The summer after high school, my friend Jacob and I embarked upon a road trip from Chicago to Seattle, down the coast to Los Angeles, and back on Route 66. It was an amazing journey that pushed my 2002 Toyota Matrix nearly to it’s limit. In that trip alone, I spent time in 20 different states and made more memories than I can count. However, one of my favorite memories came even before we even got in the car.
As you might imagine, I had never planned a trip of this scale before this point. I was freshly 18 years old, and every trip I had taken had either been through a community service organization or planned by my family. This was the first time that I was free to plan a trip for myself and go wherever I could with the money I had earned at camp. It was a truly freeing sensation.
As Jacob and I sat down to plan the trip, we felt as though the skies were the limit. Before we even opened the map, we both shared where wanted to go most. Jacob would be attending USC in the fall, so he wanted to go to L.A. I had heard great things about Glacier National Park, so Montana was the top of my list. During that first talk we went through a ton of bucket-list ideas: Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Four Corners, Seattle. We put all our ideas onto the table without even questioning if it were feasible or if we were dreaming too big. And then, we opened the map.
I often think back on this experience when I initiate a new project at work. All too often, I find myself looking at the limitations in place before ideating potential paths to take. I get bogged down by what’s feasible, what’s been done before, what’s not an option, and this greatly limits my ability to dream big. If I had done this with Jacob, we would have never made it to L.A. We would’ve started by opening the map and finding the quickest route out of the city, winding up in Indiana.
So instead of starting by focusing on the map and seeing all the places you can’t go, I suggest starting with where you want to go. Then, find a way to get there.