Get committed to your goal and only THEN think through the HOW
Have you ever had a chat with yourself that goes something like this:
“I really should not put this off any longer, I’ve got to bring that up with my manager… but it makes me feel sick just thinking about it. She is so busy & distracted right now… how on earth do I even bring it up? I’ll feel rushed and it will come out all wrong and then she for sure she’ll get angry and find a way to twist it and I will look weak and have lost my opportunity. Oh forget it, this wasn’t a great idea anyway. It would never have worked.”
The details of the scenario may change. But what will stay the same is this : You want something new. It may be something you haven't tried before, it may be something you have tried and failed at, it may be something you don't really believe is possible. But the very act of wanting it makes you anxious because you don’t know how to make it happen. And so your old limiting belief kicks in.
Whatever angle your old belief works on you – worry about loss of credibility, relationships or achievement - will flavour the specifics of the self chat you have. But the start and the end result of the chat with ourselves are the same:
You want something new and that creates a gap between where you are and where you want to be. And in that gap is tension. Let's call it what it is : creative tension. The place where creativity can happen. That creative tension of holding the gap, holding both your vision and the reality of your current circumstances is intense. And as such it is prime territory for your old belief to be triggered as you start to worry about how. And that tension is hard to be with. The easiest way to resolve it … is to let go of your vision.
Imagine a rubber band stretched between your thumb (your current reality) and your forefinger (your vision for what you want). Stretch it. Feel the gap. The gap between what you have now and what you want to have. What does the rubber band want to do? It wants to contract, doesn’t it? It wants to stop being stretched.
Have you experienced this? Think about something you wanted to make happen... but let go of. It doesn't have to be a big thing. A difficult conversation, pitching an idea, expressing yourself in some honest way. Or maybe it was a big thing, a purchase or a trip or a course or a job ... you name it. You wanted it but then talked yourself out of it. If you look at it, can you see how your old belief had a hand in the letting go of it? Even helped justify you giving up on it?
And now think of something you dared to want … that DID happen. And remember in the process how you felt about it. I bet you felt really strongly about it. You really wanted it, perhaps you could see it happening in your imagination, perhaps you were connected to what that in turn would do for you and/or the people you care about. What do you remember about what that felt like~ both emotionally and physically, to feel that kind of commitment?
For having that wholehearted commitment is key. And then actively managing the fear when it rattles our cage ~ those are the two most important things to do to make sure our vision gets realized.
As I look back on my life so far, I am surprised that I have lots of examples of taking action without having it all figured out. Like postponing university to do volunteer work in the developing world or moving to a new city without a home or job lined up. I also see now that opportunities show up for me to practice this in smaller daily ways all the time.
Like the other day, I wanted to go for a paddle but had no friends available to go with. The water temperature is still extremely cold so the ideal is to not go out alone because of the increased risks that brings with a capsize. But I wanted to paddle. And as soon as I started to think about going out on my own, my mind started to see me falling out of my boat at the dock when trying to exit my boat. I have a history with this dock, you see. It's a high dock making it a bit tricky to navigate your way onto it from a floating kayak and frankly it psyches me out. I have done this exit dozens of times alone. But I have also failed a few times and in the colder months when the stakes of falling into the icy waters are higher, I get scared and normally get help from a buddy.
So... fears of falling in alone and then not being able to get out and dying of hypothermia or embarrasment started to crowd out the idea of going for a paddle…why bother, I thought, I can paddle another day and have so much other work to do. The feeling of wanting to paddle started to fade. These fears and justifications had actually been enough in the past to stop me. But this time, I caught myself and talked myself through it. I focused on the feeling of a sunny breezy paddle and of being alone with my thoughts thinking some things through and the rythm and strength of moving the paddle through the water....and how good all of that would feel. I kept seeing myself successfully and gracefully exiting my boat onto the dock and remembering how easy and effortless that feels. And I kept reminding myself that I could trust myself to get through any situation and an instructor's voice from the past reminding me that the water isn’t molten lava afterall, its just water. And how much more productive I would be if I honored this desire in me to get out on the water today.
And so I went. And the conditions were awesome, the sun, the breeze and lots of wildlife. Then a few times, out of the blue during the afternoon, I felt my stomach clench and my mind start to goto worst case scenarios back at the dock at the end of the paddle. So I consciously had to regain the joy of the moment by re-commiting to my vision and how that felt. And then I would remember the few specific things to do to get out of my boat and up successfully.
When I got back to the dock, there were actually several people around who I could have asked to help stabilize my boat... but I kept committed and breathing … and there I was on dry land, happy.
So the steps broken down are:
1. COMMIT: You decide WHAT you want and see it alive and already happening in your minds eye. FEEL through what that will be like to experience & WHY that is important to you. And move on it!
2. MANAGE YOUR FEAR : Actively replace the old fear-based assumption with your positive empowering truth as many times as required!
3. And ONLY THEN start to think through how to make it happen. Only when you are 100% committed to it – not 85% or 90% but all in - only then do you break it down backwards from the end results into milestones, strategies or logistics (whatever system you like best for executing)
The amazing bonus is that if we hold the space for that creative tension through our commitment and acting from our new belief, and not let it collapse, then synergy, coincidences, even magic happens. I am sure you have experienced this too...things just 'come together', they 'fall into place', we come up with even better solutions. At the very least, if we are clear on what we want and why, then how it happens can actually feel easier (like people on the dock available to help).
So what will you try this with? What are you wanting that scares you?