It’s one of the criticisms of self-help and even therapy—that the focus is so much on thinking that people continue to stay in a place of processing, and as a result, never take action. It’s actually been shown in research that when people think about doing a thing, they feel a sense of accomplishment almost as if they’d actually done it, so they don’t feel as compelled to actually act!
As for me, I am fascinated with doing. If you know me, or have ever worked with me, you know that action is the mantra. Why? Because having the experience is the greatest elucidator. It’s the thing that reveals the next steps. It’s the thing that both gets you the wins and also the lessons.
And while that sounds easy, in practice, doing something hard or different or scary is much more difficult.
So here’s the deal. Ninety percent of mindset work or changing your circumstances is about awareness. We become aware of times when we want to play the victim. We become aware of times when we are engaging in negative self-talk. We become aware of the self-limiting beliefs we have. We become aware of our self-defeating patterns.
And awareness is always the first step. It’s seeing that you do, indeed, have a say in how you respond to things, and it’s an affirmation that you always have control over your attitude and how you perceive your world.
Great, because once you have awareness that you would like to do something different, you are then open to actually doing it.
This is the last 10%–the actually doing something different. When the rubber meets the road, what do you choose? Do you choose the thing you have always done, or do you choose new?
By the way, often both choices are tough. Neither feel awesome. So don’t expect to ever be completely ready to make a new choice.
But I think it was Tony Robbins who said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
So, ready? Here are some examples of exactly “how.”
The situation: You know you want to quit the all-or-nothing trap with your eating, but you are scared to death to have your “off limits” foods in the house because you know you’re going to overindulge. You don’t trust yourself to have a couple bites and leave it at that. So, how?
What you do: When you are coming off a weekend of overeating, you go to the grocery store and buy something that will tempt you. Then you read this blog, and schedule out your planned “intelligent indulgences” for the week. Instead of doing what you’ve always done, which is try to be super strict or be scared of food, you are going to engage with it. You are going to have some, on Monday. You are going to allow yourself the full experience and not try to control outcomes, and not make assumptions about your abilities or lack of willpower. You are going to do your best. And then at the end of the week, you are going to take inventory. And stay mindful. And then you are going to move on, show yourself some compassion, and try again the following week. And the next week. And the next.
Experience leads to elevation.
The situation: You want to speak up to someone in your life. You feel like you walk on eggshells, or you are scared that speaking your truth will lead them to be mad at you or disappointed in you, or even leave you. But what you are doing by holding your tongue is making you miserable.
What you do: You don’t wait until emotions are running high and you are already in an argument to blurt out the things that have been building. Instead you state clearly that you have a few things on your mind and you’re hoping they can hold space for you while you share them. You set the stage by saying that you have not brought it up sooner because you have been worried you were going to upset them, or that they won’t like it. But you want to be honest and you are ready to handle any consequences. Then, you state your truth as honestly as you can articulate it in that moment, not blaming them, but also coming with the confidence that you are ready to handle any fallout that occurs (abundance mindset). Then, you endure the fallout. They might not understand (that’s okay), they might get mad or sad, they might give you the cold shoulder, they might call you names or shut you out. Okay, fine. It sucks. But you can and will endure the fallout. You will have the full experience. By the way, their response doesn’t mean you are wrong or bad, it just means that they deserve to have their response but you are not responsible for managing it. Allow them the space to have the full response and as a result, you endure whatever happens.
You are stronger and more confident as a result of addressing it, instead of what you might have normally done, like brush it under the rug or use the nail-in-the-coffin phrase, “I don’t want to bring it up because I know what they’ll say.” You might know what they’ll say, but giving them the ability to say it, and the experience itself is the point.
The situation: an opportunity has presented itself to help move you forward in your business, but it costs a lot of money and/or it requires a big jump for your personal life or schedule. You know that in order move the dial, you have to do something different, but you’re terrified.
What you do: What I often see is people who are scared to make the leap but once they do, they questioned why they didn’t do it sooner—leaving a deadend job, starting an online business, investing hundreds or thousands into coaching or mentorship. So part of how you actually do this is to remember, you always have options and you are in charge of your experience. How you do this is by going to worst case scenario in your mind and then asking, what could I do if that happened? What one thing could I do to get back to zero? And when you do this, you see that you always have pivots and workarounds and ways to make ends meet. I doubt you’ll even need them because confidence grows the more action you take, but it’s a productivity system.
Then, when the opportunity presents itself to actually choose a big, scary, bold move, you do it and you trust yourself just enough to figure it out (I promise you, you will) along the way. You don’t choose small and scared and insecure. You choose something different and again, endure the experience. You see that you survived and now you have built a body of evidence that you are pretty badass.
Awareness is awesome. But real change happens when the rubber meets the road. In that 10%, where an actual choice is presented to you—what do you choose?
Do you choose familiar or do you choose new?
When you choose the latter, you earn the right to more.
When I left my marriage two years ago, and drove across country alone to start a new life, there were no awesome choices. Two shitty choices that I had to choose between.
I chose one that was harder, but ultimately better for what I needed and deserved.
And with every mile, I survived. I endured. I put my money where my mouth was.
And as a result of that experience (it’s a big one, we can do this with much smaller ones, too), I earned my confidence and earned the ability to trust myself that much more, assuring that future tough decisions would be easier.