I’m the world’s most impatient person. Really. I NEVER leave my Lean Cuisine in the microwave for that extra minute after cooking.
Whenever I am going after a new goal, I expect immediate results. I truly believe that the universe should KNOW when I’ve skipped dessert for two days in a row and reward me with a five-pound weight loss. If I make ten cold calls, I think I should have at least one new client, if not ten. Immediately after a golf lesson, I expect the LPGA to call.
I think many of us are that way. We live in an instant society. We’re so used to instant messaging, microwave ovens, take-it-home-today-for-ten-easy-payments. Don’t even get me started on the Instant Pot. Life moves so fast, you hardly have time to enjoy it. We want what we want, and we want it NOW (so that we can move on to the next thing we want… does anyone else see a vicious cycle here? But I digress.).
I love setting goals and creating new systems and programs to achieve them, but I used to make myself miserable along the way because I could not get it through my head that some things take time. The hard, painful truth is that real, lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. Any course of self-improvement has to, well, you know, take its course. Sometimes you have to trust that the baby steps you are taking are going to get you where you want to go… eventually. But the key is that you have to keep taking steps.
If you’ve set a goal and are frustrated because transformation hasn’t hit yet, I feel your pain, sister. I have been there. From one impatient person to another, here is my fool-proof secret to get you through the ultra-slow boring parts of change so that you can hang in there long enough to reach the rewards.
The (Not-So Secret) Secret to Creating Change
Are you ready for this?
Stop overthinking it. Put SOMETHING out there.
Maybe that sounds too simplistic. But do you know how many people think that making lists counts as real activity? Don’t get me wrong, thinking and planning are all fine and good. You need to create that vision in your head of what you’re working towards. You need to dream about it, journal about it, strategize about it.
But you can’t stop there. To make something happen, you have to stop thinking and start DOING. And then do some more.
Manifestation is a funny thing. I don’t tend to believe in the woo-woo version, that says if you think about something hard enough it will magically appear in front of your eyes. I believe a one-woo version, which is: be clear about what you want, physically put yourself out there in some way, and stay awake. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might find what you’re looking for – or, more often, it will find its way to you.
Do anything besides thinking about your goals. Instead, send an email to someone in your field asking for an interview. Make that scary call. Send a letter. Send a gift. Show up on their doorstep with a bunch of helium balloons. Make a donation. Make a scene. Just DO something!
Can’t I just post something instead?
I’m not big on using social media for this, for a couple of reasons – it’s too safe, and only 6% of your followers will see it anyway. I’m talking about making a ripple in the universe, and it takes more than a Facebook post to do that. I think you need to actually get out there and speak to a human being.
Here’s an example: let’s say you want, with all your heart, to go on a sabbatical to Paris. You’re saving your pennies and you’re learning French (Duolingo, anyone?) and you eat croissants at every opportunity. This is fun, and undoubtedly inspiring, but it’s probably not going to get you to the City of Lights anytime soon.
Let’s say, though, that you go to a French cooking class. You meet some other folks who share an interest in all things French. You exchange numbers with your new friends and decide to get together for un petit café once in a while.
A few weeks later, one of these new friends calls you – she ran into someone who knows someone with an apartment in Paris, who is looking for a housesitter for three months. Viola – you’re packing your bags and thanking your lucky stars for this amazing opportunity.
Was it really luck? Was it magic, or coincidence? I think it’s a combination. The point is, you were taking steps to get there, one way or another. You put yourself out there. If it was magic, it happened because you were ready to take advantage of an opportunity. And it wouldn’t have happened if you had stayed at home watching tv and dreaming about your big “someday” trip. At the very least, doing something is more exciting than just thinking about it.
What if I mess up?
Even making a mistake is better than doing nothing. I know it’s hard to believe, but there are very few mistakes that can’t be fixed down the road. You can change your logo later. Your bangs will grow out. Even tattoos can be erased these days (or made into a lovely, sprawling flowering vine).
If change isn’t coming quickly enough, stop thinking and start doing. Remember Newton’s Law of Motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you make a move, something shifts. Take heart if you don’t see the reaction right away; it’s happening. Just keep pushing. Keep acting. Keep DOING.