Thursday, August 15, 2013

Do Something Big

UPDATE: This was later published on AOL. 

Might it be time to attempt a big goal, your most important accomplishment yet, maybe your first big accomplishment? Here are examples and questions to unearth your Big Idea: 

Examples to trigger your Big Idea
You needn't do these yourself. Should you have a partner?

  • Create a Udemy course on what you know: from business-plan writing to bowling to bargaining.
  • Direct a play such as Rent or West Side Story with troubled high-school kids. 
  • Truck adoptable dogs and cats from shelters in a region with too many to shelters in a region with too few.
  • Mentor someone who has much unrealized potential.
  • Create a website that pairs-up people for activities other than dating: MentorMatch, Activity Partner Pair-Up, Book Club Maker, etc.
  • Write a book or make a video that says something important. For example, whatever career you've been in--from clerk to CEO--write a book that helps people in your field become more successful. Perhaps base it on interviews with people in the field, luminaries and just plain folks. If you can't sell your book to a publisher, self-publish on CreateSpace and sell it on Amazon. If you can't get Steven Spielberg to make your movie, post it on YouTube.
  • Start a charter or private school for an underserved category of students:  kids who hate standard school, ADD gifted kids, whatever.
  • Raise beaucoup bucks for your favorite charity or advocacy group. For a list of efficient charities, see A new book on how to pick a charity wisely: Reinventing Philanthropy.
  • Invent something. Example: a robot that would help elders who fall to get up.
  • Start a business where there's a crying need, for example, a child care center where none exists.
Questions to unearth your Big Idea
  • What's been your biggest success so far? What could be a bigger or more important version of that? It needn't be something you accomplished at work. For example, if you played in the community orchestra, perhaps you aspire to conduct Beethoven's Fifth.
  • If you had to give away a million dollars, to whom or what would you give it? For example, if you'd give the money to NARAL: ProChoice America, perhaps you'd want to be a volunteer coordinator for it. 
  • What societal problem are you most concerned about? For example, if politicians frustrate you, do you want to run for office? If you're sick of traffic gridlock, do you want to join a local transportation committee?
  • Is there a product or service you'd love to improve? Let's say you'd like to improve health care but are intimidated by the problem's massiveness. You might become a patient advocate, helping patients get the care they need. 
  • Assume there's a God. What would God tell you is the most important project He or She put you on this earth to undertake? 
  • Sometimes, a direct approach is best: What's the biggest idea you could see yourself motivated to tackle?
Harder than coming up with an idea is developing a plan and especially executing it well. Create your to-do list and get expert advice and hands-on help as needed. Try to treat setbacks as challenges; don't give up prematurely. But as Kenny Rogers sang, "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." If you have to toss in your cards, take solace in knowing that gives you an opportunity to play another hand.

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