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.
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.