Ask any self-help guru and they’ll tell you straight up: getting there is equal parts thinking and doing: thinking, to figure things out and doing, to, well, to do the damned things.
Of course, if it was easy, we’d all be there, right? Happy, graceful and accomplished, speaking five or six languages as we waved to our two perfectly behaved children while playing a mean game of tennis in the same shorts we wore back in high school. Or rather, the same-sized shorts: we’d be so rich, we’d own a few shorts factories.
What usually happens is more like a variation on the spinning-plates scenario, children and waistline going to ruin while we apply proboscis to grindstone, or worse, a Rip Van Winkle approach to change: we fall asleep for 40 years while plate detritus builds up in scary towers around us. It’s not that our intentions aren’t honorable; it’s just that it’s such a pain in the ass, dealing with all those fucking plates. The idea of real change is enough to make anyone run screaming into the night, and isn’t that what falling asleep really is? A really quiet way to run screaming into the night?
I’ve been piling up plates for what feels like forever. There’s always some great plan to help me keep them spinning: an electronic whojamawhatsit, a new system, a new book. None of them work, or at least, they don’t until you close the gap between thinking and doing. And lo, there is the rub that will keep the self-help industry thriving forever.
So how am I closing the gap? Uh…slowly? Painfully? One heinous, long-put-off task at a time.
And for me, there are two things that keep me going.
The first is a dream: me and a laptop and an ocean view. The clearer I get about what I really want to be doing and where I really want to be doing it, the more my precious stuff looks like what it is: a bunch of crap I’m holding onto in lieu of doing the hard work I must to get myself there.
The second is support. I’m a loner and an introvert and kind of a crabapple, besides. I like to do stuff by myself because that way, I get all the credit. There, I’ve said it.
Only the more I really looked at things, the more I realized that nothing I did, not one single thing, did I truly do all by myself. Someone’s always got some kind of damned hand in there, even if it’s not in an immediately obvious, collaborative kind of way.
If that’s true, that I’m not really getting it done all by myself, why not outright ask for support to get there? For…everything? If one of the keys to getting to the next place is acting “as if” one is already there, why not solicit help from people on the other side of the divide, who don’t have to act “as if” because they already are that, exactly? The fittest I have ever been is when I hired a personal trainer to help me get there. The best headshots I have ever taken were when I employed the specific help of my agent as well as many-minds (for a referral) and the photographer (for…well, duh.)
Support can also come from people with a like-minded goal, even if they’re still in the “as if” stage. Alcoholics Anonymous? Built on that. Accountability, accountability, accountability.
This humble slice of the web has been a bit of that for me, and I thank you for it. Toastmasters, similarly, has been a huge help: when people expect you to show up, you show up. Or at least, there’s a better chance you’ll show up.
I’m ramping it up a bit now, with a few accountability partners for getting my shit together and putting it out there. I have a lot of shit, as it turns out, and shoveling shit is no one’s idea of a good time. Neither, for that matter, is putting it out there. It’s about as much fun as not eating ice cream or saying “no” to a trip to Disneyland.
It’s “no” for now, though, so that it can be a resounding “YES!” to other things, that laptop, that ocean view, soon.
Not soon enough, of course. But soon…