What I Need to Know is My Next Step, Not All 47 Steps


…and needing to know all of the steps keeps me from taking the next step.  Isn’t that silly?

What I’m Doing

No matter what the project or goal is, procrastination, wasting time, pretending to be busy or pretending to be confused, and getting caught up in absurd analysis are all incredibly effective ways to keep from moving forward.  Or moving any direction.  Not getting anywhere, just growing mold right where I’m at.  It would be great to create some movement – any movement– even if it’s wrong, bad or counter-productive.  But, alas, I keep myself stuck.

I have been unintentionally refusing to take action of any kind because I don’t know exactly how to get all of the way to the end target.  The concept that evades me is quite simple:  I just need to know the next step, not every step.  I don’t take the next step because I am too busy throwing a tantrum about not knowing all of the steps.  Okay, this might be a bit melodramatic, because it’s not like I haven’t accomplished anything.  I just haven’t accomplished anywhere near what I think I should have been able to accomplish by now.  Sound familiar?

What Might Be Better

I would rather let go of all of the mental gymnastics, let go of trying to figure out things impossible for me to know at this moment, and just joyfully go about doing what I do know to do.  I know some things that I can do, yet I don’t do them because I’m thinking about everything I don’t know.  And maybe there’s another part.  I also don’t do what I know to do because it might be wrong.  Oh, no.  Not that!

How Am I Going to Do It

I could clobber myself over the head and try to beat myself into submission, using the power of the white knuckle and clenched jaw to overcome my resistance.  But not only is that incredibly ineffective, it’s no fun and just downright mean.  There’s a better way.

Rather than staying focused on how I’ve missed the boat and anguish over all the time I’ve wasted, I choose to learn from my mistakes and take a different approach.  I shall employ the tools of Awareness, Attention and Focus and do so with Structure, Discipline and Consistency.  I will intentionally engage in effective practices to get clarity and overcome inertia, get started and then build momentum.  It’s how I’ve been thinking about the project that keeps me from moving forward, and the only way to correct that is to choose a different set of thoughts:  design a structured way of thinking that creates the right internal environment that naturally propels me into actually wanting to move forward, feeling like I can, and having clarity to know what to do, what steps to take.  Working to get into a feeling of “want to do it” is way different than dragging myself by the hair to do it.

In Summary

Here are the steps to shifting my patterns of thought:

  1. Get really clear about what I want to accomplish and why I want to accomplish it. Having a weak, vague notion of what, exactly, the project is and the reasons for doing it has no juice.  It’s limp and will fizzle out long before the final steps.
  2. Determine what stands between me and success, if anything. If there is something, fix it, remove it, reframe it, whatever.  Just remove it as an obstacle.
  3. Make a plan. This plan does not look like this:  Step one, start.  Step two, finish.  Break it down into clear, actionable, I-can-do-that steps.  Put these steps on the calendar.  If the discrete steps are not planned out and scheduled on the calendar, they will not get done.  I have been proving that.
  4. Show up every single day and make progress. Set a timer and do not get out of the chair or chase shiny objects until the timer goes off.  Repeat as necessary.
  5. This is not really Step 5, it is really something to be doing throughout the project, from beginning to end. Really, it is something to be doing through your life, from beginning to end.  Manage your thought life.  Notice when you are thinking thoughts that result in a disempowered, de-energized emotional state.  And then clean that schtuff up.
  6. Complete the project and celebrate like you mean it.

That’s it.  My new approach.  I will have to return to this plan over and over and over, as I develop new habits of thought around this particular project and life in general, and that’s okay.

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