking pina colada in the morning, or whenever I want.

I had that dream when I was mentally drained by my 9 to 5, repetitive, dead-end office job. How I was living induced pain. Dreaming rewards you with joy now. Therefore, dreaming was my painkiller at hand. I needed it to survive the everyday pain that came like waves in the sea. But the worst was when the painkiller wore off, the next pain waves became even less bearable. What came next was self-loathing because I felt helpless. Because I didn’t take action to achieve that dream.

Because I didn’t make a plan. A dream can inspire a great plan.

A dreamer’s plan

A plan is a self-discipline. You want to keep yourself on track with every step according to plan, even if it’s painful, dull, and difficult.

To make this dream a reality is going to need a series of well-structured, thorough plans.

To make a plan, I need a goal, a roadmap, and a timeline.

For example, if I want to be able to work from anywhere and at any time, I need to be my own boss. Before starting my business, I can be a freelancer. What does every freelancer need nowadays? A website with a portfolio showcasing what I can do. There I have it. That’s what I want to build. That’s the goal of my first plan.

And how to come to that goal is the roadmap.

A website can be built. It’s the content of that website I need the most.

A website with an empty portfolio is nothing but a bad personal ad. So the most urgent plan is to put together a portfolio.

Don’t forget, I want my roadmap to be specific. So I need to state that I want 5 presentable projects for my portfolio.

Now it’s time to make the timeline.

When do I want to have a finished website so that I can start promoting it on social media and freelancing websites? In 12 weeks.

I know I can make the website quite quickly. So I will get on creating projects first.

For every project, I need 2 weeks, 7 buffer days (for review and adjustment), and another week for the website.

If I need to make specific timelines for every project, I will do it here as well.

After this comes to the most difficult step: execution.

How a dreamer conquers “execution” roadblock

A plan without execution is just another dream. 

Execution is the biggest block for 99 percent of people with great ideas and big dreams.

To be realistic, a plan is to be broken. One helpful tip here is to make your plan specific, but achievable and most importantly, relatively flexible

That’s why I always plan in buffer time.

What’s subjected to change usually doesn’t include the end goal and roadmap. The timeline can be adjusted, as well as the order of certain elements in the roadmap. For example, I can choose to move building a website earlier on the timeline; but I won’t change building a website into building a Youtube channel. 

Making a plan and sticking to it rewards you later.

Sometimes much later, especially when your end goal of the plan involves seeing some kind of “quality leap”, such as from “having zero followers on social media” to “becoming a 10k-follower influencer”.

Another thing that helps is to keep an activity log or progress log

Sounds pretty dull? Well, here is the catch:

Make it public. 

Not necessarily to the people you know, if you don’t feel like sharing your ambition with them.

Make it public to strangers on platforms such as Medium, Youtube, or Twitter. (If nobody knows you have these accounts, of course)

Even if you don’t have an audience there (you might get more and more eyes on your posts with time), publishing something to the internet and making them visible to strangers can give you satisfaction after accomplishing your smallest goals, and keeping yourself on track. 

Or, you can do it like me. Set up a separate blog and write about them every time you did anything towards that goal.

Some more tips:

Making plans gives you a high of endorphins, too. That’s why most of us stop at the point when we finished planning. But be aware. Don’t stop before you can finally start.

If you get stuck during execution, use your buffer time to spot the problem and keep on schedule. But if you fall off the schedule (which might happen) remember to come back as soon as you can. All you need to do is to either speed up from now on. Or the “worst” case: you need to push the whole timeline a bit further into the future. Anything but give up. Always come back to doing the work and back on schedule. Like meditation. 

Be sure about your end goal and roadmap before you even start. It’s very frustrating and discouraging if you keep working on something hard while it’s the wrong thing to work on. Save your most energy on the work that deserves to be done.

I am a dreamer. I have ideas. And I bet you do too.

But a dreamer goes nowhere if she doesn’t make the right move, and keep moving.


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