Category Archives: goals

Making Progress

There’s a pattern I see in myself and in a lot of my clients.

We want something. That something is big, and involves change and usually a hell of a lot of work to make it happen.

We have limited time and energy. And pre-existing commitments that are either unchangeable (like caring for young children) or not immediately changeable (like needing to pay bills with a day job).

Add it all up and it starts to feel like the Thing you want is so big that it can never happen.

I get it. Believe me, I get it.

But here is the key to getting from where you are now to where you want to be:

Microsteps + Commitment = Progress

Lemme ‘splain.

First, the Microsteps

Every big thing that you want is made of steps. The big steps can always be broken down into smaller steps.

And the smaller steps can be broken down into microsteps.

Remember in my video, how I said that the thing we want sometimes feels like a wall? Well, when we’re staring at a wall it’s easy to miss the fact that the wall was built from bricks or stones or sticks.

We have to choose to stop and find the microsteps. Even when a part of us is freaking out, or feeling resentful that it’s so damned hard.

Most important of all is Commitment

How many times have you known what you wanted to do, and maybe you even knew exactly what the next steps were, but life got in the way?

Next thing you know, two or three months have gone by and you haven’t done any work on [insert that thing you want here].

I doubt I’m alone in trying to take an all-or-nothing approach. I’m constantly catching myself looking for unrealistically large blocks of time so I can work on something from start to finish.

Maybe it comes down to the desire for instant gratification, but somehow, spending only a small amount of time feels pointless. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s painful. Like we’re just teasing ourselves by drawing out the process to an excruciating time-frame.

And yet.

What if the only way to get what you want is to work at it a little bit at a time?

If that were the only way, would you scrap it completely?

What if working at it a little bit at a time would create a snowball effect, but you can’t see that from where you are right now?

What if the simple act of truly committing would allow the Universe to conspire on your behalf?

Would that be enough for you to commit to experimenting with commitment?

How to make progress, in 4 (easy?) steps

1. Figure out a reasonable amount of time per week you can commit to working on your Thing. (Hint: if you don’t know what your Thing is, then you can commit to Thing-Finding.)

2. Schedule the time on your calendar. Treat it like an appointment with a hard-to-see specialist (i.e., don’t reschedule unless it’s an emergency).

3. When it’s time for your appointment, work on your Thing. Do a microstep (or several).

4. Keep making (and keeping) those appointments.

How to make this technique work

Start with a small time commitment, because in the beginning, fulfilling the commitment is more important than making progress.

A good place to start is one hour per week, putting it on your calendar for at least three weeks in a row. But if that’s too much, commit to an amount of time that works for you.

If, when the time comes, you’re not “in the mood” to work on your Thing, do not give yourself a pass. You must use the time for something related to your Thing. Writing about why you don’t feel like working on it is a completely legitimate (and productive) use of that time.

Treat this as an experiment. Pay attention to how it feels to make the commitment, fulfill the commitment, and take microsteps. Notice how it feels to have a regular date with the thing you want to do.

I’m betting that as you make even little bits of progress, it’ll be easier to keep the appointments. Soon you’ll probably be willing to increase your weekly commitment.

Care to join me?

Just to prove that I can walk my talk, I’m doing this, too.

I’m committing to one hour per week, for the next three weeks, to work through the Right-Brain Business Plan. Thursdays at 5pm Pacific, to be precise.

(I can’t begin to express how much Stuff this is bringing up for me, but that’s a post for another day.)

I know it’s not enough to finish, but I need to start somewhere. I need to feel what it feels like to make progress on this thing.

Are you up for the challenge? In the comments let me know:

– How much time will you commit to?
– What will you work on?
– What would help make the Microsteps and/or the Commitment easier?

Let’s do this thing!

Here Comes 2009

The end of another year.

2008 was not easy, but there was lots of good change – I feel like I ushered some stagnation out of my life.

But now that a new year is about to happen, so many people are talking about New Year’s Resolutions.

Am I the only one who hates them? Let’s discuss…

They take me out of the present moment.

The end of the year is when people reflect on what resolutions they accomplished (or didn’t). So that means I’m looking BACK. And if I didn’t meet the goal, I’m also looking AHEAD to try to figure out if I can make it happen next time around.

I am not arguing that this is 100% bad for 100% of people. But I will say that those well-acquainted with me know it’s probably the worst thing for ME to do. I need to get better at just being, not worrying about what is coming or already gone.

I need to get better at being okay right where I am. You know, enjoying the ride instead of worrying so much about reaching the destination.

And I’m willing to bet a lot of money that I am not alone in that.

It’s all too easy to make resolutions based on Shoulds instead of things *I* really want.

I look back on past years’ resolutions and I’ve definitely made the cliché ones like

  • Get in shape
  • Eat right
  • Get organized
  • Stop biting my nails

Do I want those things? Well, yes. But do I really really want them?

I think most people only do what they really truly want to do. So if I’ve not been able to accomplish those goals after years of making those resolutions, what does that say?

I’m also discovering that some of my so-called desires are more like decoys. In other words, as I begin to accomplish something that I truly want, some of the other things I thought were important to me become less so.

I’m starting to write more, and suddenly I’m willing to give up de-cluttering the house if it means I have more time to write.

They create an artificial deadline of 365 days.

This goes right back to that Creative Process thing…just as projects will be born when they’re ready, I think the same holds true for the resolutions we make because most of them are just another type of project.

So what AM I going to do during this transition from 2008 to 2009?

Well, I tend to be torn between acknowledging the New Year as an opportunity to “start fresh” and completely blowing it off.

You know, just treat it like any other day.

One thing I could use more of in my life, though, is gratitude, so I’ll be taking the opportunity to be grateful for 2008.

And maybe I’ll pat myself on the back a bit for some things I’ve accomplished.

Yes, I’ll probably spend a little time thinking about projects I want to work on in the coming months. But I’ll be trying to do that in a light, pressure-free, kind of way.

Unless, of course, Dec 31st turns out to be a really crappy day, in which case I will just drink more champagne.