In December's #GoalWorkshop, I set a personal SMART goal of making $75,000 by the end of March.
During my SMART analysis, I asked myself aloud, "Is this Achievable?" to which I replied, "I think so." While I'm counting my salary in this number (for reasons having to due with aligning personal and professional motivations), my salary alone won't come close. For others, the purpose of the 3-month limit was to practice goal setting at a smaller scale. But for me, the 3-month aspect is an exercise in fitting constraints. I want to explore the shift in thinking it takes to do something large in a very small amount of time.
Still, I've decided to keep the number. A large goal necessarily forces me to step outside my normal means of drawing additional income. Typically, if I need an extra $2,000 or $5,000, I'll simply pick up short-term (1-3 week) freelance software project. While I could attempt to do that here, the number of jobs I'd have to do would start to distract with my work at Big Red*, which is still a hugely important and exciting part of my life. I want my goals and their implementation plans to align, not compete. So, I'm staying away from freelance work, and software development in general.
I'm also staying away from physical products, which is what I tried in my previous (failed) experiment, Project Kingpin. The lead times, upfront expenses, and ongoing overheads are too great. It also doesn't naturally and immediately align with my strengths and passions, which revolve around building trust and inspiring people through storytelling. I think it could, but again, getting to the point where those things touch requires a lot of upfront investment first, and I don't have the time.
But that leaves... what?
I don't know. I do know that I don't want to start building something until I know it will be effective. However, the process of crafting a product idea based on perceived market need and then validating that product based on actual data (before actually building it) is something I'm wholly unfamiliar with. It's way outside my wheelhouse.
And the clock is ticking.
So I decided to follow my own advice, and find a "mentor" who can help me in this area. "Mentor" in quotes because this is a paid consulting/coaching relationship. He's been successful in doing the above things for himself, and for others in a similar consulting capacity. By paying for his expertise, I'm lowering my execution risk.
It's possible I could have found someone in my network who would have offered to help for free, but given my time constraints, I don't want to simply bet on someone's good nature. I don't want to have to constantly ensure that our mutual interests are aligned long enough to get specific, actionable, thoughtful advice. Eventually? Yes - I think that kind of relationship is worth finding and fostering. But right now? Right now I just need to get started.
Meanwhile, I'm continuing to work on building the habits I know will be necessary, regardless of the specific direction of this product.
I know I'll need to learn how to better connect with people, especially strangers.
I know I'll need to know how to communicate clearly.
I know I'll need to know how to set and stick to deadlines.
I know I'll need to know how to write more, faster.
I know I'll need to know how to manage people and projects.
These are all supporting skills which are broadly applicable to any job, but are especially applicable to production and marketing.
* I've decided to stop referring to my employer by its proper name here. While they're very open to people maintaining a public persona, the number of disclaimers I have to give when mentioning their name in order to stay inside their social media guidelines is annoying.