Are you looking at what is left of 2019 and wondering how to achieve your dreams and goals for the year? Or perhaps you simply shrugged your shoulders, giving up, and thinking you will try again next year. Allow me to interject here and suggest that you start where you stand right now.
Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are. (Theodore Roosevelt)
Good things take time:
I remember as a young lawyer being introduced to a gentleman, already in his fifties, recently appointed as an Honorary Consul. He spoke two or three languages. Additionally, his experience included working in Germany, the US and New Zealand, complemented by various specialisations.
At 27, that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. If only I recognised then, what I clearly see now, looking back in hindsight with 20/20 vision.
Over the course of the next fifteen years, I finished my second law degree and two Master’s Degrees. While I’d already completed my first law degree in English (Common Law), I was busy studying at that time: my second law degree in Spanish (Civil Law). I went on to finish a Master’s Degree in International Business Law (LL.M.). And I followed this up with an M.Sc. in International Business.
So, while I didn’t become licensed to practice in three countries, I was well on the way to those achievements.
One small step at a time.
In this same way, there is no reason why you cannot make your life and situation different. Stop waiting for things to happen for you! Choose that one small step that will take you in the right direction.
Start where you stand: forget “if only”
You inner critic judges and criticises your life choices at every opportunity. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, it’s easy to find flaws: if only you had made different choices!
After you get over the anger, no doubt you experience the denial, regrets, rationalisation and excuses that your mind invents.
- Well, I wasn’t ready.
- What I didn’t have at the time was…
But every journey, no matter what journey it might be, begins with one step towards your dreams, with one decision, one different choice. Are you ready to do what you can with all you have?
“Do not wait; the time will never be “just right”. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” (George Herbert)
Take the first step: what do you want?
If you are not sure what you want, there’s not much point in moving somewhere else – is there?
So, before you start from where you are, get clear on where you want to go. What do you want and need? Be ready to do an inventory of where you are at – being real, stripping it back to what you would really have to achieve to get from where you are right now to where you want to be.
This is hard work. Take responsibility: “This is where I am at“. Own your choices from this moment forward. While it may not be entirely your responsibility for you being where you are today, you have full responsibility and choice about how you respond.
Stop waiting for “when it’s all perfect” so that you can start creating what you want in spite of where you are at. Believe me, it’s never going to be perfect. There is always going to be a reason, if you choose to believe it, why now is not a good time to start.
- Maybe you want to build a better relationship with your spouse or child.
- Perhaps you are looking to change jobs or careers.
- It may be that you are beginning to look at your retirement options.
- Or simply you want to change your living situation.
Are you willing to take that first step from where you really are at, towards what you want?
Resources & Assets:
Once you have the clarity on what you want, it’s time to start gathering information about the resources that you have and what you will need. Make sure that your inventory takes into account all of your abilities and talents, your experience and learnings, your material resources, as well as asking yourself:
- Who do I know that can help me?
- What do I need to learn, and who might teach me?
- Do I need a mentor or a coach? Who might that be?
- What skills will I need to learn for this?
- Where might I get more experience?
- How much money will this cost, and where will I get this income from?
Consider whether or not you need a role model: who do you know (personally or know of) that has already achieved this?
Make sure, as well, when you are looking at your skills and your experience, that you understand how everything that you have done so far in life might have taught you more than you can imagine.
Don’t discount your skills
I want to provide you with two examples of this:
What could you possibly learn in McDonald’s?
My very first job, while I was still in school, was working at McDonald’s. I was useless on the grill, loved just doing the fries during the rush period, and did okay as a cashier. As you can imagine, I totally discounted this job as being a valid work experience until many years later, when I began to appreciate two important skills that I learned:
- “Would you like fries with that?” – the power of always upselling. This was drummed into us – and if you’ve seen any memes about McDonald’s work – it probably includes this phrase. But at 15, I was taught to always go for selling one more item that hadn’t been requested.
- Facing the client we had offers. But facing the cashier, was another sign, which said something along the lines of “The client is always right – they may be misinformed, impatient, awkward, fussy, indecisive...” And then we had a number of suggestions about how to deal with difficult customers. Because often the customer is actually wrong! But it was all about how we handled the customer, making sure that we handled them well. Being able to handle a difficult customer well is a skill that can be learnt, and I cut my teeth on this quite young!
Learning to ask hard questions
Later on in life, as a lawyer, I learnt to ask difficult questions. And when I was transitioning from working as a lawyer into coaching, I admit to feeling that I didn’t have all the years of experience and education to back me up. Nonetheless, when I realised that I had spent twenty years talking to people at times of difficulty and transition in their lives – in a different setting than coaching – I realised I had many more resources than I was giving myself credit for.
So, when you are busy doing the inventory of your resources, experience and assets, make sure that you take into account what you really know and have experience in!
What time do you have available?
One of the biggest challenges you might face is the resource of time. Here, I want to suggest that you do an inventory of where you are currently investing your time.
If you are not sure what time you have available, why not have a look at the reality of how you are investing and spending your time? Because you might find you have more time available than you realised.
Mapping out a plan:
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. (unknown)
Let go of the need for perfection, but consider the realistic possibilities of how long will it take you to get from where you are to where you want to be?
- What do you need to learn?
- Who do you need to become internally?
- What do you need to release?
- How will your priorities and use of your time have to change?
I was recently coaching a client, and they realised that it would take them about six years to build the life that they were dreaming of! But because this client is willing to start where he stands, he has clarity on what he needs to do to bring all the changes about.
If you need a degree or studies – how long will they take? If you need more work experience, how many years of experience? When you recognise that you need to build up a nest-egg for this project, how long will you need to save this amount?
Don’t be afraid of setting a goal that will take you time to achieve! Then sit down and make a plan.
Start where you stand – stop waiting, begin!
One of the biggest reasons we fail is that we stay in the planning stage. We fail to execute.
Stop waiting and overplanning, and start doing!
It’s very easy to overload with too much information and then shut down. But take care: you could be caught doing nothing!
Once you start, things will change. In physics, they say that for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. Don’t be surprised if you receive a recoil or push back, even from those who love and support you.
Whatever change you decide to instigate in your life will create another imbalance somewhere else. Perhaps it will result in you spending less time with someone, or no longer being available as often as you have been in the past. You might find that your friendships and family relationships change as you start to execute your plans.
Are you willing to have some real conversations?
The moment that you start to shift and change your circumstances, things will begin to get real. And you may risk finding out the state of your relationships.
Be willing to adjust your course:
They say that when an aeroplane is in flight, it is off course over 90% of the time! So, while they know where they left from, and they know their destination, because they are constantly adjusting for winds, storms and other climate factors, the pilots are constantly adjusting the course.
Knowing your goal and having a plan is a lot like this – you will find that there are obstacles and challenges that you might not have anticipated in your “flight plan”. Once you are already “airborne”, you will have to make adjustments to the plan.
This might show up as resources that you hadn’t realised that you would need, or extra steps that you never imagined would be needed on the way. It’s up to you to make the corrections in the plan, but that doesn’t have to change the destination!
Adjust your plans, without having to let go of your dream or goal.
Just remember, it doesn’t have to be “perfect” in order to be great.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. (Arthur Ashe)
Make today the day you start where you stand
Take a moment to consider where you might be if you had started twelve months ago, at the beginning of this year, on the 1st of July. How much closer would you be to achieving what you want?
If you start today, from where you stand at this moment, you will be on your way to creating what you want. While you should keep it simple and realistic (so that you don’t give up), don’t be afraid to allow your goals and dreams to stretch you!
Make it great and excellent, but not impossible!
You have no idea who will you have to become in order to achieve it – and that in itself could well be worth it!