Most people don’t achieve their goals because they don’t start. What they truly want–takes their breath away—too hard, too big, too overwhelming. A “fear freeze” takes over their body and mind. But not their heart–they continue to feel that tug. Does this sound like you?
I’ve been there too. All the cliches that encourage us not to die with our song still in us or to follow our hearts–didn’t help me a bit at the time. “They” didn’t know MY dream—MY finances—MY life—MY obligations.
For the last 10 years I worked in Corporate America, I had a secret desire of becoming a Life Coach. I didn’t dare tell anyone my dream because it was such a remote possibility—I didn’t want to “make a fool of myself.”
During those years whenever I wistfully thought about a coaching career, an array of fears and excuses would quickly squelch any hope.“I’m not confident enough. I don’t know how to fill in the blank. I don’t have the right skills. I don’t know anything about starting a business? How could I live without a secure paycheck? Where would I find clients? Where would I begin? I’m too old.”
Then I got the proverbial kick in the you-know-where and discovered that my secure paycheck wasn’t so secure after all. Isn’t it amazing how a push like losing your job can give you the motivation to finally go for it. Well, you didn’t have to hit me with a hammer—I went for it.
Whether you’re trying to figure out your next career or have something else that won’t let you alone, here are some lessons I learned along my own journey that could help you.
The hoop. When I was admiring the quilt my neighbor had been hand-sewing for almost 2 years, I asked how she handled such a huge “canvas.” JJ explained that her embroidery hoop not only keeps the fabric firm, but gives her a small area to concentrate on. “I don’t get overwhelmed with how much more I have to do–I just have to do one section at a time.” What a perfect analogy for goal setting.
Got people? You don’t need a huge crowd like Verizon, but having at least one person in your corner who encourages and prods you on is really important. Friends are great—but sometimes they are as intimidated as you are. You need to find someone who can give you courage. I don’t know what I would have done without my 2 coaches—Jackie Cody-Downing (wwww.spiritgems.com) and Lin Screiber (www.revolutionizeretirement). Ok, so that was a shameless plug for coaching—but I personally have experienced the benefits of coaching. It works!
Recliner lift. Let’s face it, we all get comfortable. We are creatures of habit and it’s great that we are because we’d be exhausted thinking about all the minutia in our lives. The problem is that it feels so good to remain in our recliner that it takes a major dose of motivation to get us started. Picture one of those recliner lifts to help people get out of their chairs. Or dynamite—whatever you need to find enough energy to at least figure out if you want to do this.
Shoulds. Our shoulds are alive and well giving us impossible goals to strive for. Before adding to the pile of guilt you no doubt already have, a key question to ask yourself, “Is this something I should do or I want to do?” Here’s a hint – if it keeps coming up, you should take a serious look at it.
Munchies. David Allen, in his book, Getting Things Done, suggests that putting your project on your To Do list is too vague and only keeps us overwhelmed. Instead, list the next step that will help you move forward. Example: Write a book vs write two hours every day.
Fog lights. If you can push yourself to take the first step (see above), the next one becomes more obvious. It’s like driving in a fog where you can’t see much of the road ahead of you, but as you drive a few hundred feet, you can now see that next block.
Concrete sequential. My pastor used this term in one of his sermons. People want the Map Quest directions to get where they are going. “Tell me the specific steps (concrete) I need to take and the exact order (sequential). Oh yeah, and when I will be done.” Sorry, there may be a manual to fix your TV, bu there isn’t one for achieving your dreams. You need to muster up a little bravery, faith and patience to see you through the process (but it’s worth it).
Ready. Set. Panic. So I push myself outside my comfort zone–then it invariably happens—panic sets in. My mind goes blank, all my confidence and creativity go out the window. “How could I possibly think I could do that?” This could last from a few hours to a few days. But once I calm myself down—the answers and ideas do come. It’s happened enough times now that I created an affirmation to silence that noisy gremlin inside my head. “I can do this. The answers will come.”
It’s a new year. What is it you still want to do?
I love this quote from Alan Cohen, ”Thank you, God, for the chance to begin again.” It’s true that we can start again any day, but January 1st seems to be our annual reminder of beginning again. Are you ready to make this year different?