We all have our list of grievances:
Too much on your plate at work, a boss that doesn’t acknowledge your efforts, and maybe you would be happy if only you had time to take guitar lessons…
Your boss has their own list too:
Why does no one step up to the plate, we’ll never grow at this rate, and if only Johnny would concentrate on work instead of dreaming about guitars…
The commonality for both of you is that you are living into a future that you know will happen. Beyond what you hope or dream that the future will look like, at a gut level you think you know what will happen, and it guides your actions in the present. It is formed by your opinions, assumptions, and lessons learned from past experiences.
I give so much time and energy to work, I’ll never play guitar…
My employees will never care as much as I do, my company is doomed…
You try to create change within this context, and all that you will create is that very future.
Think about something that is important to you that you keep putting off. Why? What’s standing in your way? Waiting for the right time? Until you’ve saved enough money? After you take a little break? Now think about the future in that area if you continue doing what you’re doing about it right now. Be real with yourself. That’s your probable, almost certain future in that area. And “someday” is a toxic human illusion. If you don’t change your course of action in that area, you’re facing dying with it looking exactly like it does right now.
I know that’s harsh, but I’ve come to realize that the only person I’m letting down with that kind of self-talk is myself. I’ll wake up in the morning with the intention of going to the gym after work, then as soon as I get home to change I’ll convince myself that I deserve to relax and eat ice cream instead. But it doesn’t feel good – it actually feels awful. And what this article is meant to do is to help you step outside of a breakdown like that and turn it into a breakthrough.
The first key is to honor your word. When you make a commitment to yourself, follow through. Once you’ve mastered that, extend it to others. No more making flaky plans to “meet up sometime”. Put it in your calendar or say no.
Create a new possibility for the future. If what you’re doing isn’t working, what would it look like to have it work? The new possibility I created around going to the gym was the possibility of commitment to my health.
Take action. When you’re anxious about something or feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to identify one action you could take that would bring you closer to that possibility. Even if going to the gym isn’t in the cards, I can do squats at home or eat an apple instead of a candy bar. I can also choose to go to the gym in the morning and then honor my word. Taking one action in the direction of possibility pulls you out of a breakdown, and puts you immediately into a breakthrough towards taking action on your goal.
For larger projects, follow the same logic but involve your community.
Create accountability. It’s really scary to share your goals and dreams with people, because if you do, they are going to hold you accountable. They’re going to follow up and ask you how it’s going – but that is a powerful tool that you should be using to your advantage. Once you put it out there, there is so much more incentive and support to follow through. I posted on Instagram that I was going to start a blog before I had even written a word. Now my friends and family are eager to read what I’ve written, and I have a community of people who are supporting me.
Plan your work, work your plan. At the beginning of every week I write down the actions I am going to take on my project. That can mean researching a blog topic, reading a few chapters of a book, or setting up a meeting – that “project” can change week to week and can be big or small. At the end of every week I identify the results I produced and which actions I actually took. Then I write new actions for the following week. When you write it down for yourself, you get a clear vision on what needs to be done, and you give yourself your word that you will do it.
Acknowledge yourself and your community. At my friend’s weekly all-staff meetings, her colleagues go around the table and every person acknowledges someone. Imagine the self-talk in that company and the future that they are living into.
When you change the way you talk about the future, you literally rewrite it. The future that you know in your gut transforms into the possibility that you say it is. Now the actions that you take are consistent with inspiration, proactivity, and innovation. That is how you get results, and that is how you author your own life.
The first steps to achieving your goals begins with just a click!
Further reading \ The Three Laws of Performance
30 Day Goal Tracker \ Download
Weekly Action/Results Tracker \ Download