As a Coach, I’m most often working with clients on getting unstuck. As a person, I get stuck too. Recently I made headway on something important to me. It was a visceral reminder of the steps that we can take to make progress on even the most difficult changes.
All my life, I’ve wanted to write fiction. As a child, stories had flowed from my hand. Then, for a myriad of reasons (some material, most unconscious) I gave it up. The desire never went away. Over the years, whenever I reflected on my purpose (and the time I wrote my own obituary, a technique advised by Stephen Covey) the word “author” was always there. Still, I couldn’t find a way to break my non-writing habit.
Do you have something you feel passionate about, but have been dodging? Is there a core intention – a way in which you want to change your personality or your job or your life – that feels out of reach?
In retrospect, I can see what happened, and it wasn’t magic.
- I made a small serious commitment. Although I’d been saying for years I was going to write, something else always intruded. It wasn’t until I signed up for a course that it began. I committed my hard-earned money, and even more, a few hours a week.
- I made-do with what I had. Several times I’d tried to create an ideal writing space. A place I could find the muse. Then I read that Stephen King wrote in his laundry room for years. I cleared a space of distractions and made it work..
- I spoke about it to others. I had to tell people in my life what I was doing, and why I wasn’t around. Most never knew about this hobby of mine, and all were supportive of my pursuit. They could see me in way I couldn’t see myself.
- I got positive feedback. Part of the course was to share our work with others in the class. This was terrifying for me, as it is for most new writers. Luckily, our instructor made sure we were giving positive critiques, and not just criticism. What really helped was seeing what I was doing right. I was afraid of writing poorly (I did that too) but seeing the possibility of reaching my goal was very motivating.
- I made a more serious commitment. Soon after those first steps, I plunged into a larger commitment, requiring more of my attention and energy. I stopped reading fiction that wasn’t in my genre. I read instead of bingeing on Netflix or social media. I bought textbooks on writing.
- I called myself differently. I began to refer to myself as a “writer” instead of saying, “I want to write fiction.”
These small steps, taken in sequence, ignited a slow burn. They look familiar to me. A similar sequence helped move me off the couch to become a runner. I believe they will work for many personal changes, habits to leave behind (like smoking) or habits to take up (like regular exercise). Start with a small commitment today.