In last week’s post, To Hell with Our Emotions, I wrote about the some of the dangerous traps that keep us from doing what we really care about doing. Today, I’d like to offer a simple way to break out of an old habit, especially a habit of Passivity: Pause and reflect, make a decision, and take a tiny step, this week.
First, take just a minute to reflect by breathing a medium-deep breath before you ask each of these questions to yourself, out loud if you can:
- Who needs my love this week?
- Is there something around me I can make a little better?
- What would help me feel healthier?
- Is my money in my control?
Does one of these questions carry more of an emotional charge than the others? If so, focus on just the one, and picture the situation that needs to change and the role you might play in that situation: helper, observer, doer, organizer, leader, skeptic, caretaker… Ask, If I could be my best, what would be my role? Don’t over-think the answer, just gauge how you feel. The hotter the feeling, the more this role needs your attention.
The famous Taoist saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”† is inspiring. (Isn’t it?) It reminds me that even our heroes, who seem to achieve on a scale way beyond most humans, started somewhere and probably failed a lot. It also reminds me that I am where I am, and at some point I made the decisions that got me here. I can make more decisions, and they will get me somewhere else.
Given, we are where we are now, consider your role again, and ask this:
What is one little thing I can do this week to feel good about my role?
Your answer is your goal. Is it something you will definitely do… this week? If not, make it tiny: What is the very next thing you would need to do, the very next tiny thing?
I’ll give you my example: As a Stoker, to feel healthier, I need to take care of my feet. (They hurt.) This week I want to replace the wrong-sized padded inserts for the shoes I want to wear when I perform on Thursday. The next tiny step is to make a paper cutout that will be the right size. This is my goal this week.
When you haven’t paid enough attention to a certain role, it’s important that you have a goal you know you will do. The reward of focusing on a goal you can achieve is future motivation, so make it a small step you know you will take. Maybe the tiniest thing you can do is write it down, and then say it out loud. That’s a pretty good step. If you need encouragement, go tell someone else who will give it to you. Tell us! Write it in the comments section below, and you’ll get encouragement.
Now, put your goal in your calendar. Make it an appointment and clear everything else during that time so you can actually do it, even if it only takes five minutes.
Remember, a plan is just a decision; it’s just a reminder of what’s important to you. Don’t make a big deal of it. Now that you made your decision, do it! Next week you get to make another plan.
†Lao Tzu is the Chinese philosopher attributed as the father of Taoism. Some suggest that his words would be more accurately translated as, “Even the longest journey must begin where you stand.” Taoism emphasizes removing ego-centric intention from your actions; instead, listen and observe, understand the Flow of life (the Tao), and know the advantage of taking no action. Consider this question: What can you not do this week that will help heal you and the world around you?