Every Goal Must Have A Plan

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on January 11, 2011

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Good morning!

As you may have seen in my 11 in 2011 resolution list, one of my goals for 2011 is to write a vegan cookbook proposal and sell the idea to a publisher. During Project Food Blog, I was contacted by a few literary agents and I am currently in the process of figuring out my next steps.

I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the idea of ‘where to start’ with my cookbook proposal and these feelings have taken me back to my thesis days. My undergraduate thesis and my Master’s thesis were both huge undertakings and I remember how I used to feel so overwhelmed whenever I had to take the first step and get started.

For me, starting a big project has always been the most difficult part.

Once I have started and I have a plan, then it seems to get a bit easier. That is just how I work.

My fear of beginning large projects has something to do with the high expectations I place on myself. I tend to put off big projects for fear of not doing a good job; if I can put it off, maybe the right idea will just ‘hit me’ and then I can move forward. But, that is rarely the case. It takes work, and lots of it, to get big projects off to a good start. Sometimes, I wait and wait for the ‘perfect’ idea, when I already have very good ideas to work with. Every project needs a solid foundation and while they shouldn’t be rushed, procrastination doesn’t do any good. I am really guilty of procrastination with large endeavors.

I mentioned ‘once I have a plan’ things seems to flow more smoothly. Having specific and attainable goals are always present in my life, but every good goal must have a plan to go along with it too! The reason why I have felt overwhelmed with my cookbook proposal is that I did not have a plan to guide me.

Every specific goal must have a specific plan to go along with it.

I would like to share my experiences with this process as much as I can. I also want my book to be largely based on your feedback. What types of recipes do you want to see in a vegan cookbook? What ingredients do you like to cook and bake with? What questions do you have about vegan cooking and baking? All of these things are things that I think about and I hope to address many of these things as I go through the process. (Don’t worry about answering the questions now as I will be creating a survey at some point). I want the book to be not only a reflection of my fun approach to a vegan diet, but also a reflection of what types of things you would want to see in a vegan cookbook.

I thought I would show you how I was finally able to get this project off the ground and running.

I have been brainstorming cookbook ideas for over a year now, but my brainstorming never translated into much more than that. I finally realized that I needed to take the next step and create an outline, so I started a Word document and I created a chapter outline of how my cookbook may look. What sections do I want? What would I call them? What types of recipes do I want to focus on? How many recipes per section? How would the order of the sections flow?

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While I always do my brainstorming on paper, I prefer not to use pen and paper when doing a large outline. I find an electronic Word document is much cleaner because I can easily delete things and have a clean looking document at all times.

I have half a notebook filled with brainstorming ideas from Project Food Blog!

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and weird diagrams apparently! haha

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Don’t ask. I really don’t know what’s going on in these diagrams. I think I wanted to make a raw layered pumpkin pie at one point. Then I realized the challenge was to make a BAKED good. Doh!

I worked on my outline this weekend and I am already feeling so much better about things. Once I planned out the chapters in my book, I started to place recipes or recipe ideas underneath each chapter that I may want to include. Over time, this is how my cookbook proposal will grow. Of course, what I plan now will likely change many times over, but at least there is a plan there to guide me and that is all that matters in the initial stages!

Do you have any big projects looming in 2011? Do you suffer from procrastination or fear of failure when big projects loom? Have you ever been intimidated by a large project? How did you begin?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

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Christina January 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I’m really thinking about writing a cookbook as well but I have no clues as to how to pitch my idea. Did you pitch your idea prior to creating an outline? Any tips you can forward would be absolutely amazing!

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Sarah January 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Angela,
I think we are very similar people–type A, big dreamers, (it’s hard when those things go together, right?!!), optimists, similar Master’s degrees, similar research interests, similar interest in getting a book published. At the end of November, I went to a lecture by a published author called “Unleashing Your Creativity.” During the lecture, I realized that one of the biggest things holding me down is my perfectionism and fear of failure. He shared some very helpful suggestions and a great motivational video for helping us to realize that failure is okay. One of the best suggestions he gave was to start REALLY small, like you’ve done here, and not to pressure yourself beyond a small task each week. With his suggestions, I’ve been able to get a LOT accomplished since then, including devoting over 50 hours in December to researching how to get a book published. I thought I “don’t have time to research this,” but he said to start with a 5 minute task and build up to an hour long task. Within a week, I had found 30 minutes to 3 hours of every day that I didn’t think I had. I can’t recap everything he said here in this comment, but I wrote out some of his thoughts and my reflections in this post: http://muchfruit.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/a-commitment-to-trying/ (I hate it when people link to their own blog posts in comments, but really, I promise that it is relevant.)

I would also really recommend the book “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published” by Arielle Eckstrut and David Henry Sterry. It makes the process easier to understand and helps you break it down into achievable steps. I think you would be really excited about how many of the steps you actually have completed just by having this blog. You definitely have a built in audience and clearly defined voice and personality! You are awesome and I know we will be seeing your cookbook in stores soon! :)

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Kari January 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm

When I was doing my PhD, the automatic Table of Contents feature of Word was my salvation. I had fun setting it up, and then it served as the document outline and plan, which I just (“just”!) had to write to. So I agree wholeheartedly with your approach :)

I would buy your book no matter what goes in it – I am very excited at the prospect! – but dishes that aren’t too complicated; that you’ve had good feedback on from non-vegans; and / or that can be tweaked if someone doesn’t like certain ingredients, or doesn’t have particular kitchen appliances (I don’t have a good processor, sadly), would be great. Best of luck with the project Ange – and congratulations on making it possible!

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Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble January 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Good luck with your cookbook! I love how much thought and planning your scribble in your notebook. I do all my ideas in my head and then when my foods prepared I’ll go “dang, I forgot to add the spinach!”.

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[email protected] January 12, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Angela,
It’s funny I just read this post a couple minutes after posting about my own frustration.
Two big projects I want to tackle this year are:
– write a book
– start my own counseling business (I’m a teacher now)

Just like you, I have always wanted to do both these things but with the book, I just kinda waited for all the ideas to be clear to me, which as you said, just doesn’t happen! I had a miscarriage in October and that heart break ignited my realization that I just need to take action and make my passions and dreams come true.

Here’s a link to the post I wrote tonight about my epiphany. No big deal if you don’t get the chance to read it, I know how busy you are!
http://www.closertome.net/2011/01/focusing-on-journey-not-destination.html

I just found it funny how similar our posts were!

I’d wish you luck with the cookbook but I know you won’t need it, you’ll be successful without question!

Rachel

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 13, 2011 at 10:57 am

Wow amazing! Loved this part

‘When we look only at the destination, everything in between can seem unattainable to us. When our focus is only on the long road ahead, we can be so overwhelmed that we quit before we have started, or we will start with feelings of reservation and defeat before even one foot has stepped ahead. Either will lead to undesirable results. You need to focus on where you now stand in relation to where you were. Regardless of how much longer it will take you to get to your goal, or how much more effort is required, know that you have moved forward and where you stand now is progress nonetheless. If your final goal is that important to you, then I recommend you do what I did today – focus on the steps you take (regardless of how small), and enjoy your journey. Or at least appreciate it for where it is taking you.’

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Elena January 12, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I must stop reading your blog! It is just wrong when I read through your post in the Google Reader and almost every one of them goes back into my UNREAD pile, so I can look over it again. What’s up with that? Must you be really that good? ;)))

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 13, 2011 at 10:55 am

awww ;)

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Diana January 13, 2011 at 9:41 am

Hi Angela!

I’ve been lurking for about a year now, first time joining in on comments. I’m constantly inspired by your attitude, passion, and determination. I especially love your series about how you bravely broke away from the day job you hated to follow your passion and start your business.

I just want to encourage you that your instincts and follow-through are right on and will get you where you need to go! I’m finishing up my certification in life coaching (through the Coaches Training Institute) and have been linking some of your blogs to send as inspiration to a few of my clients. Life coaching is all about asking clients what’s truly important to them and what their values are. From there, we hatch a plan for how to live that out and the coach provides accountability, helps with brainstorming, and provides support to help push the client forward in the most effective and energizing ways. We also help deal with what we call “saboteurs” – the voices inside our heads that hold us back. From what I’ve read you are extremely self-aware and have got all those elements well-handled! Please know that if you’d like some extra one-on-one accountability, I would love to return the favor of your inspiration. Feel free to e-mail me anytime if you’d like some free coaching – I’d be honored.

Thanks again for your inspiration!

Basking in your glow,
Diana
: )

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 13, 2011 at 10:55 am

Hi Diana! Wow you are so sweet, thank you so much for the offer and for sharing your story!

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Lou January 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I am so delighted for you, if you need a tester, I’d love to help! although I know you have about a squillion other people who’d climb over my cold dead salad leftovers to do it! I will be preordering your book the Instant it goes on Amazon :D

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Catherine January 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I would definitely buy your book! Two things that you’ve been doing lately that I would love to see incorporated in your book are 1) quick, easy snacks or meals that only use 5 ingredients; and 2) wheat- and gluten-free options or modifications for your dishes. Good luck with the journey!

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(what runs) Lori January 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm

This could, quite possibly, be one of the most insightful and helpful posts I have read- and NEEDED to read in my life right now. I’m struggling with wanting and needing change and trying to find that change but have had a major case of procrastination (or waiting for my “idea” to just come to me)- so again, SO HELPFUL!

I love your incredibly creative meals and recipes- seriously, the recipes you have now on your blog are by far what would sell an amazing vegan recipe book.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

so happy to hear this!

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Allie January 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Hi Angela! Also a vegan, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now. I really enjoy following your culinary and fitness adventures, but this is my first comment so far. What you wrote about taking on a huge project, such as writing a cookbook, really resonated with me as I am currently writing my Senior Thesis. Getting past the initial overwhelming feeling was certainly a challenge. Once I got past that and set up a plan, I have been making much more progress. I completely agree that formulating a specific plan rather than a vague outline makes the project seem manageable. Thank you for posting this as well as all of your other inspirational stories, recipes, and endeavors! Best of luck on the cookbook! I’m very much looking forward to seeing what you create :)

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Ffion @ Chocolate and Raspberries January 21, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I definitely suffer from procrastination or fear of failure when big projects loom! What usually gets me started is that I am running out of time! There’s nothing quite like an old fashioned deadline to get the creative juices flowing!

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