Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Do It!

Yep... I'm 'borrowing' a slogan made famous by Nike but...  with good intent and purpose.  Nike's 'Just Do It!' slogan is over 20 years old and still going strong.  Its longevity and appeal is largely due to the strength of those three words in conjuring up (for Nike) images of lacing on your runners, jumping on a bike, picking up your racket.  In short, those three words, when placed together, become a call to Action.  And for Nike, action is their business.

For each of us though, those magical three little words also have power.  Used together they speak of Attitude and Action.  It's a determination to go out and make things happen.  When coaching, I often run into clients that are 'stuck' in a cycle of inaction.  They don't have clarity over knowing exactly what they want to be, do or have in their lives and they therefore feel directionless.  'Without a direction or goal, how can I move forward?' one client questioned me.

Yes, most self-improvement books and guides are going to counsel you to uncover your passion, define your life goal and then go for it.  However, sometimes we struggle with trying to feel 'passionate' about anything.  The biggest feelings we have are depression over NOT having a goal and fear that we might never discover something we are passionate about.  These feelings can become overwhelming, leading to a cycle of inaction.  The belief that we are all meant to do 'one' thing with our lives can be a huge barrier to forward momentum if you can't seem to uncover what the heck it is!

Some people are lucky enough to just seem to know what they were meant to do with their lives.  Often they are clear about this from an early age.  For most of us though (me included!) much of our lives have been a journey of self-discovery.  Each new awareness has uncovered a greater understanding of our skills, abilities and interests, in turn opening new doors to us.  I could never have envisioned running my own business when I was 20... I didn't have the confidence or skills to do it back then.  My lack of belief in my abilities would never have allowed me to 'dream' that big.  However, other actions and wins opened me to the possibility, such that I now successfully own and operate two full-time businesses and am actually considering a third! 

Additionally, each of my existing businesses is in a completely different field.  I find that I never seem to have just one interest... I always have multiples, and am constantly uncovering new ones!  Could I have been more successful, by other people's standards, had I stayed with 'one'?  Perhaps.  Would I have been having as much fun?  No way!  My path is perhaps different from some, but the route will be similar to the one many need to take.

If you know you want 'different' in your life but you are unable to articulate the end goal then don't despair.  It will reveal itself to you, but in its own time.  Instead of sitting back and getting depressed waiting for 'it' to happen though, you need to take steps toward finding and uncovering it.  You know that doing nothing is not likely to create or drive the change you want.  In essence then, any action is better than no action.  This is where Nike comes in.  Just Do It!  Do something!  Even if it is the wrong thing, it has gotten you off of the couch, shifted you out of feeling stuck and into feeling like you have control.  That small step - in any direction - at least drove some kind of change.

When Edison was trying to discover the lightbulb, he had over 2,000 failed experiments before determining that Tungsten was the element needed.  When asked to comment about his failures, Edison said that he hadn't experienced any failures, he had simply crossed off 2,000 options on his way to determining the correct one.  The learning is in the doing.  Trying something, even if it is not the 'right' thing, can give you information you lack now that will help lead you toward your 'right' thing.  Often we need the life-lessons we get through experimentation, through trial-and-error, that better prepare us for ultimate success.

The Work:

  • So...  get out your pad of paper. 
  • Write down, very clearly, what your particular dilemma or roadblock is.  
  • What are your options?
  • Which one of the the options are you feeling a stronger leaning toward?  We're not concerned about whether we'd label it 'passion' or not.  Rather, which option has a slightly greater appeal to you right now, in this moment.  Define why.
  • You probably have a host of reasons as to 'why' you can't or aren't already following this path.  I don't want a list of them.  They are irrelevant.  Instead, I want you to create a list of actions that you 'can' do to move this option forward.  However small, it goes on your list.  These actions may not be the biggest or best way to make this goal happen, but they are actions and they will help you to test the waters.  If your inaction has been driven by an inability to commit fully to a particular direction, then simply create some smaller action steps.  What steps could you take that enable you to move forward along this path without having to commit all of your resources to its achievement?  Do one.  Do another.
  • Assess the results of these action steps.  How are you feeling?  Are you feeling a little more excited and invested in this option?  Then keep the momentum going and do more!  Are you finding that you are discovering that this was perhaps not the right path for you to take?  Then go back and assess your other options.  Are there others you would now add? (often taking some steps in one direction help us to learn more and to uncover options we wouldn't have known about otherwise)  Once you've expanded your options (if need be) determine which option you are now feeling stronger about and begin the process again. 
I liken this process to 'dating'.  You wouldn't marry someone you have never dated, why feel you have to commit to an idea you have never explored or checked out?  In essence then, the idea is for you to 'date' an idea for a while, check it out, to decide if it is right for you.  The key is to remember that nothing in your life will be different if you don't do something different.  In the end, action of some kind will get you out of your rut.  In the immortal words of Nike...  Just Do It!

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