Why September is the perfect month for winning your inner battles

I was pleased as punch to learn some weeks ago that September is Self-Improvement Month. While this doesn't mean our self-improvement should be reserved only for those four weeks out of the year, it does mean we can kickstart a few useful practices (or jumpstart any of our fallen-by-the-wayside good habits) during back-to-school season—which, for many of us, tends to function as 'January Lite'.

What is it that you want to bring to life before the end of the year?

Do you want to have written the first draft of your novel? (Obviously November is NaNoWriMo, but why wait until then when you can start now and have more than a single month to write it?)

Do you want to finally open the doors to your virtual creative residency for mothers?

Do you want to fashion a fitness program for the kids in your community?

Do you want to get the ball rolling on planning your Summer 2018 tour of the national parks?

Do you want to put together your first exhibition proposal to send to galleries?

Do you want to raise $50k in charitable donations to your nonprofit organization?

Think about your thing right now. Seriously—take a moment to hold it in your mind, to name it and give it a shape, to envision its actual becoming this year.

In preparation for all the good, juicy stuff you're going to create in the final quarter of 2017 (notice I didn't say 'hope to create'—that's right, you're an action-taker), I've got a plan to help you make the most of this month.

Each week, beginning in next Tuesday's post, I'll share with you a distinction that will up your doing game and render your feeling tendencies moot (at least as far as your particular project or ambition is concerned).

I'll also invite you to participate in a specific challenge around each week's distinction, so you can have some fun with these concepts in real-time.

Feelers vs. doers

If you don't feel particularly good at taking action, fear not: I didn't either.

When I launched my coaching business in early 2015, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I'd never started a business before; the only money I'd ever made in my life (besides cash from babysitting) came in the form of a paycheck; and my deep-seated desire to execute everything flawlessly the first time I tried it made for a bumpy beginning to entrepreneurship.

So, I spent a huge portion of that first year doing whatever I felt like doing. If a blog post seemed like a good idea and I felt up to writing something, I cracked open my laptop and tried to offer a new perspective on a topic of interest. If I got frustrated with my efforts to create something from scratch, I'd turn to "research," and proceed to kill an afternoon with my nose buried in the pages of another coach's site. If social media felt important, I'd wile away the hours on Canva, playing with fonts, and then maybe I'd post it on Instagram.

I was in motion, sure. No one could accuse me of doing nothing.

However, I wasn't in business. Not truly. Because, to be in business, I would've had to have prioritized experimentation—that is, the process of taking action consistently with a goal of determining something previously unknown—over my feelings.

In his book, 100 Ways to Motivate Others: How Great Leaders Can Produce Insane Results Without Driving People Crazy, the brilliant coach, Steve Chandler, says:

Steve Chandler

I was a feeler, and it took me the better part of a year (and a lot of unnecessary grief!) to become a doer.

How did I finally kick it into gear?

I took one small step. I started a newsletter with the promise that I'd send it out every single Monday, come hell or high water. It didn't matter what I wrote in it—I was using it as a tool to experiment with content—it mattered only that I showed up every week and reported my findings. Whether I felt like it...or not.

I spent 78 weeks writing this thing that was a cross between an email to a friend, a travel missive, and a personal development think piece. Was it perfect? Far from it. Was it a solid indication to my audience and the Universe that I was in business as a life coach? Not quite. Did I learn anything? HOLY BATMAN, SO FREAKIN' MUCH.

That's the thing about taking action:

The worst that can result is a learning opportunity.

 

Not taking action, however, has a far worse outcome: nothing. Nothing happens, nothing changes, there's nothing to measure.

In my guide (seriously, if you still haven't downloaded it, I don't know how else to tell you that it's all yours, free for the taking, so GO GET IT!), I say that a feeling is very often a byproduct of action, not a prerequisite for it.

Well, the same goes for learning; we can soak up all the external information we want (the freebie opt-ins, the e-courses, the webinars), but until we use that information for personal transformation—until we transform ourselves into experimenters, into action-takers—we won't actually learn much at all.

Take a moment right now to consider all that you already know about the thing you'd like to create in the world.

Keeping in mind those glorious byproducts of action (positive feelings and unparalleled learning experiences), what small step will you take right now?