"How do I choose my ONE GOAL to work on?"

Which idea (of the many ideas I have) do I act on first?

Where should I begin when I’ve got a list of things I’d like to start doing or areas in which I’d like to start improving?

Over the past year, I’ve received messages from many of you that pose some variation of the same question. Although I love sharing my thoughts with each of you on a case-by-case basis (and I’ll always do so), I figure it’s time I answer this question here on the blog—for future folks to discover and hopefully find some resonance.

This question is such a good one! It really speaks to a universal and pervasive desire to Do All The Things Now, and it also tells me that one of the biggest, most common obstacles to starting is a feeling of having too many worthwhile options. Naturally, if you can’t suss out which thing on your list is The Right Thing to attack first (because everything seems important and deserving of immediate attention), it’s easiest to do nothing at all—and to hope that one day, you’ll revisit the list and some clarity will emerge on its own; you’ll know what you need to do.

To be fair, I do think that happens; I’ve seen it firsthand, the setting aside of the list, then the later revisiting of the list, and BAM! Clarity (usually because circumstances have changed and priorities have been revealed) and forward movement.

That being said, what an utterly passive way to live. I suspect what most of us really want is to stretch and challenge ourselves to create momentum and possibility in our lives, rather than sit around waiting for it to whack us over the head.

Another thing: Time is of the essence. I’m not implying we need to rush, but I am saying that we’ve got no control over how much time we get on this earth...and we’ve got a lot more control over how we spend what time we do have than this passive approach would suggest.

So, then: how to proactively choose a starting place when the list is long, worthwhile, and perhaps a bit daunting.

You’re going to hate me for this answer, but here it is:

CHOOSE.

I mean it. Pick one of the projects or endeavors on your list, and begin.

Why such an unscientific/un-coach-y approach? Why no pro/con lists? Why no weighing of priorities?

Because it doesn’t really matter.

How do I know it doesn’t matter?

Well, you’ve already proven this by the fact that you’re unable to decipher which thing is more important than the other things.

Obviously, none is more important—because if it was, you’d know.

You’d know that getting your body back to a healthy and fit place is the most essential thing you can do right now.

Or finally beginning your memoir.

Or decluttering your closets and dressers.

Or socializing more.

You’d know—without having to deliberate.

As for your deliberation—this constant hemming and hawing over your list—and your subsequent lack of action because The Right Answer feels too inconspicuous? It tells me a few things:

  1. Unfortunately and probably unknowingly, you’ve already made your choice (and it’s not a great one, to be honest). You’ve chosen fear over action. Fear of everything on your list, fear of picking the wrong thing, fear of failing at whichever thing you do finally pick to begin, fear even of the possibly wonderful changes that will come about once you commit and take the first step forward.

  2. You don’t actually want any of the things on your list. Not truly. Not enough. Or if you do want them, it’s because you want the outcome only; you want to have done them or achieved them—but you don’t necessarily want to put in the elbow grease that’s required to make them happen for yourself. In this sense, your wants are a bit more like fairy godmother wishes.

  3. No right answer exists...and on some level, you already know this. So, really, you can’t go wrong just picking one (eeny, meeny, miny, moe style works) and diving in. In all seriousness, you see that you’ve got nothing to lose, right? The alternative to picking one and diving in is doing nothing at all...and continuing to hope that some magic will occur and you’ll finally get what feels like a more concrete plan for moving forward. I promise you this concrete plan will never come. Not without your intervention, that is. You’re the only one who can take the first step, and then, with that initial ACTION, summon the next step to materialize.

So, if none of your options is heads-and-shoulders more important than the others, there is no method, no prescription, no best practice for how to choose what to work on first.

Rather, the method is a verb, a one-word directive, that’s embedded in that sentence: CHOOSE.

If you’re feeling even a little bit galvanized by this post, go ahead and declare in the comments below what you’re choosing to start now that you’re clear there is no Right Thing to do first (and no particular approach—besides taking action—by which you’ll uncover it). I’ll engage with you to see if we can get your next first-step mapped out, so that by the time you click away from this post, you know exactly what you need to do to get moving.


What to do when you don't know what to do

Your Big, "Impossible" Thing scares the crap out of you.

You literally have no clue what the first step is in getting what you dream of...and admitting that feels vulnerable, like you have no business dreaming of something you don't know how to start, let alone achieve.

I have news for you:

YOU'RE ENTITLED TO WANT SOMETHING REGARDLESS OF YOUR KNOWING HOW TO GET IT.

 

Not knowing should never be the reason you don't pursue your Thing. Why?

Look around you! There are RESOURCES everywhere! In the form of people! People who DO know what you don't positively abound on this planet!

Some of my clients have believed they've discovered an exception to this (they haven't): "But what if I don't know what I don't know? Then, how do I figure out where to start, what questions to ask, who I need to hire to help me first?"

YOU FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL ASK ➡️ YOU ⬅️ THE QUESTIONS.

 

You find someone who doesn't care what you think you know or what you think you don't know. Someone who doesn't believe your Stories about yourself, your litanies of self-diagnosed shortcomings, your limitations. Someone who will shower you with questions like it's her job (because it is).

If you're nodding your head because you don't know what you don't know about going after your Thing, I have two things to say to you: 1. It's more common than you think (in other words, you're not alone), and 2. get a coach on your team right now.

Comment below or email me privately to start a conversation, which we can take to the phone. If I can't help you, I'll refer you to someone who can. Resources abound!

Your imagination can be used for WORRY or CREATION—which will you use it for?

As a human and as a coach, I stand for using the imagination as a tool for creation, not for worry.

My coaching role model, Steve Chandler, taught me this distinction, and now I see it everywhere.

You can use your imagination to envision the future YOU FEAR—one that’s ripe with worst case scenarios and disappointments, unrecoverable failures and powerlessness—and then live timidly so as to avoid all that could go wrong (because you’ve given that possible bad fate so much of your energy, it’s become all the more frightening; a boogeyman of epic (though entirely self-created!) proportion).

Or, you can use your imagination to envision the future YOU WANT—the joy, the success, the connection, the health, the you-name-it—and then live fully, robustly, and confidently (because you’ve decided that's the future you’ll engender for yourself).

One is PASSIVE (“What’s going to happen to me?!”), while the other is ACTIVE (“What will I make happen for myself?”).

One is a VICTIM mentality, while the other is an OWNER mentality.

If we all truly have the power to create our reality through the thoughts we think and the beliefs we believe (and we do!), then why not use our imaginations to think up some really awesome, really desirable states of affairs for ourselves...instead of using them to fear the worst, as though we’re living life on some kind of dread spectrum, hopeful that things will be slightly less bad than we fear they’ll be.

Where do you need to shift out of a worry mindset and into a creation mindset? Want some help? (It’s easier to do with a buddy.) Comment below or email me, and we can hop on the phone to get you owning the future you want.

A new way to approach your unfinished project

There are some projects you’ve left unfinished because they no longer appeal to you.

Part of you still feels bound to them because you’re not a quitter, and you equate quitting with a personal failure to follow through.

Here’s something I want to give to you today: PERMISSION.

Go ahead and quit the thing or things you’re no longer interested in; I promise you it doesn’t have to mean anything about your character if you don’t want it to. This is something you get to decide.

But what about those other unfinished projects that still appeal to you, but also scare you on some level?

What happens if, for example, the book you began writing years ago doesn’t wind up being quite as amazing as you’d hoped? You don’t get an agent; the manuscript goes nowhere. Your dreams are dashed. Life as you know it is over because you’re now a failed writer. (Or so you believe.)

What if it winds up being so successful, and you can’t handle the exposure that comes with that? You lose your anonymity; suddenly, you feel pressured to produce more writing—and on a timeline—in a way that spoils the joy you once felt about your craft. You’re now an unhappy—albeit published—writer. The reality of the thing you thought you wanted isn’t so hot after all. Bummer.

Finishing writing the book feels high-stakes either way. And not finishing it feels like a safe way to keep your control over the whole enterprise. In your mind, why give the power away when you can keep it for yourself and not risk anything?

To leave something unfinished then is to stop it from advancing to the next step (especially a next step that might leave you feeling powerless). As long as your project stays in unfinished limbo, nothing bad can happen.

But, tell me: What if finishing your project is less about the project itself and more about who you need to become in the process of completing it? What if that’s what you’re depriving yourself of when you shove it into a desk drawer? What if you’re keeping yourself from experiencing a necessary personal evolution?

Drop a comment below if you want some accountability around seeing your project alllll the way through to completion. I got you.