T
his might be the first day on your independent journey of self-employment. Or maybe you’re figuring out how to schedule your side hustle around your day job. Well, you’re here, so the term multi-disciplinary must trigger some fireworks in your brain. And that my friend, is most excellent.

At first, maybe. But if you have ever stared into a white canvas with a paintbrush, you know the absolute terror of starting. And if you have a palette of colors the size of a desk, things are about to go off the rails. But only if you let yourself spiral out of control — and I’m not going to let that happen.

So let’s talk through that experience and how to reign it in right from the start. Or from the middle. Or even the planning stages.

3. Separate Passions from Niches

Whether you’re in the planning stages or deep in the weeds, you must separate your passions from your targeted niches.

Make a list on paper, Google Doc, or whatever you prefer. Make three categories with bullet points ready to go underneath. You have your Passions, your Niches, and the Unicorns.

  • Passions are the things you absolutely love doing in your free time. Don’t hold back, make the list without regard to the others. These are things that bring you unbridled joy. Likely things listed when people ask, “What would you do if you didn’t need to work for the rest of your life?”
  • Niches are skills or services that you know can be profitable. These are the things you are objectively good at or would willingly learn. It’s not to say that you can’t enjoy them, but their extrinsic value is the top priority.
  • Unicorns are the unimaginable crossover items. This list is where you write anything that appeared on both lists above. While this seems like a dream, it’s also dangerous territory; high-risk, high-reward if you will. Honing skills or hobbies that you love and people value creates excellent opportunities. Yet, your management of which becomes your business will make all the difference.

Once you have that list to work from, it’s far easier to launch or realign your business plan.

My advice would be to choose two or three ideas from the Niche list and keep one from the Unicorn list in reserve. It’s far easier to scale in either direction when you’re not affecting something that brings you fulfillment.

2. Assign Value and Schedule Time

One of my favorite movies of all time, Cast Away, has an excellent little quote in the beginning from Tom Hanks. While it’s more commentary on his character’s personality, the point he’s making always rings true for me.

Time is indifferent to our plans. Sure its measurement is a construct of humankind but all the same, this is our reality. We have to recognize the finite amount of time we have each day. As such, the value of our time is something that can’t be understated.

While planning, pitching or working, one thing is certain — you must adhere to a schedule. The freedom you enjoy allows for the risk of over-work or improper prioritization.

Maybe you’re working from the above list of Niches and Unicorns. The products or services that encompass your self-sustaining empire are in place. Regardless, you must assign value to the time spent on each. As well as scheduling how much time you give to each daily.

Use a project organization app like Airtable, and get everything in order. Assign hours for each service set project parameters, and hold yourself accountable.

Don’t suffer a schedule that runs wild; you’re the boss and the employee.

1. Achieve Goals in Stages

Let’s not dodge the elephant in the room. Finances are one of the most stressful topics for most people. According to a study by Northwestern Mutual, “An overwhelming 9 in 10 Americans of Americans agree that nothing makes them happier or more confident than feeling like their finances are in order.”

This should come as no surprise. And if you’re on an entrepreneurial journey, it’s likely that finances are one of the things that orbit your mind. Probably right as you’re falling asleep on a Sunday night.

This brings us to one of the key tips to thriving in this self-sustaining quest. Financial stability is a clear and present goal. It may be your ultimate goal or simply the means to the end; freedom to do what you want with your life. But it isn’t the only goal you’ll celebrate, and definitely won’t happen without a handful of other wins along the way.

As entrepreneurs, it’s crucial that we organize our goals. Actually, let’s call them checkpoints. Because this is a triathlon, not a 50m sprint. And like with a triathlon, there are many goals and places to celebrate how far we’ve come.

It’s time for yet another beneficial list: Objective and Subjective Goals.

  • Objective Goals: Quantifiable checkpoints in your entrepreneurial journey. These can be financial goals, sales goals, social metrics, and more.
  • Subjective Goals: Measured by you and you alone. These are goals relating to your internal voice; feeling secure enough to start a podcast or proudly announce to your family that you’re a writer.

Draw out a 20-year timeline and decide on long, mid, and short-term goals. If you want to be super-extra, use different colors and separate objective from subjective. What do you want to get accomplished by the end of the week? End of the month? By New Year’s Eve?

You’ll surprise yourself with how much you can achieve in far less time than you expect. But the golden tip is this: don’t try to achieve it all by the end of the week. Celebrate the small and large wins, but acknowledge that they will not all happen at once.

And there we have it. A few simple tips that will help you avoid burning out before you get off the line.

In Summary:

3. Separate Passions from Niches: Determine what is valuable to the world and what is just for you. Safeguard the things that bring you the most joy.

2. Assign Value and Schedule Time: Keeping organized is how we take control of our priceless allowance of time. Hold yourself accountable.

1. Achieve Goals in Stages: Don’t be in a hurry to win all the races at once. Success in this game is a compounding situation and requires patience.

Whether you’re just starting out, planning your journey, or somewhere along the way — you should always champion your own efforts. While doing so, it’s key to be objective about the things that will serve you best.

This is a journey. And as with all journeys, each one is different for every individual. But I’m rooting for you, no matter what your path looks like.

See you out there.

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