Dream as who you want to be–but scope for who you are today

When considering a new project or strategy or relationship or business venture, it’s not just easy to get excited by the possibilities–it’s necessary. If you don’t have a vision for what you want to be, you’ll never get there. But it’s also easy–and often project-ending–to set yourself up for failure by expecting too much of yourself too soon.

Dreaming up a grand new SaaS company is a blast. Going through weeks or months of market research, product definition, and customer interviews is a slog. And that’s before you even start building the thing–and all the while you’re mostly trying to prove that the idea is a waste of time that you shouldn’t pursue, and hoping to fail in that pursuit.

Spinning up with a new client is exciting. Getting to know their business, their people, their codebase, their processes, their goals–it’s a lot of work. And since you’ve already made the sale, you’re already pressuring yourself to deliver value, and may feel like you’re failing to do the high-impact work that matters while flailing your way through the low-impact work that doesn’t.

It’s great to dream, and drum up your excitement for what’s possible. It’s even great to plan a pathway there. But when you’re taking the tactical-level steps, and especially the first ones, scope your way to success. The questions you need to ask your new teammates to do the most junior-level of work at a snail’s pace are the work. The research you need to do to validate your idea is the work. The first steps are the hardest, and the most important, and in the short term, the least rewarding. But you have to do them. Don’t beat yourself up while you do.

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