There Is No Such Thing as a Big Decision

There Is No Such Thing as a Big Decision

There is no such thing as a big decision.

There are only little decisions.

And when you allow yourself to believe that something IS a big decision, you instantly psych yourself out, ammiright?

So you have a thought like…

“You know, maybe I want to quit this job….”

“Maybe I want to move…”

“Maybe I should leave this person that I’ve been with for all these years…”

And then you think, “Oh, but it’s such a big decision,” and you frighten yourself into inaction.

All of life is a series of little decisions, and sometimes we make a big deal about the last little decision, but really – that last one is no bigger than all the ones that precede it.

I remember before the first of my marriages (long story) when we were getting our pre-marital counseling from our very hip pastor, and he said,

“Here’s the thing – you two have been deciding to get married since you met. You have been deciding to get married since you first clapped eyes on each other. It’s been a million little steps. A million little yeses. Yes to this first date, and yes to this dinner, and yes to making up after this fight. Now, on the wedding day, we’re going to make a big fuss over this last little yes. Over this last little, ‘I do.’

But remember it is not a big decision. It is the latest in a series of small decisions. And as you stay married, you will continue to make little decisions every single day to stay married or to not.”

And anyone who has been in a long-term relationship will tell you, it’s true. You make decisions every single day to stay together, or to drift apart.

You make little decisions every day about your health, your job, your family, and your relationships, and those decisions shape your future.

If you remember that you only need to make a little decision and then take the next indicated right action, you might decide yourself into a new, better life.

There Is No Such Thing as a Big Decision

Waking Up Wanting: How Doing Little Things Can Produce Great Results

I notice that you wake up pretty much every morning thinking about what you want.

And then you spend the rest of the day talking yourself out of it.

Or psyching yourself out of it.

Or ignoring it, because you need to spend every waking minute doing the things that everyone else needs you to do.

Sometimes you wake up thinking of what you want in a dreaming way….with a fairly gentle feeling of longing.

Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have my own business and not have to get out of bed right now…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to take a trip – to go somewhere special….

Gee, wouldn’t it be great to be able to spend time on this hobby or activity that I love…

Other times, your desire shows up as vicious self-criticism.

Ugh. I can’t believe I haven’t done XYZ yet…

I’m such a failure – I haven’t lost this weight or even started exercising….

I feel like a loser because I haven’t written that book yet…

This early morning self-punishing is a hard way to greet the day, don’t you think?

Other times you just wake up feeling sort of dead and empty.

I don’t even know what would make a difference for me….I’m just so tired of my life….

I’m so sick of going to the same office and saying the same things to the same people over and over again…

Between the needs of my family and the needs of my job, I’m too tired to even know what I want…

And when you repeat this pattern day after day, you wind up with that horrible hamster-wheel feeling.

Because burnout doesn’t come from working hard – it comes from working hard and feeling like it doesn’t make any difference.

So the antidote to burn-out is MEANING.

And a great clue to finding meaning in your life is to look to those things you wake up wanting.

If you look underneath your feeling of dissatisfaction, you may find some interesting questions:

Where is the joy in my life?

Where is the zhuzh? The energy and sparkle?

Where is my power to change things?

These are excellent questions. You may even want to use them as journaling prompts, hm?

Let us take a moment right now to agree that this strategy of “wanting something, then not giving it to yourself all day” is not creating the life that you want.

So let’s think of a new strategy.

We’re going to do this right now.

And here’s our new, easy strategy.

Ready?

1) Pick One Thing You Want to Change

There might be several areas in your life that you want to see changed or a number of things you want to do. Since the purpose of this exercise is to explore this new strategy, I want you to just Pick One.

Pick whichever one bubbles up first for you – big or small.

OK – have you chosen an area of your life you’d like to change?

Great.

Now write that down so you don’t start second-guessing yourself before we’ve even begun.

 

2) Think of One. Simple. Tiny. Easy. Step.

Write down one simple, easy thing you can do today that will help you make the change you wrote down.

Simple = this step isn’t complicated; you probably already know how to do this.

Tiny = this step will take less than 15 minutes and is easily affordable or free.

Easy = you might even enjoy doing this step.

And I don’t care how dumb it seems. Or how much you feel like it’s not going to help. Because we’re just experimenting, right?

See, it’s your ego that wants to make big moves. Your ego wants to make it an all-or-nothing scenario. Your ego wants to make these big sweeping decisions.

I’m here to tell you your life will change thanks to tiny incremental actions.

Maybe your Simple Tiny Easy Action is to spend 15 minutes cruising some job websites – just to see what else is out there. (Can you see how this moves the inner conversation from, “Ugh I should really quit this job but I can’t afford it blah blah blah,” to “I’m going to just do a little check on what else might be out there for me.” Much more manageable, yes?

Or maybe your Simple Tiny Easy Action is to spend 15 minutes dancing in your kitchen, just to feel the pure joy of moving to music.

Maybe you want to spend 15 minutes writing just 200 words of a book.

Maybe you want to spend 15 minutes reaching out to a friend.

Maybe you spend 15 minutes staring at a blank piece of paper. That’s OK. A little time facing white space never hurt a person.

And here’s the wonderful news: if you do your Simple Tiny Easy Action – your whole day will be different.

It’s possible that the whole trajectory of your life will change.

But – for sure – your day will change.

3) Repeat This Process Tomorrow

And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that.

This is how we change our lives.

This is why I wrote the book, “Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Overwhelmed Procrastinators, Frustrated Overachievers and Recovering Perfectionists” (New World Library).

When people looked at my life and asked me, “Wow, how did you go from being a broke actor in Los Angeles who never had two nickels to rub together to being this prosperous business owner, thought leader, and author?” (hair toss, hair toss)

It wasn’t just one thing. It was a lot of simple, tiny, easy decisions. It was a lot of simple, tiny, easy actions in a lot of areas of my life.

And it’s not just me – I’ve helped tens of thousands of clients change their lives with this process, most recently with our breakthrough 90-day program, The Get It Done Lab.

 

Sam’s Get it Done Lab has helped me to blow past some serious creative blocks and fall in love with the process. The process is now lifting me rather than crushing me. – Beth Jaffe

 

I am super excited and happy about the shift that is already occurring in me with the little I have done already and… just the basic shift in attitude…really the most important question regardless…what do I *really* want? That’s what matters. – Jodi Johnson

 

 You can do the same. Starting right now.

Here’s the thing: Every day is precious to us. We do not know when our last day here is.

Do not wait to move forward on having the life that matters to you.

There Is No Such Thing as a Big Decision

Dear Busy Person…

Dear Busy Person –

You don’t need my applause, nor my sympathy – but I want you to know that I see you.

I see how hard you work every.single.dip.dang.day.

You work hard at work.

Which, in a time in which up to 80% of employees report being “disengaged,” is really saying something. (So if it feels like you are one of just 20% of the people who are doing 80% of the work, well, that actually IS what is happening.)

And even when they are constantly moving the goalposts, you still manage to excel. You make sure your team feels appreciated, and I see you protecting them as much as you can.

There’s no such thing as an 8-hour workday anymore either, is there? You work from early to late, and “lunch” is a myth.

Luckily, when you get home, you really get to put your feet up and relax.

JK.

Because there is still the dinner and the laundry and kids and the spouse and the garden and the in-laws and the bills to be paid.

You didn’t know that having a family meant you were now CEO of a million-dollar business, did you?

But it’s true. You are.

Luckily, you get to reward yourself with perks like great vacations, time with friends, and plenty of afternoons devoted to long walks in the park and other soul-restoring activities.

JK.

You spend your vacation time visiting family, which is – and hear me when I say this – NOT A VACATION.

And your time with friends is a quick chat from the car while you are on the way back from dropping the kids off somewhere.

And soul-restoring activities….well, that’s just going to have to be put off, isn’t it?

WAIT.
NOPE.
ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I know you are a crazy-busy, and most of the stuff on your platter cannot be delegated or changed –

but you MUST start making time for yourself.

Even just 15 minutes a day.

You must take time each day to fill your tank, otherwise, you will burn out completely.

(You know this is true.)

Productivity is not about doing more.
Productivity is about doing what matters.

And when you spend even just 15 minutes a day on whatever it is that matters to you, well – the other twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes go a lot more smoothly.

So this is my invitation – my plea –

You matter.
What matters to you matters.

Find 15 minutes today when you can quit putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own and do something that you know will make a difference for YOU.

Because, darling – you are the hero of this story.

And so perhaps I misspoke when I started this – you may not need my applause, but you are definitely getting it.

(insert slow clap that builds to crowds roaring in gratitude and appreciation)

Thank you, our hero.

ahem….I am officially a VERY big deal : )

ahem….I am officially a VERY big deal : )

Image of painted lines on the ground, including the word "zone"

So my friend Greg pings me the other day with a little audio clip of ME being featured on the Stuff You Should Know podcast….

and you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Because I’ve never been on that show.

I mean – SYSK is in the top 15 of ALL podcasts!

So how did it happen?

Turns out that LinkedIn Learning is a sponsor of SYSK, but you know how podcasts love to make their ads sound all chatty? Well, apparently they decided to feature one of my LinkedIn courses called, “Time Management for Busy People” and so the hosts talk about me and how awesome I am for a minute, and then they cut to an audio clip of me from the course, and then they go on to say that LinkedIn Learning is really great and people should check it out.

WOW.

So cool, right?

And here’s what I want you take away from this little story:

There are wheels turning you do not know about.

There are forces for good that are shaping your future right now.

There are opportunities that you never dreamed of (like being featured on one of the world’s most popular podcasts) that are unfolding.

BUT…

Success cannot find you if you keep yourself locked up.

Success cannot find you if you never show your work to anyone.

Success cannot find you if you never talk about what you do, or if you are always self-deprecating.

 

So please – share your creativity with someone today.

You never know what might happen.

Yours,
Sam.

P.S. If you want to hear the clip, just find the Stuff You Should Know podcast on whatever platform you use (Apple, Stitcher, Google, etc) and go to the episode that was posted on Tuesday, July 13, called “Radium Girls.” My bit is about 32 minutes in. Enjoy! – S.

By The Way, You Look Really Great Today

Inner Glass Ceilings- Part 1

Inner Glass Ceilings- Part 1

Image of painted lines on the ground, including the word "zone"

The thing I thought we would talk about today is the inner glass ceilings- The self-limiting behavior that you may not even know that you have. This will be a 2-part blog post because I think this is so important, and I have a lot to say about it.

I did a call earlier this week with my friend, Susan Harrow, who’s a public relations expert and she has a little course about how to get featured in a magazine. I posted about it in this Facebook group. And I thought for sure you guys were going to go crazy for this.

I thought for sure, you’d be like, Oh, I would love to have my product in a magazine. I’d love to have my art in a magazine. I’d love to be quoted in a magazine. I’d love to have my essay featured in a magazine. I’d love to have my book in a magazine. I thought for sure you guys would be all over that, like white on rice.

And it’s not that you weren’t. I mean, people definitely enrolled and the response was good, but it was not as enthusiastic as I had expected it to be. And then I thought about it and I really sort of put on my empathy head, my empathy heart, and kind of tried to feel into what was going on. And I realized it was this.

That really, the idea of being in O magazine was not so much thrilling to a lot of you- it was terrifying. That level of success and visibility felt threatening. It felt like maybe it was something you wouldn’t be able to handle. What if everybody thinks I’m great and then you have to be great all the time.

What if I get overwhelmed? In a lot of ways it felt to me like y’all were just kind of taking yourself out of the game before you even had any information.

Before you even thought, well, I could go to the free thing about how a person gets featured in O magazine… I could do that much research just to see if it’s something I might want. Rather than just saying, Oh, no, no, no, that’s not for me. And I wrote a big post about it. It’s on this Facebook page, about how you were taught to be modest, you were taught to defer, you were taught don’t toot your own horn. Don’t think you’re so big. Don’t get too big for your britches. Who does she think she is?

Tall poppy syndrome, all that you were taught by your family, you were taught that by school, you were taught that by the culture. And even more, this sort of second level: everybody gets that “don’t toot your own horn” message, men and women alike, but then women get an extra little message that says, “let the men go first.”

“Don’t outsmart the boys. Don’t make the boys look bad, stay in the back. Be the power behind the throne. Be the supportive help. Everybody else’s things are more important than your things.” When women get rewarded for it, they don’t get rewarded. Women are expected to help everybody with everybody else’s thing first.

And if they put their own stuff first that’s selfish, right? She got that message. I certainly got that message. Everyone I know got that message. It’s not your fault. It’s no wonder that to suddenly fight back against a hundred years of cultural programming that says, do not seek out the spotlight for yourself, that when somebody says, hey, you could be in a magazine, you could be in the spotlight. You feel like, oh that doesn’t seem like such a good idea. It feels risky. It feels like I might get teased. It feels like I might get punished. It feels like people might not like me. And all those things are true.

I guarantee you, when your work starts to get more popular, there will be people who do not like you for sure. But what you find is that it matters less. When you’ve had five social media friends and one of them doesn’t like you, that’s a big deal, but if you’ve got 50,000 social media friends and 50 of them don’t like you, it’s not that big of a deal.