Last week I introduced the concept of Getting Ready to Get Ready (GRTGR) and outlined a little introspection process to help us move from GRTGR into action. I also called myself out on two of my favorite GRTGR activities:
Learning – I want to start a blog, but I’m scared so I shop for a book on blogging instead. I want to write, but I’m scared so I sign up for another writing class instead.
Planning – I want to start a business so I buy a business planner, read the intro and never follow through on yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily plans that I crafted so very lovingly. But, I decorate the hell out of that planner! It’s freakin’ gorgeous.
Did you think about your favorite GRTGR activities? How can you tell when you’ve slipped from actually Getting Ready (valuable learning and planning) into GRTGR (avoidant learning and planning)? This is all about knowing ourselves, calling ourselves out on our avoidance tactics, and coaching our way through GRTGR into action.
I also talked about the main reason we turn to GRTGR: because we are standing on the edge of our comfort zone and we want to step over the line because we’ve seen a vision off something really cool and enticing out there, but to get to that enticing nifty thing we have to venture into the dark forest that exists just beyond the border of comfiness. And the dark forest is, well, dark. And dark = scary. And we’re not sure we can navigate through it or that we’ll survive the journey because…monsters! And battling monsters is for heroes and rock stars. Not us. Not me. Nope. No sir. Thank you very much. I’m just not ready for that. I don’t have a flashlight. I don’t have batteries for the flashlight I don’t have. And I need to buy lots of flashlights and batteries and try out all the different combinations of flashlight to battery effectiveness. And, now I can’t remember why I started collecting all these flashlights and batteries in the first place, And, oh yeah, shiny nifty thing over there. But…darkness and monsters!
If that sounds like every story, fairy tale, thriller, horror story, adventure, or romance ever written – it’s because it is EXACTLY the same as all those stories. The only difference is, in those stories, there’s a heroine who for whatever reason has been forced or chosen to venture into the dark forest.
I LOVE reading these stories. Because I get to go on an adventure AND stay all cozy and comfy on my sofa at the same time. It’s a win win!
Except when it isn’t.
I think I need more coffee – brb.
Here’s the deal, in those stories, the heroine who kicks monster butt is scared too. She’s not sure she can make it to the other side of the forest either. (In the stories I love to read, they don’t even have flashlights they have torches or a jar full of talking fireflies.) And yet, she ventures forth and she grows, she learns, she finds the magic within – on her way through the forest.
The difference between me (when I’m in GRTGR mode) and the heroine, is that she doesn’t wait for the strength, knowledge, or the magic to show up before she begins. She steps into the unknown and figures the rest out on the way. And that’s what makes the story fun!
Let’s look at the elements of the story and write our own so we can be the heroines of our own adventure:
Call to Action
What is calling your forward?
What prize do you want to win?
What magic are you seeking?
How do you imagine finding ____________ (prize, magic, love) will change your life?
The Dark Between Here and There
What are you afraid of?
What beliefs do you have about the things that live in the dark?
What beliefs do you have about yourself that keep you fearful?
What do you need to believe to take the next step?
Trials, Challenge, and Conflict
What do you need to learn?
What will it take to get you to believe in yourself?
What strengths do you have that will help you through?
Who are the guides and teachers in your life, who will lend you their strength and wisdom until it becomes your own?
What are you willing to let go of?
What are you willing to do that you’ve never done before?
The Boss Battle
How will you know when you’ve won?
The Elixir, the Prize, the Love
Imagine your happy ending.
What’s the same?
What have you lost?
What have you won?
Happy ending! – every ending is a new beginning so …
What’s your next adventure?
I hope you have fun with this. I’m putting together some worksheets with these questions and the questions from last week so you can play with them some more. I love worksheets!
Are you ready for this?
Getting ready to get ready is a very specific brand of procrastination. I don’t want to label it as simple procrastination because I don’t think Captain Obvious hollering at us to stop procrastinating! is helpful. I think learning to recognize when we’re stuck in Getting Ready to Get Ready mode and unpacking the reasons behind our hesitation can actually be an informative and helpful process. When we recognize what we are doing and why, our hearts can open wider to our purpose and provide us with clarity and perspective about our desire.
More specifically, I think Getting Ready to Get Ready can be defined as preparation and good intentions to get ready that have turned into stalling.
How about a metaphor or an analogy – your dream, your purpose, your goal is the lead character in a musical and it’s standing center stage in the spotlight singing the power ballad to end all power ballads and suddenly, the spotlight (aka your focus) moves off the stage and starts wandering around backstage shining it’s light on the props, the costumes, the set pieces, the stage manager, the printer of the programs, the advertising, the logo, and anything else it can find backstage, in the rehearsal room, or at the bar across the street – anything other than center stage.. Because center stage is scary.
All those things backstage and in the rehearsal studio (maybe not in the bar) are important and necessary, but the problem is that your dream/purpose/goal is onstage in the dark waiting to sing and nobody, not even you, can see it.
The moral of the story: you can only rehearse for so long. Supportive side-projects are probably somebody else’s job. Eventually, you have to step into the spotlight on the stage and sing your heart out so the people sitting in the seats waiting for you to show up can hear your music.
What’s going on here? We have a case of the nerves, mixed in with an unhealthy dose of perfectionism, spiced with fear, and sprinkled with either a lack of confidence or a lack of clarity. (Yes, I’m sitting in a coffee shop while I’m writing this.)
The truth is we are ready enough. The props are good enough. The printer can handle the programs and it’s time for us to make our entrance. If we’re waiting for our confidence to show up in full-force, we’ll be waiting forever. Taking another class, buying another notebook, redesigning our websites, brainstorming names for our Etsy shop, DIYing the hell out of our logos and stationery and business cards, getting multiple degrees, organizing our paints and paintbrushes, looking for the perfect pen, and so on and so forth.
That was a partial list of my favorite Getting Ready to Get Ready activities. What activities would you put on your Getting Ready to Get Ready list?
Waiting for confidence is boring and this busy-work (running around backstage doing ALL THE THINGS over and over again) is safe and distracting. We can put off doing the scary thing AND no one can tell us we’re being lazy because look at all these terribly important things we’re doing. What we are doing, in essence, is staying busy doing all the things except the one thing we truly long to do/be/have. We’re dancing around our dreams, but, “Hey! Look at us we’re dancing as fast as we can!”
The good news is, when we notice ourselves Getting Ready to Get Ready, we can acknowledge that we’re standing at the threshold of our comfort zone and know that it’s the next step that will put us over the edge into the land of expansion and possibility.
Here are some steps to help us take the leap:
Recognize what is going on.
What was your original intent?
Get curious & identify the emotional reason for stalling.
Name the desire behind the fear.
Visualize and explore how you would feel if that desire were fulfilled. Stay with the emotion of fulfillment. Journey with it. Soak it in and roll around in it.
Ask yourself: what can I do right now?
Set a deadline.
Check it off your list and keep on keepin’ on.
And, when you feel yourself stalling again, go back to your visualization and live in it for awhile until you get so excited and jazzed about it that you can’t wait to get on the stage and hit that high note. This is an example of using your imagination for your own good.
Rinse and repeat.
We can be our own best friends, call ourselves in our well-intentioned bullshit, and coach ourselves through it.
So that’s the intro to this month’s theme. I’ll be back later in December with some more stories, worksheets, resources, and other goodies to help us all step into our spotlight. If you have any questions or comments about Getting Ready to Get Ready, please leave them below or drop me a line.
We have arrived at Action!
And here’s what I want to say about action: It’s required.
Without action, all of the other stuff that I wrote about in the first three posts in this series is just dreaminess and wishing.
One of my favorite acting teachers used to say, “Do the doing truthfully and for a purpose.” Acting is all about action. That’s why it’s called acting. Watching people simply emote and whine for two hours is the worst! The actors who are committed to the action of the character, to the purpose-drive-goal of the character, the ones who commit fully to the behavior and let the emotion take care of itself – those are the actors who take our breath away. They’re the ones we believe.
Translation – we will believe in ourselves and believe it’s possible to live a purposeful life when we commit to the action of our purpose. We have to do the doing. But, instead of jumping into to do lists and five-year plans with quarterly breakdowns, I want to explore a different kind of process for connecting with purpose-full action.
The Lovers: Doing & Being
I’ve heard this so many times I don’t know who actually said it the first time – “we are human beings, not human doings.” Purposeful action is not about busy-ness. In fact taking action on our purpose very often requires that we let go of things. We’re used to taking action in our comfort zones. They can keep us very busy. And I’ve learned the hard way over the past 3 – 10 – 25 years that I can stay distracted from my purpose by getting downright crazy-busy inside my comfort zone. And, here’s the kicker, this often happens when I am feeling the call to expand my comfort zone. Sometimes, when I am feeling the urge to move into unknown territory, my comfort zone actually shrinks! I retreat and hide and don’t want to come out, but I do want to come out and play, but I’m afraid, and I feel safe in here, and I don’t know what’s going on out there, but I want to find out, but I’m scared so I get really really really busy…but what I truly want to do in my heart of hearts is go outside, cross the boundary, and BREATHE.
The trick is taking one step at a time. The other trick is doing the doing that will move us towards our purpose. Purposeful action is very different from being busy. How do we know what the next step is?
We Can Be Our Own Teachers
We don’t want to throw a lot of external action on top of all the things we’re already doing. As I said before, we may even have to let go. What I’m exploring is working from the inside out. Instead of mapping a bunch of stuff out – which I LOVE to do. I have a planner addiction. But, instead of drafting quarterly goals and checking boxes, I’ve been sitting and thinking and trusting and allowing. And letting the still small voice make the action plan. And, since I’ve been doing that, I’ve been writing more, sharing more, and learning more.
I’ll be honest this a personal tug of war. One day, I’ll sit in meditation and I’ll listen and I’ll receive guidance. And I’m so grateful for this. It’s a wonderful thing.
And, zing! I’m off.
But, then I’ll forget. And I start pushing and trying to do it all by myself with sheer will and grit and I get desperate and I look for help everywhere and I’ll try to do All The Things and I’ll get confused and frustrated. And, finally, I’ll remember, “Oh, yeah. Sit down and be still and listen.” I’m learning that I don’t have to do this all by myself. I have an internal support system waiting for me to sit my ass down and breathe. Mindfulness practice has changed my life in so many ways over the past two years, but I’m still not used to it. I forget and go back to my old ways.
So I’m practicing. All the time. Life is practice.
This is the process. I call it embodiment. Embodiment means spending time with the woman you want to be. Let her/you teach you what the next step is. Let her help you figure it out. Going back to pull theory from Mark Forster’s How to Make Your Dreams Come True, a clear vision of your future-self living with purpose and feeling fulfilled will lead you to the next step and pull you forward. And by clear, I mean sensory and embodied.
So this future-self, the woman I want to be, who is she? How does she feel when she’s sipping a cup of coffee or tea in the morning and thinking about her day? What does she see? How does her body feel? How does she feel in her body? What does her normal average day look like? What does she want to do next?
For me, this visioning practice has been much more fruitful than traditional goal setting. I think that’s because it’s a process of working from the inside out.
Go inside and spend time with the woman you want to be. Listen for the next step – this is working from the inside out. Then you take the next step – which is working from the outside in – and the landscape is altered just a bit. From this new place, pause and listen for the next step – working from the inside out … and so on and so forth. Just like breathing.
This means we have to trust ourselves. Because this future self who’s enjoying a lovely romance with her purpose has probably done some things that we’re afraid to do. I mean, holy hell, what if she’s into public speaking!?!
So we have to trust. If she is into public speaking and public speaking terrifies us, I bet she didn’t go to sleep one night terrified of public speaking and wake up the next morning completely unafraid having mastered the art of telling a good story in front of thousands of people. So what was her first step? Trust that and just take that first step. That’s all. This will move us one step down the hallway where we can ask her what she did next.
We will probably never be fearless, but we can learn to trust ourselves and believe in ourselves by taking one step at a time. Just one.
So what do you think? Are you willing to give it a shot? Maybe a 30-day experiment?
There’s a lot to be said about this. And I have plans for exploring the connection between love and purpose lots more on this blog, but for now, I just want to say that the guidance received from the visioning process always comes from a place of love. The still small voice and the voice of our future self – the woman we want to become – is loving. If we hear, “You just have to get off your fat lazy ass and get a freakin’ life!”, shut her down. That’s ego. That’s old programming. And, most importantly, it’s not helpful.
I heard Sharon Salzberg give a talk and she named that critical berating voice Lucy. It’s a wonderful talk which I can’t seem to find again to share the link with you. But, I will keep looking and hopefully be able to share it with you. BTW – Sharon Salzberg is kinda brilliant. (Understatement!)
And there we are. We’ve wrapped up the series. Are you still awake? Still reading? Have questions? Have ideas to share? Please reach out and post a comment. I’d love to engage in some cool conversations with maverick mid-life women who are exploring their own path.
I’m on vacation! Hoo-rah! I’m in Traverse City, MI staring at East Grand Traverse Bay from the balcony of our condo. It’s 6:00 AM and everyone else is asleep. It’s a little chilly. I’m drinking coffee that’s gritty with grounds because I’ve lost the ability to actually brew coffee without a one-cup-coffee-pod brewing system. But coffee is essential so I’m drinking it anyway. The lake is still and looks luminous, like a sheet of glass reflecting the sunrise.
And that’s why I’m two days late getting this blog post written and posted so here we go…
We’re talking about Declaration and Commitment. (Eeeeek! Another c-word.) Last week I wrote about Choice and Experiment. I guess it stands to reason that if choice is difficult then commitment may be a psychological conundrum as well. So let’s dive in, shall we?
Choice is the most difficult step for me. I always want to choose everything which means I end up choosing nothing. The thing that upsets me about making a choice is that by saying ‘Yes’ to one thing, we have to say ‘No’ to other things. I tried to do it all for a long long time and just ended up wearing myself out.
This is how I ended up in the principal’s office at the start of every semester during high school. I wanted to be on the dance team, the yearbook staff, the creative arts magazine staff, the speech team, the Latin Club and I wanted to audition for every show. This meant I had to get the principal’s permission to take an extra class during my lunch hour. Which meant I had to to get a teacher’s permission to eat lunch in their classroom and I had to promise to keep my grades in passing range. I started class at zero hour – the class before classes started – and ended each day after rehearsal around 9:30 PM or later depending on the show. I traveled to all the football and basketball games and the speech tournaments on the weekends. I didn’t know if I was coming or going, but all of it was important to me. Frankly, I don’t remember a lot of it.
I was going to title this From Desire to Done, but I don’t believe purpose can ever be ‘done’. This is semantics, I know. But words are powerful. Also, I used up well over 1000 words covering only the first two sections of what I wanted to share, so this will be a multi-part post with the second installment coming next week.
My goal is to share the map I’ve traveled – that I’m still traveling – to get from Numb-ville to the Land of Purpose and I’m plotting all the points I’ve discovered from here to there:
- Waking Up
- Dissatisfaction & Desire
- Choice & Experiment
- Action & Repetition
Each of these topics may actually be repeat performers especially if this becomes, as I hope it will, less of a monologue and more of a dialogue between us. I sort of shared the Waking Up part of the journey in my first post. So let’s start with Parts 2 and 3 for today.