"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
-Theodore Roosevelt


"If I could get paid for just generating ideas, I wouldn't need my day job," I joked recently with a friend.

Sometimes my thoughts feel like a Jackson Pollock painting—splatters of color and creativity flung this way and that in random patterns across the canvas that is my mind.

Generating ideas and new, creative projects is not a problem for me. Every day seems to bring some sort of "What if I tried ______?" or "Wouldn't _____ be cool?" aha moment. But taking those exciting "Aha's! from intangible concept to I-can-see-and-touch-it reality can be a struggle.

It's not because I'm incapable of taking the ideas from point A to point B. While I may not know all the answers up front, I do know how to ask questions to find the answers. I do know how to reach out to others who may have the answers. I do know how to take inventory of what I already know to happily discover that I do have some answers. And guess what? You have the ability to do all this to. You know how to ask questions. You know people. You even know more than you think you know.

The quote at the beginning of this post is one of my favorites because it reminds me we are never without resources. We are never truly stuck.

Let's try the quote on for size, shall we?

First, clarify the goal. Keep in mind it doesn't have to be specific or polished. Just name your heart's desire in its current form. Then turn each part of the quote into a question to define the steps you can take to reach your goal.

If I use myself as an example, it might look something like this:

What's my goal?
To support my family through my writing.

What can I do?
-Make my writing a priority by making for it by setting limits on other activities.
-Submit one story idea a week to various publications.
-Enter one writing contest a month.
What do I have?
-The Writer's Market book—a plethora of publishers, publications and contests to which I can send my writing.
-Control over my schedule.
-Connections—reach out to them and return the favor when they need help.

Where am I at?
-In a day job that pays well so I can save for my future and fund future training and learning opportunities.
-In a position to use my current clips to fuel bigger projects.
-Writing regularly for four publications with which I have an established rapport.

Breaking those great big, crazily creative ideas down into more manageable bite-sized pieces makes them look exciting and doable, not scary and impossible.

It redirects my focus.

It calms my anxiety.

It boosts my confidence.

It brings me one step closer.

Your One Step:

Want to give it a try?

Write down the following quote in your journal or on a blank index card:

"Do what you can, with what you have, with where you are."

Below it write your goal. This can be a long term goal, a monthly goal, a weekly goal or even a daily goal. The size of the goal isn't what matters, but the progress made toward it.

Below your goal, write the three clarifying questions:

What can I do?

What do I have?

Where am I at?

For each question, shoot for at least one step, but be careful not to overwhelm yourself. Creative beings tend to have this habit of getting so excited about a goal or a dream that we try to accomplish more than we reasonably can without experiencing burn out. I'd suggest limiting yourself to three steps per question.

Write down those steps.

Refer to them often.

Cross them off your list as achieve them.

Celebrate them.

Move forward.

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