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.

Waking Up Wanting: How Doing Little Things Is the Antidote to Burnout

Waking Up Wanting: How Doing Little Things Is the Antidote to Burnout

If you’re like me, 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 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 gentle feeling of longing.

Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have my own business and not have to launch out of bed right now and start hustling for someone else…

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.


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?


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.

Your Overthinking is Absolutely Killing You (and what to do about it)

Your Overthinking is Absolutely Killing You (and what to do about it)

You have an idea that seems interesting. You might even be tempted to take action on it. But then you immediately start to reconsider. Is it actually a good idea, or just an average idea, or worst of all, a terrible idea? You begin to imagine the outcomes of acting on this idea, and all the permutations of all the outcomes. You start to envision the disappointment of having made a poor decision, and suddenly it seems much better to not do anything at all.

This is how great ideas die.

This is how Highly Creative People stay stuck.

One of the characteristics of the Highly Creative Person is a real gift for nuance and subtlety. If you are an HCP, you love intricacy, multiplicity and process, and are somewhat more likely than most to use the word “liminal” in conversation.

You read micro-expressions.
You consider your words carefully.

You notice connections between things before others have noticed anything at all.

Here’s the problem: you overcomplicate every.damn.thing.

You may have noticed yourself overthinking yourself into inaction.
You may have discovered that you overwork for no reason or reward.
You may be habitually overwrought.

And all this “over-” is exhausting for you and for the people around you.

On the other hand, you don’t want to dumb yourself down.

So what’s a twisty little brainiac like you to do?

TRY THIS: First thought, best thought.

Why this works: your processing speed is a bit faster than everyone else’s, so the thought that feels like it just popped into your consciousness has actually undergone a fairly elaborate, if invisible, process of evolution. You may not know how you know – but you know. You process information, intuition and patterns quickly, and then you are able to make connections between disparate bits of information with supersonic speed. You can trust that your body and brain have, in fact, “thought” about it for you, and have delivered a sound outcome.

If nothing else, moving forward from your first thought puts you into experimentation mode, which will lead you to new thoughts and new outcomes. Which is waaaaay better than just sitting there spinning your wheels, yes?

TRY THIS: Put it in Beta

Rather than think of every idea as a full commitment or a final decision, think of yourself as putting your ideas into beta testing. (Beta testing is the stage of software development when the creators think they’ve got something that might work, and even though it’s not near done yet, they invite users to start testing and giving feedback. So the users know they are mucking around with something that’s not complete, and enjoy the process of poking holes, finding bugs and discovering weaknesses that the designers may never have even considered.)

Beta-testing your ideas allows you to experiment with the deliberately imperfect.

To put your ideas into beta, think of the smallest, easiest component that you can put into action the quickest.

Have an idea for a class? Why not invite 3 people to coffee to talk it over?
Have an idea for a book? Go ahead and start by writing a few sentences on one index card every day for a week.
Have an idea for a new business or marketing scheme? Why not put up a teaser post on social media to gauge initial reactions?

TRY THIS: Ask someone you adore.

We all have a few smart friends whose opinion we take seriously. Why not cash in some of those Friendship Points and ask them for five minutes of their time. You can’t do this non-stop, of course, but it’s amazing how having to explain your idea to someone you respect can clarify your thinking, and how much insight a smart person can bring in just a few minutes. Be sure to offer to return the favor, of course.

TRY THIS: Google it.

I am astonished by the number of people who confide an idea to me when they haven’t spent even five minutes looking into it. Do yourself a favor and Google your idea to do a quick check on whether it’s been done before, and by whom. This is what is known as research, and it is an important part of the development of an idea.

Just because something’s been done before is no reason not to do it – quite the contrary. If someone has already proved the market for an idea, that’s excellent news. Mostly you want to know if an idea has been tried so you can learn from their mistakes and figure out how your idea is better, different, cheaper, or more interesting.

TRY THIS: Try it.

Spend 15 minutes every day for a week (a month, a year) noodling around on your idea. Let it see sunlight. See if it goes anywhere. See if you wake up thinking about it (usually a good sign) or if you don’t want to stop working on it (always a good sign). It’s fine if you play with an idea for a while and then decide it’s not worthwhile, or not the right time. At least you’ll have gotten your hands dirty and learned something.

You have some amazing ideas to offer the world – but you’ve got to stop torturing them inside of your mind and start letting them see the light of day, yes?

Want to know more about the Highly Creative Person? Take this quiz here and let me know what you think.


oh snap (or, slightly freaking out, part two)

oh snap (or, slightly freaking out, part two)

OK, so I don’t want to get all woo on y’all, but since I wrote you last week about how shy I was feeling about putting myself front and center, the following things have happened to me:

  • got nominated for the prestigious Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award
  • booked a fun speaking gig for the Professional Photographers of America
  • am being profiled for a feature in Carpinteria Magazine (a small town magazine with a BIG impact because of all the tourists and celebrities who come through here : )
  • got an article I wrote accepted by The Good Men Project (1.8 million page views/month)
  • looks like the musical I wrote has a *very* bright future – stay tuned!

Now…I am not saying that proximity equals causation.

Most of the things on the list above have been in the works for some time now.

But it’s amazing how they all hit on the same week my new site went public, isn’t it?

Here’s what I know for sure:

When You Do Things, Things Happen.

Sounds laughably simple, I know.

You take an action and there’s a ripple effect. You post a photo of your new jewelry design on Instagram and suddenly someone wants to buy 30 of them. You give a talk to a room of 12 people, and afterwards, three of them want to talk to you about working with you privately. You publish a little ebook and you get offered a monthly column in an important periodical.

You’ve seen this ripple effect a grillion times, right?

But what about when you DO NOT take action?

What about when you procrastinate?
When you dither?
When you let your fear and perfectionism hold you back?

Same thing:

When You Don’t Do Things, Things Happen.

But not good things.

When you don’t show your work, you get even more nervous about showing it.
When you don’t give a talk, you become the best-kept secret in town, and your revenue drops.
When you don’t publish your ebook, all the people that you could be helping are left stranded.

And the cumulative effect of breaking your promises to yourself over and over again causes your self-esteem to wither, and your self-confidence to plummet.

(The Shame Spiral….it would make a pretty hilarious ride at a theme park, don’t you think? Floating heads chanting, “you’re not good enough!” and “who do you think you are?” as you caroom down a slippery circling slide…deeper and deeper…and then maybe at the end you get spit out on to a therapist’s office couch….#heeheehee)

Anyway –


And it’s time for it to stop.

Spend 15 minutes *right now* on the project that matters most to you.

Need a Little Push? Get the Procrastination Domination Starter Kit

Your Creative Year

Happy New Year! 

Welcome to the fresh and shiny possibilities. 

Oh… wait. “It’s not January 1st?”

That’s ok. Your New Year…

Your Creative Year…

Your Successful Year…

Can begin any day. Even today. 



PS: And if it IS January 1st (or there ’bouts), all the better. Click the video image below to begin “Your Creative Year.” 

“Thank you so much for your bright mind, right on information, and your acute knowledge about the artist.” – L., Montreal, Canada

“This has been the best way to start the year for this procrastinator!” -S., El Paso, TX

“These questions have helped me see that I am here to inspire and light the path for others, that I don’t need to “save” them. It takes so much responsibility and self-sacrifice off my shoulders and makes the path and process lighter! Thank you.” – L., Los Angeles CA

“Wow, Sam — these questions are amazing – I never thought to ask a lot of them and this has the potential to really help me find out what I want – Thank you!” – T.B., South Africa

If you enjoyed this workshop,

may I recommend my flagship program for creatives who want to…

When is it too Late?

That person who expressed interest in your work, but you never followed up with them…and now you think that too much time has passed, so you don’t reach out to them.

The friend who was having a tough time, and you wanted to call or write, but you got busy and now it feels weird.

The thank you note you didn’t send.

The invitation you never made.

The opportunity that passed you by.

It’s a TERRIBLE feeling, isn’t it?

Guess what?

It feels terrible because it’s FALSE.

It’s not too late.

It’s never too late.

As long as you have breath in your body, it is never, ever, ever too late.

If you are still thinking about it, then the possiblity is still alive.
The fact that it is still on your mind means that it is NOT TOO LATE.

But there is a challenge here:

You are going to have to change.

You are going to have to sacrifice

– your perfectionism
– your embarrassment
– your discomfort
– your misplaced pride
– your big idea that you know how long something is supposed to take

and GIVE IN to the DESIRE you have to take action.

It’s time to put on your Big Girl Panties.

And I know — you think about reaching out to that person, or pursuing that opportunity, and you cringe.

It feels scary.

But trust me: you would not still be thinking about it if it weren’t the right thing.

And who knows? Maybe NOW is an even better time than before!

Maybe now is the perfect time.

So here….to make it easier for you, I’ll give you a little script to use:

“Hello X,

I find myself still thinking about you and XYZ today, so I wanted to follow my intuition and reach out.

If it feels right, I’d love to connect. Are you available to talk on DAY at SPECIFIC TIME or OTHER DAY, OTHER TIME?

If not, no worries – but I’d be remiss if I didn’t even ask.

I hope this finds you well.


Take a chance.
Turn that regret into action.
Open yourself up to some new information.

Let me know how it goes, OK?