We’ve been learning about the hows and whys of the Ideal Life exercise and by now you’ve identified some of your little and big goals in life.
So how do you go from dreaming to doing?
Before we dive into coming up with a plan of action, before you take your first action step towards what you want, there is one more crucial first step. Take the time to do more research on the activities you think you are most interested in. Conduct information interviews. Ask, ask, ask.
Now you might think information interviews are only for the career world, but think again. They are useful for anything you want to do in life. Talk to people who have done what you want to do. (This can include reading how-to books by people who have done what you want to do, but don’t completely neglect the one-on-one interviews.)
The idea is that, rather than judging a job or any activity as appropriate for you just based on what you imagine, talk to people doing that activity to see if your perceptions match reality.
Gather information, see how your skills fit in, make contacts, and determine your energy and enthusiasm for that endeavor—before you dive in.
Ask questions as to what skills you need, top resources to be aware of, what a typical day is like, the pros/cons of taking on this activity, other people to contact.
And one great wrap-up question: “What do you wish you had done differently early on?”
Why would someone grant you an information interview? People love to talk about what they do. Most people will say yes. My theory is, if they live near you, treat them to coffee or lunch, or meet for a walk.
This powerful tool helps with life decisions. For example, if you are thinking about homeschooling your children, or taking on a volunteer position, or creating a new program in your community to fill a need you see and care about, use the information interview format first.
Talk to others who are doing the same thing you want to do. Then make the decision with facts instead of an imaginary image of what you think it might be like.
I had a dream of starting an Author Series when we settled down. So I searched online and found a program that had been in place for a number of years in another town. I called the founder of that program. She spent hours on the telephone with me, telling me what had worked and what didn’t. She gave me sample forms she used. She gave me a list of great authors to contact, along with mentioning one or two who had been a bit “high maintenance.”
Why did she do all that? She loves what she is doing and likes sharing with like-minded people.
I was able to start the program in my town in a much quicker, smoother way, because I’d done the information interview. Two years later, another woman contacted me because she wanted to start a similar program where she lives.
I happily gave her all of my information, my program plan, the forms we use, and authors to contact, glad to help someone else with her dream.
Information interviews are all about the old “you don’t have to reinvent the wheel” philosophy. You’ll learn shortcuts, find out about resources, and discover people to connect with to help you move forward way more quickly towards your dream.
Information interviews can do other things.
- Sometimes by doing an information interview about a crucial military family program you want to create, you may discover the program already exists. You can partner rather than start from scratch…or spend time on some other life priority rather than recreating something that’s already in place.
- Sometimes the interviews will end up showing you that your dream isn’t really the reality you have in mind. Some dreams are fantasies, built up by our ideas of what life will be like: “when I publish a book I’ll make lots of money,” “when I open my B&B, I’ll get to sit and chat with people from all over the world, glass of sherry in hand,” “when I work from home I’ll have all this extra time for my family,” “when I homeschool, …”. You might discover from the interviews that this particular dream can be put aside.
- Often the interviews will pump up your excitement about your dream. You’ll meet like-minded excited about what they are doing, people who might well become important parts of your network as you move forward. We all have ideals of what accomplishing our goals mean. Information interviews can add a bit of a reality check before you dive in. And if you decide to move forward, you’ll move towards your dreams in a much more efficient way.