Pic: My determined little girl marching off to Pre-K. Aidan Elaine, August 1996
(Repost from 8/2018)
My Facebook newsfeed is loaded with adorable pictures of little ones heading off to school, teens hitting the high school circuit and parents dropping their “babies” on college campuses. I remember every phase of my kids’ schooling, from new tennies in kindergarten to setting up their dorm rooms. My memories of those times are filled with excitement and a sense that everything is possible.
School is a place to learn, grow and experiment. It’s also where success is spelled out. Good grades, compliant behavior and positive attitude earned rewards from our mom and dad. Kids who did well were celebrated and kids who didn’t were disciplined. School systematically helped us discover what we are best at in a safe and structured environment.
Once our school days came to a close we entered the ambiguous arena of work, where WE defined success whether it involved climbing the corporate ladder or living off the grid while trying to make it as an artist. Most of us exist somewhere in the middle.
At some point, we look at where we are and ask, “Am I successful?” or “What’s next?” or “Am I doing anything close to what I set out to do?” What if our “dreams” look more like a glorified checklist…
Get the kids through college.
Pay off the house.
Win the promotion.
Build the deck.
Think about the last time you made a major pivot in your life. What was the impetus? A bad diagnosis? A job loss? A failed business? A broken relationship? Or was it a vision? An idea? A burning desire?
People change for two primary reasons: PAIN or VISION.
PAIN is the #1 reason people change. It can be self-imposed (my body is breaking down because I eat like a pig and need to cut it out) or from external pressure (my boss is demanding I step up my game and I need more training).
Tony Robbins, says it this way:
Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.
As kids, we had to finish one level before moving to the next. Growth was mandatory. As adults, we can secretly coast through life without anyone knowing. That’s not what I want and I don’t think it’s what you want either.
VISION is also a strong catalyst for change. While it’s much less stressful than waiting until you are backed in a corner, it also requires more initial effort. It’s the proactive counterpart to pain (which is reactive). Vision involves getting ahead of the curve before you are forced to. Vision leads to actions that lead to greater purpose and impact.
However, vision requires imagination and opening your mind to what could be before it exists. It’s not a one-step process; it’s a lifestyle. There are thousands of books on the subject (some nearly 100 years old). There are more TED Talks, mental exercises, workshops and new research on how the brain works out there than I can keep up with.
When it comes to creating vision, the first and most important step is to BELIEVE.
When it comes to moving toward your vision, the most important step is to DO SOMETHING!
I am a proficient dreamer. Been doing it a long time. It’s is great until you look back and realize you’ve been stuck in La La Land. It can be heartbreaking. What does it take to go from dreamer to do-er? Occasionally, when I get stuck, this short motivational speech helps me get moving: Come on Dover!
We all have some level of pain and an idea of what we want. If that’s the case, why are we not doing something about it?
Why? Because it’s not easy, that’s why.
“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
Paul Coelho, The Alchemist
Creating a successful business is a hard road. Trying for a new job can result in disappointment. Forgiving those who have hurt us feels vulnerable. Stepping into a leadership role is risky and may illuminate our weaknesses. It’s not safe when we mess up as adults. There is no grade, and looking foolish is much worse than getting a bad grade.
Also, life happens. Things can derail us. A health crisis, the death of a loved-one, loss of a job – I can think of 100 things that might possibly stop us. Yet, those things pass and when it’s time to get back to it, we’ve lost the nerve.
What is it going to take to rise up and start your thing? Pain or Vision?
This may help loosen the gears and get you going.
STEP 1: Think about a PAIN point in your life or a DREAM you’ve been putting off. Write that down. What would it look like if you were living your best life or in a new and better way? What would it feel like? Write in present tense – make it colorful and real.
Example: I wake up each morning full of energy for the day. I am mentally rested and ready to take on challenges. I get dressed and don’t have to squeeze into my clothes. I look and feel great. I no longer need 6 cups of coffee to get through the morning. I am off to work with a bounce in my step. People notice the difference – my energy is back.
STEP 2: Now write 3 things you commit to in the next two weeks:
- Shop for good food on Sunday.
- Pack lunch Sunday – Wednesday night.
- Put gym bag in the car or have workout clothes available at work.
STEP 3: Think of any obstacles that my hinder you:
- Donut Mondays
- Kid’s schedule may keep me from getting to the gym after work
- I hate my gym – it’s full of skinny people
STEP 4: What can you do to combat those obstacles? Who can you enlist to help?
- Co-workers, spouse, friends, parents – like-minded people.
- Go to gym at off hours, take a different route around the break room, ask for help with carpooling.
The above process should take 30 minutes to write out – you don’t have to write a specific goal. Just define how you want to feel and what it’s going to take to start.
STEP 5: Now, Start!
STEP 6: In two weeks, review the above and repeat or adjust / add more. In two more weeks, review, add, adjust and Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Mel Robbins (no relation to Tony), a motivational speaker and can-do kind of gal, has a 5 second rule. She says, any idea you have must be activated in 5 seconds or you lose the moment. Write it down, make the call, record a message to yourself – whatever will help you go to the next level. She’s been practicing this for years. It’s what moved her from unemployment, a failing marriage and overwhelming anxiety to a successful motivational speaker and broadcaster. Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule She says:
It’s a losing bet to wait until you feel ready. You will never fully feel ready for change.
Momentum creates energy and energy generates momentum. It’s a law of nature.
So, let’s take a cue from those eager boys and girls boarding school buses heading off into the great unknown. Don’t let them have all the fun, we can too.
Need a boost to help you with changes in your business, home or community? Let’s talk. I work with people in all facets of their life encouraging them to grow up, not give up.