Last week at a PAMPI event, I was speaking with friends and fellow members about this year's WEC. I explained that I wasn't able to go this year, but I hoped to go next year, when it will be hosted in Minneapolis. Before I realized the implications, I further mentioned that by that time next year, I hoped to be more involved in creating and organizing events in the "mental health world", and that WEC would offer a great opportunity for me to meet suppliers and other planners who I may want to work with on these new ventures.
It occurred to me shortly after the conversation that not only had I just verbalized my goals and plans, but I had put a bit of a timeline on them. If I'm to be networking at a major international event at this time next year, I'd better well have something in place to network about! Furthermore, I'd not only given myself this timeline, but I'd discussed it with others in the industry whose opinion I greatly respect. They could actually hold me accountable for it! I mean that in the best possible way. At least for me, when I discuss plans with someone I trust, I generally enjoy it when they followup and help to keep me on track. Not that I'm putting that pressure on these particular friends and mentors, but I feel like the *could* ask me about it, and that makes me want to have some progress to report. It also motivates me to set a timeline and budget that includes being prepared to attend WEC next year. How easily and unintentionally this motivation was put in place was an eye opener for me.
My advice is this: accountability is key. If you have a goal or a dream that you want to put into action, but are afraid or unsure how to do so, tell someone. Tell someone who you trust and respect. Whose opinion you can ask, and who could help keep you on track if you request, but will be supportive and positive. Set a timeline that revolves around something definitive, that's not within your control to move. In my case, WEC is going to happen on the dates that MPI sets, regardless of if I'm ready or not. You could use something personal, like the end of the year or your birthday, but be careful with this as it's easy enough to just say "well, maybe by the end of January instead of New Year." If there's a professional event that you can choose as a marker (if it's a professional goal/dream), that's a help. Not only is it static and not within your control, but it gives you a reason to meet your goal - you want to be ready to share your progress with colleagues and peers by that date.
And now, without further adieu, it is time to start creating a timeline for these projects that I hope to be ready to network about next July. Even though it's a year away, I'm sure it will be here before I know it. I look forward to sharing my progress with you all, and because I love to give back and inspire others, I'd be happy to help you keep on track with any ventures you are undertaking - all you have to do is ask!