I’ve been thinking a lot about next steps in recent weeks. Thinking about what it is that I want, what do I want to achieve. I’ve been really fortunate to have achieved a lot of professional success. I’ve attained my Consultant post, which has been the aim for 16+ years. The question that I keep getting asked therefore is, what next?
Now I’ve been saying, and I think this is true, that I need to be in a holding pattern for a while. Like most people during the pandemic I’ve become tired and burn out and even when we get to the point where life becomes the ‘new normal’, whatever that is, it will take time to recover. The problem being that although those words come out of my mouth, my brain has other plans and ideas.
I’m beginning to think that this next goal will be more personal and less professional. It feels like a long time since I had a goal that was for the whole of me, rather than for Dr Cloutman-Green. So I’m going to write it here. Not because I think I will manage to achieve it any time soon, but because I want to make a commitment to myself. I want to write a book. I know, I know, it would make me spit out my tea too, but there I’ve said it. I’ve put it out into the world.
There are two schools of thought on whether sharing this is a wise move or not. One suggests that by sending it out into the world is the first stage in crystallising a thought or dream into reality. The other is that you are setting yourself up to fail as if you don’t then take the steps needed you appear as someone who can’t deliver, thus actually making your dream harder to achieve. I’m a glass is half full kind of girl and so I’m going with the making my dream more likely option. I am also being very clear and boundaried about what I am saying. I am saying I wish to write a book, that is under my control. I am not stating that such an item would ever get published, let alone earn money, as those things are less under my remit. My dream is to have the time and energy to create and produce, anything more would be a bonus.
Now, I acknowledge that my grammar is appalling and I don’t claim to be the best writer in the world. Writing the blog for the last year however has reminded me of how much I have always just loved to write. I find it cathartic and a much needed creative outlet. During the pandemic, where opportunities to network have been limited, I’ve also found it a great way to feel connected. I know I come across as very extroverted but in reality there’s little I love more than having my own space and so this blog has allowed me to connect without feeling the pressure of in person.
Now I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a plan. Afterall, a dream needs action in order to become a reality. This is something that is completely outside of my knowledge base so the first steps are about thinking and research in order to inform action:
- Further formulate the concept i.e. what kind of book? I actually have 2 ideas. One is turning this blog into a book format. The second is that I also have an outline structure for a Pathology murder mystery. I’m excited by both, but right now I think option 1 is more achievable with my current resources (Norman I also haven’t forgotten about our project – sorry for being rubbish)
- Review what I already have. If I go for a non fiction book I need to undertake a gap analysis of what I have, what can be modified and what new content is needed. For the fiction version I need to start getting my concepts down so that I know how viable they are
- What good resources are available to me? This is an ambition of plenty of people and there is a wealth of information out there. I need to explore, quality assess and curate what there is so I dont waste time and energy making unforced errors. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, modify it so it works for me, but let’s not start from square one.
- Undertake some appreciative enquiry. Success is often about asking the right questions and making the right connections in order to increase your odds. I have some friends in this field but not in the area I’m thinking of working in. I need to be brave and put myself out there to gain insight into the ‘Known Unknowns’
- Use the knowledge and information gained to put together a project plan. Establish some small steps that can make the project as a whole less overwhelming
- Establish my success criteria. What does success look like? For right now it’s the process of creating that will feel like a success with a stretch goal of sharing what is produced, but that might change based on what I discover
- Research your audience. If I decided to include sharing what is produced as part of my success criteria who would like to see such a book? If I were to share the content what would that look like and what would be needed?
For me any dream is achievable, the main thing is to be realistic about what the dream actually is and what resource and commitment it will take. Dreams don’t just happen, they require work and so to understand what is needed takes some time. That is not a reason to not aim high. So here I am, at the start of the process knowing it might take years but excited to see where it might take me. Dream big people and take it one day at a time.
All opinions in this blog are my own