This is your very first step

I can share with you all the best tips for approaching your Big, “Impossible” Thing. I can help you figure out what your first small step is—or, if you’ve already begun (go, you!), I can help you figure out your next small step. I can work with you to create an effective and consistent roadmap for going after and getting the thing you want.

But what I can’t give you is your WHY. WHY you’re driven to pursue your Big, “Impossible” Thing in the first place. The deep need or desire that’s at its core. Only you feel that in your heart, and only you can communicate it to the world.

If you’re not so sure you know your WHY, that right there’s your first step.

Before roadmapping or logo-designing or outlining or editing a single page on your website or sending an email inquiry—before all of that comes the very preliminary, very crucial step of determining WHY you need to realize this vision in your lifetime.

Without your WHY, you can spend all the time in the world on the legwork of your Big, “Impossible” Thing...and still not have a sense of clarity (and that essential resolve) when it comes to the big picture.

A WHY flings you out of bed in the morning. A WHY makes those necessary admin tasks a whole lot less of a drag. A WHY opens your eyes to opportunity and paves the way for serendipity.

Though I can’t just hand you any old WHY, I can help you dig around and determine yours. I promise you it’s there inside you—you only need a little assistance to articulate it.

Are you clear on your WHY? Leave a comment below, or email me—I’d love to learn what you’re up to, and WHY it’s so important to you.

How's your patience/resolve ratio?

Taking small steps toward your “Impossible” Thing requires a healthy ratio of PATIENCE to RESOLVE.

All at once, you must be willing to hang in there for months or years at a time as your “Impossible” Thing slowly takes shape...and you must be tenacious in the day-to-day in order to drive your vision forward into reality.

Though it will feel like outside circumstances are your biggest challenge, I promise you that won’t ever be the case.

Consider this from William Somerset Maugham, British playwright, novelist, and short story writer from the 1930s:

“If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?”

If you don’t change your beliefs, are you in a good place to actually achieve your “Impossible” Thing? Tell me in the comments how you’re handling your own PATIENCE/RESOLVE ratio these days, and if one or the other needs some attention.

Psst! What's a Big, "Impossible" Thing, anyway?

Wondering what the heck I mean when I refer to your Big, “Impossible” Thing? Before you go thinking you don’t have one (and you might not—no shame!—but there’s a chance you don’t even realize you have one), let me break it down a little.

What I mean by ‘big’ is this: It’s big to you. Perhaps no one in your life understands it or cares about it or even knows it’s something you dream about doing, having, or being. It’s not BIG because it’s flashy or because it’ll bring about world peace; it’s BIG because it feels like a crucial part of you and your life experience.

Examples: creating sustainable self-employment, writing a book, building an app, producing a show for Netflix, running a marathon, renovating a condo, raising a million dollars for your charity, becoming a school board member, buying an Airstream and traveling full-time, growing a vegetable garden in your backyard, locating your birth parents, planning a solo trip through Europe, setting up a stall at your local antique mall, coming off of hormonal birth control in advance of trying to start a family, asking for a promotion at work, etc.

What I mean by ‘impossible’ is this: You don’t yet have a clue as to how you’ll make it happen. It’s entirely uncharted territory for you. You know people do this thing—it’s not truly impossible in the sense that it absolutely cannot be done—but you can’t quite wrap your head around how it is you'll do it.

Some of the folks I work with don’t have a Big, “Impossible” Thing; instead, they have a series of Small, “Impossible” Things. A handful of smaller-scale pursuits that are unfamiliar and challenging in their own right. They might fall along a singular trajectory, or they might be scattered. (Some folks call this their ‘Bucket List,’ but that’s a little too end-of-life focused for me!)

Does this resonate? Are you realizing, maybe for the first time, that you’ve got a Big, “Impossible” Thing of your own—one that could use some defining and mapping out? Or perhaps your Bucket List continues to grow while few items are getting crossed off. I can help. Comment below, and we’ll work together to give you clarity and strategy.

You're attacking the WHAT when you need to be looking at the WHY

Though I write quite a bit about time—how we value it, relate to it, spend it, and manage it—the coaching work I do one-on-one with clients is much less about WHAT they’re doing with their time, and much more about WHY they’re having trouble with their time.

Probably sounds like I’m splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction. Let me explain.

Folks who want to achieve something and are struggling to achieve it are typically focused on WHAT’s filling their schedules, WHAT’s standing in the way of their realizing long-held dreams, WHAT time management systems they’ve tried, WHAT time management systems they might still need, etc. They come to me wanting a planner and an enforcer, someone who will tell them WHAT to do, and when; someone who will help them get WHAT they want by helping them to change WHAT they do.

In my experience, the WHAT is a red herring when a client puts it first. Clients see the WHAT as a fixable problem, so they attack it first (with new day planners, new apps, new systems)—because they believe that if they can just make the necessary tweaks in the WHAT realm, everything else will fall into place. My methodology isn’t centered around the WHAT. I mean, sure—that’s definitely part of it, but it’s never the backbone; it’s never the linchpin of our coaching work together.

In my experience, excavating the WHY is the only thing that gets a client closer to what she wants. Even as early as our first conversation together, I help folks to retrain their focus on the WHY: WHY they want to achieve the thing in the first place, WHY they haven’t yet achieved it, WHY they’re choosing other things first, WHY they’re creating a struggle that only looks like a time management issue (but isn’t really one after all).

In every single instance, the WHY goes deeper than the WHAT. And once we understand the root, the core, the heart of the time issue (WHY it’s an issue in the first place), we can examine the WHAT in a more thoughtful and informed way.

If you’re ready to take your eyes off the WHAT for a minute, and to dig into the WHY like never before, email me. You’ll be floored by what we can accomplish together in 90 minutes.

Which came first: the feeling or the action?

As a human and as a coach, I stand for FEELING AS A BYPRODUCT OF ACTION.

So many of us (myself included) have, at one point of another, fooled ourselves into thinking we must feel a certain way before we take action; we’ve made FEELING the prerequisite for DOING.

Since becoming a coach, I’ve come to see and believe that all of us are capable of DOING—regardless of our motivation, readiness, or energy.

I’ll admit there have been times I’ve definitely said (and believed! That’s the trickiest part!) something along the lines of: “I don’t feel motivated to do X,” “I’m not ready to do X,” or “I just don’t have the energy to do X right now.”

Over the years, I’ve recognized this very same tendency in my clients. We've used these beliefs as reasons for why we’re not taking action to achieve the things we say we want to achieve. The yoga practice we want to start, the catering business we want to bring to life, the half-digitized family photo album we envision passing along to the next generation. We’ve become so familiar with these excuses that we don’t question whether or not they hold water.

We’ve accepted them as reasonable beliefs—hell, maybe we’ve even promoted them to facts—for why forward movement in the direction of our dreams isn’t possible right now.

We’ve conditioned ourselves to be more than okay with putting off our deepest desires, our wouldn’t-it-be-awesome-ifs, until some elusive (and not even promised to us) future date.

At which point...what exactly? We believe the stars will align, all systems go, and our dreams will emerge from us effortlessly and unconditionally?

Oy. That sounds like a direct path to having deathbed regrets.

And if there’s one thing my work is in fierce opposition to, it’s deathbed regrets. They’re just not necessary. We’re all too powerful and capable to live our whole lives wishing for more and to die feeling disappointed.

I’m here to help you identify those screwy beliefs that are keeping you static and holding your dreams always at arm’s length.

I’m also here to tell you: Don’t wait for the right feelings to show up before you take your first step; take your first step and then see what feelings show up.

Chronic starters and reluctant finishers: There's still hope for you!

Okay, so you've figured out that you're a chronic starter/reluctant finisher... But what do you do about it? Three ideas:

1. Take a quick inventory of all the pursuits you've started, but never finished. Do they have anything in common? Do they tend to be, say, craft projects? Product ideas for your business? Do you have a habit of beginning to organize a room, but then abandoning it before you're even halfway through? Look for patterns in your unfinished stuff & use your new awareness of those patterns as a guide going forward. (You might decide you're no longer permitting yourself to buy more fabric—at least not until you use what you have to finish what you've started.) Even if the finishing part is difficult for you, you can decide to temporarily quit starting.

2. Marie Kondo's gotten us all to think about what personal belongings spark joy, but what about the unfinished items on our to-do lists? Determine which ones stir up a feeling of dread and which ones still bring you a little thrill—then, LET YOURSELF OFF THE HOOK when it comes to finishing what's no longer serving (or sparking joy for) you. Just because we start something doesn't mean we have to finish it. There are all kinds of reasons why we abandon this stuff; sometimes we're distracted or not fully committed, but other times, we're just not digging it all that much. That's okay. Not everything deserves a piece of our limited time on this earth. Decide once and for all to ditch what isn't doing it for you anymore. (But really DITCH it; donate the materials to your local community center, sell the fabric on eBay, ask your friends if they want all your beading supplies. Set the physical stuff—and yourself—free.

3. Nothing means anything until we assign it meaning. So, stop attaching meaning to the fact that you happen to leave a lot unfinished. It's a tendency of yours, is all—and a value judgment from your inner critic probably isn't the thing that's going to inspire transformation. Get neutral about it, and then we can work on shifting it to a behavior that better serves you.

Am I reading your mind? Awesome. I'm betting I can help you. Leave a comment below (or email me) and we’ll get something on the calendar.

Small Steps, Tip #2

Hey, you—yeah, you. You with the eleventy bajillion things on your to-do list.

I've got news for you: You don't actually have eleventy bajillion things on your to-do list.

You don't even have twenty things on it.

You have ONE. One thing to do first.

And it's your very next step.

That's it—just the very next step; it's the only thing you need to look at, and then take action on, right now.

(Still overwhelmed? Look at that very next step and break it in half. Start there. Once you begin, momentum will support you. Also? I can support you. Leave a comment below and we'll have you moving in no time.)

Small Steps, Tip #1

As anyone who’s coached with me knows, I’m a major fan of taking small steps in the direction of the thing I’m after.

Small steps keep me from getting overwhelmed by the enormity of my goal and how hard it might be to imagine having actually achieved it.

Also? Progress of any amount just feels really damn good, so why not go for the gradual and consistent approach (and give myself regular hits of dopamine)—rather than going full steam ahead and burning out after a couple days?

When I say ‘small steps,’ I mean SMALL. (Kinda funny to use caps on the word ‘small’.) Like, even half-steps—HELL, QUARTER-STEPS!—count.

Examples of totally valid small steps: googling to find out what city form you need to complete in order to become a farmers’ market vendor; choosing a paint color for the bathroom (even if you don’t plan to paint it today, tomorrow, or this weekend); asking your Facebook friends for a dentist recommendation; finding out which buildings on the main drag are vacant and could be home to your someday, one day small business; pulling the luggage down from the hall closet in preparation for packing for next week’s trip.

It’s nothing complicated or overwrought; there’s really no wrong way to take a first step (however small) toward your objective.

What’s a quarter-step you could take today that’ll get you closer to your Thing?

Your fourth and final distinction for making the most of September

To jog your memory: We're using the month of September to bust our mental blocks—you know, those thoughts, belief systems, and inactions that stand between us and our creating the thing we want to create before the end of 2017. If you missed it, here's where I give the full scoop on what we're doing, here's the first distinction, here's the second distinction, and here's the third distinction.

Well, this brings us to the last week of September and our fourth and final distinction of the month:

The Overwhelmed/Strategic Distinction

When you've got a pile of things to do and not much time in which to do them, you have two choices: You can be overwhelmed, or you can be strategic.

If you choose overwhelm (yes, it really is a choice, and you'll see how in just a moment), you're deciding to be defeated completely before you've even begun. You're allowing the list of tasks, projects, and commitments to be larger than life—hell, to take on a life of their own and to overcome your emotional and psychological state.

You're saying, I'm a victim to this list! These to-dos are bigger than me! I'm weak and powerless—so much so that I'm going to surrender right now, before I've even attempted to make sense of this situation I've created for myself!

If this is what you mean to say, then by all means, go lie down and see if the doctor makes house calls. Perhaps you're coming down with something, because the average person isn't usually quite so feeble when it comes to a list of lifeless tasks.

If, on the other hand, you choose strategy, you're deciding to stay in control of the inanimate pile of to-dos by applying a particular plan to them, a thoughtful course of action. You're remaining solution-focused—hell-bent on completing the tasks before you instead of indulging in your emotions about the tasks before you.

You're saying, I brought this list into the world and I can take it out! I'm an owner, not a victim! I have agency here! And a brain in my head! I'm capable of creating effective strategies to deal with any mess, my own included!

To choose strategy over overwhelm is to choose yourself over your fear.

To choose strategy over overwhelm is to bet on your own capability instead of betting against it.

It means using your imagination to conjure a plan for doing what needs to be done, not using it to worry over worst-case scenarios and possible future misery.

It means relying on a plan that keeps your eyes trained on the very next challenge before you...completing it...and only then advancing to the next challenge. It doesn't mean scrambling around, attempting to multi-task as though it's actually possible to give your attention to more than one thing at a time (it isn't).

While overwhelm turns everything into life or death, strategy transforms the situation into a game.

Now, for your challenge:

Where are you choosing overwhelm in your life? (Still don't think you're choosing it? That's probably a good indication you could use a perspective-shifting conversation.) Where are you choosing strategy? This week, your mission is to use what you know about strategy to tackle the mess of things that feel overwhelming to you.

Not sure you know much about strategy? Think again. Ever come up with a travel plan, like a flight or long car ride, that takes advantage of your children's usual nap time? What about that shortcut you use in order to make it to both the bank on one side of town and the dry cleaner on the other, all during your lunch hour? Boom. That's strategy.