Start Small

Ideas can often feel like pipe dreams, but if you take them step-by-step, anything is possible. Here's how you can turn the tiny, into the terrific. 


Do you have an amazing, big, terrifying, exciting idea?

Maybe it popped into your mind while you were stuck in traffic. Perhaps it started small, but in a matter of minutes it spread like wildfire, setting your imagination alight with a burning intensity. Maybe that idea was to change career paths, pick up a new course, and study what you love instead of what you thought you ‘should’?

As a Student Advisor for Open Universities Australia, having a conversation with an inspired student is wonderful. We talk about their ambitions, and revel in the excitement together. But inevitably a roadblock appears – the intersection of ideas and execution. You know, actually doing the thing.

For a lot of our students, moving from excitement to commitment is a huge ask, and rightly so. All sorts of things need to be considered, fears need to be ignored, and work needs to be done. And that’s when we pass on some of the best advice we’ve gathered from our mentors.

Take little steps

There’s a long road between a big idea and hitting the big time, and while giant leaps are tempting, they’re not always the answer. Greatness usually starts with a small step. And then a few more small steps. Before you know it, your small steps will add up and take you where you need to go.

No matter if you’re super motivated or an anxious over-analyser, you should break up your goals into small problems to solve. Start with today, and the first problem you have – that might be enrolling, sitting down to a lecture with a wild toddler in the room, or finding easy dinner options without resorting to takeaway. Don’t worry about the next problem until you’ve solved the current one. Write all your tasks down in a list, and then enjoy crossing them out. This sort of focus will help when it all seems too much or if you’re feeling impatient.

Nobody is perfect

We’ve become so familiar with seeing everything oversized, in HD or on Pinterest with an Instagram filter that for some, nothing but the best is acceptable. If ‘go big or go home’ is your mantra, or if the pursuit of perfection makes small achievements seem like failure, you may need to reconsider the pressure you put on yourself.

Give yourself permission to muck something up the first time you try it. Take things slowly, and enjoy trying new things. Embrace failure as a learning experience. Nobody else is perfect, and you don’t have to be either. Once that pressure is released, you’ll probably start to see progress much more quickly.

Knowledge and passion

Your big idea will flounder if it doesn’t keep you excited. Knowledge is important – you need to know your stuff – but passion is what will drive you, so make sure you’re following your heart. If you ever feel like you’re losing your mojo, ask yourself if your heart feels fulfilled. Do you still love what you’re doing, even if the task you’re doing at the moment is a little bit boring? If you’re unsure, try new things and see if something else makes you tick. Once you’re sure you’re where you need to be, remember that not every day will be enjoyable. Every career has its hurdles, but they make the reward at the end that much sweeter.

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