How to Turn a Big Idea into Reality: Set Clear Goals and Get to Work

In my first post, I told you I have been working on a project that came from a Big Idea. So, by now you’re probably wondering just what was my Big Idea. Allow me to share!

My Big Idea was to write a children’s book chock-full of colorful illustrations! And it sure took a long time to complete all of them. In fact, it took a whole summer and a whole school year! Plus, I spent another summer and part of this school year writing this series of blog posts and planning my book launch.

I need be honest… it wasn’t easy to write a book and create all the illustrations. Without setting goals and my parents’ helpful reminders, I’m pretty sure I’d still be back working on the first illustrations. The whole time I had my main end goal in mind, but I also had to set lots of smaller goals to make it to the end.

One thing that was helpful in keeping my goals was our family meeting on most Sunday afternoons. What we do during the meeting is have a check-in of the past week, look ahead at the coming week, and then set one or two goals we each want to accomplish by the next meeting. That helped me break down my end goal into smaller pieces so that it was easier to know what I had to get done in just one week at a time.

My parents are the ones who really taught me about goal-setting, so I’m going to let my mom jump in here to explain that a little more.

What we’ve learned about setting goals

Mom here. If you’ve read or watched anything on productivity, there is a lot of talk about goal-setting. You may have heard how goal-setting is necessary to stay focused and on-track when you want to gain traction in specific areas in your life. While this is true, your success largely depends on two things:

  1. How clearly defined are your goals?
  2. Are your goals written down where you can see them each day?

Defined Goals

My husband and I have worked though Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever course a couple times. When it comes to goals, Hyatt explains that clearly defined goals are SMARTER goals. This acronym stands for specific, measurable, actionable, risky, time-keyed, exciting, and relevant.

Written Goals

Hyatt strongly encourages us to write our goals down and to know our WHY. Then we need to revisit these statements often, daily even, especially when we get stuck. Why write down our goals? There is a study from the Dominican University of California done by Professor Gail Matthews. She found that when we write down our goals, we have a 42% greater chance of achieving them. I’ll take that!

Vague vs Clear Goals

Thanks for that explanation, Mom! Now I want to give you some examples of vague goals vs. clear goals.

Vague Goal: I will do all my illustrations this summer.

Clear Goal: I will work on illustrating at least 1 hour a morning, 4 mornings a week during the months of June, July and August.

Vague Goal: I want to blog about my Big Idea this year.

Clear Goal: I will create a launch plan, write an outline and drafts for each post, working an hour a day, 4 days a week, during the months of September and October.

Through one summer I set aside an hour each day, give or take, and just worked on illustrating. It took many baby steps, but eventually I met one goal at a time. In order for me to be able to do these illustrations, I had already written the first draft of my book. My mom and I would carefully read through one chapter at a time, and she would type up a descriptive list as I explained what each illustration looked like in my mind. Once I had a list, I was ready to get to checking off those illustrations.

Goal Setting = Learning Opportunity

While it is easy to access many different tools in Procreate, I had to learn exactly how to do this.

Before I even started illustrating, I learned how to use an app called Procreate, as I mentioned in my last post. My dad bought a class on Udemy, and my sister Faith, my mom and I all took the course. It taught us all sorts of things about Procreate, so then I was ready to start drawing. (In case you’re interested in the particular course we used, it was called “Drawing and Painting on the iPad with Procreate” by Brad Colbow.)

I had already sketched out some illustrations to go with my story in my sketch book. For those, I could just take a picture of them with my iPad, trace them in Procreate, and color them in. Now that I know the app better, I don’t have to trace my original drawing. I can just draw it in Procreate.

Setting goals doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes.

For example, I had to learn about DPI. DPI is the amount of dots (pixels) per inch in an image. For a picture book, it takes a minimum of 300 DPI to produce a clear, printed picture. I learned this the hard way. What I started out doing was creating my canvas using only 120 DPI for all of my images! Oops! I had to redo all of the images I had already created for my picture book. Well, that was disappointing! 😞 But I didn’t want my images in my book to be pixelated. I wanted them to be high quality. So, back to the drawing board I went… literally. I had to work on fixing these mistakes during the school year, but then I also added a few more illustrations. Part of me is actually glad that I had to all that rework, because I got more comfortable with using Procreate, and my second drafts looked much better.

Looking back, I see working through my mistakes was a great learning experience (even if I didn’t think so at the time!).

You’re maybe wondering how many illustrations I made for my book.

Here is the final count:

  • 1 title page
  • 5 two-page spreads
  • 22 full-page scenes
  • 6 chapter images
  • 22 “minis” (that’s what I called the smaller images)

That makes 56 illustrations for the GRAND TOTAL!!!

The next part in this series of posts will teach about how I organized my ideas and how I made it though the nitty gritty process of editing.

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