Have you ever taken on a project that seemed overwhelmingly complex or even impossible? Or wanted to accomplish an audacious goal, but procrastinated due to the feeling you were in over your head and had no idea where to start?
When my kids were younger, they asked me if I could build them a treehouse. The question seemed ludicrous to me as I barely owned any tools. The fact that I never had a father, meant that I didn’t have any experience in carpentry or woodworking. I had no skill in fixing things let alone building them from scratch. The project seemed impossible as I didn’t think I could do it. Someone else might be able to tackle this, not me.
I also didn’t want to let my kids down, so I said I would give it a shot. When I asked the kids what they wanted the treehouse to look like, they asked for the world. They wanted a treehouse with:
- a ladder
- a slide
- a trap door
- a bucket pulley system
- a fireman pole
- a zip line
- and a bridge (which likely meant adding a second treehouse)
Before I could get the kids to tell me what the bridge would connect to, my son said he even wanted a zip line that would take him from his second-floor bedroom window to the bridge on the treehouse. I knew I was in over my head, even before zip line idea.
4 Simple Steps
We built the treehouse within a couple of months, despite having no clue where to start, nor any confidence in my ability to use power tools. I took the following steps to get to go from crazy idea to reality.
- Visualize success. Picture the goal and what it would look like. Don’t be afraid to make this a big goal that makes you feel uncomfortable. Michael Hyatt calls this “imagining the possibilities.” I imagined the joy in my kids’ faces while playing on the treehouse. After consulting with the kids, I drew a concept sketch. We went big. The sketch included two tree houses with crisscrossing slides.
- Make a plan. A plan is crucial to outlining the steps to be taken. You don’t need to figure out the entire plan right away. Identifying the next couple of actions can help you get started, which will eventually provide insight to the rest of the path.
- It’s ok to get help. I got some outside help in the form of a couple different treehouse design books and took notes at park and school playgrounds. I also had help from my neighbors and some of their tools when it came time to start building.
- Make it manageable. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, I broke the project down into phases. I decided that I would just build a single treehouse with a balcony, ladder, and bucket the first year. The rest would wait until the next year. I wanted to start small and gain momentum to avoid getting overwhelmed and stuck with an unfinished project. The books also gave me some practical step-by-step instructions along with a starting point for the wood and hardware required.
- Take action. With a plan and list of materials needed in hand, we just had to go to the home improvement store and get to work. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.”
We built the first treehouse in less than 2 months. The following year I built the second treehouse and the bridge after seeing that building a treehouse wasn’t impossible. Each subsequent year, we added the slides, a fireman pole, zip line etc. to keep things interesting. You won’t find out treehouse on the show Treehouse Masters, but that doesn’t matter as our family built it together.
In case you were wondering, the zip line did not run from my son’s bedroom window. It went from the treehouse to our neighbor’s tree instead. Apparently, my wife (who has better judgment) and our insurance company found that idea problematic.
We made mistakes, which required multiple trips to the store, but we learned lessons along the way. My kids also enjoyed helping their old man in the building phases.
While the treehouse project seemed impossible at first, it proved to be achievable, even for a person with no experience. All it took was visualizing success, making a plan, tackling the project in manageable parts, and taking action.
What seemingly impossible goals have you tackled in your life?
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