When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
– Paulo Coelho
Have you ever had great ideas that never get done? Do you get inspired and excited one day, and then return to your same old routines the next, without taking action on the ideas that got you so fired up? Ever wonder why?
At conferences and gatherings of like-minded people, it’s easy to get everyone inspired about something new. As an exhibitor, it was always a simple task for me to get potential customers excited about a new service. However, I used to complain that their ‘enthusiasm’ didn’t seem to survive the trip home. I was frustrated when they failed to take follow-up action once they were back at work. Last year, I wrote a post about it, How to Maximize the Benefits of Any Conference.
A month after the post was published; I was invited to speak about turning conference inspirations into action. The very thing I had just written about! To introduce myself, I shared a simple process that I use to make big transformations in my life. I showed the audience how I applied The Process to athletics, to business, to family life, to spiritual life, and even to my love life! Then I led the workshop, showing how they could apply the same process to turn conference inspirations into action upon returning home.
The Process has led to some big transformations in my life… and taken me on a wild ride — working ten different jobs, living in more than ten houses in seven states, owning four businesses, moving cross-country four times, marrying, raising two children, divorcing, marrying again, and raising two more children. Although I never ended up exactly where I expected, each transformation has enriched my life beyond measure. Each step in The Process has helped me become more than I was before. Each step also revealed new opportunities, many of which I was not able to see before I took that particular step. That’s how life is. It’s constantly changing and so are we.
I seem to have a creative ability to see what everyone else sees, but have different thoughts about what I observe, and notice unique trends. When I looked back over the eight big transformations of my life, I noticed a pattern that was consistent with each one. The pattern was this: Three key questions and three “powers” drove the transformational process I’ve been using to create the life of my dreams. Before getting to the three questions though, it’s important to understand the powerful force striving to hold our lives in place, just where they are.
Having big ideas that never come to fruition stops you from living your absolute best life. And it’s a very common problem. It’s the problem when a person begins a gym membership after New Year’s but then stops going by February. It’s the problem when a great idea from a conference doesn’t survive the trip home. It’s the problem when your resolution to see a good friend every month gets postponed until it drifts back into years… Perhaps it seems like you just got too busy, or something else got in the way, or you didn’t have the time, energy or budget to fulfill your idea after all. But guess what? There’s a secret problem hiding behind all the ‘reasons’ why big ideas don’t come to fruition.
The real problem is… gravity! The forces of procrastination, self-doubt, worry, cultural expectations, even family and friends, can hold your life in place, like gravity. If they are more powerful than the forces you’re using to change your life, your big ideas never get done.
Let’s say a notepad resting on a table represents your life as it currently is. The notepad will not move because the force of gravity is holding it in place. It will stay there forever unless a force greater than gravity pushes or pulls it in a different direction. So, suddenly a big idea comes along. For example, you witness an act of kindness, reminding you of your lifelong goal to start a charitable foundation. That idea contains energy. It’s a force. But it’s only a weak one, like a light breeze.
Gravity responds to this new force, and gravity is more powerful. Gravity says, “How are you going to start a foundation? You don’t have the money, the time, or the talent.” And so your idea stalls and your life doesn’t move forward.
When I was speaking about turning conference inspirations into action I felt different, in an amazing way, than during any other speaking engagement of my career. I could feel inspiration striking me like a lightning bolt. My daughter was there and she felt it, too. Walking back to the hotel, she said, “Dad, Turning Inspiration Into Action is your book!”
When an idea strikes me, I use filters to say YES to opportunities and inspirations that are in alignment with my heart, and I quickly say NO to everything else. I call these filters My 7 Wonders. They are the most important things to me. They are:
- My One True Love
The speaking engagement touched me deeply. The idea of writing a book that could help others begin a journey to their best life touched me deeper still. It moved me. I felt it. And that gave it power!
Around the same time I saw a super cool seaplane land on the lake in front of our property. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to own a seaplane?!” While the seaplane was super cool, and seemed appealing, it was not a fit for any of my filters. It was not a match for what I truly cared about. I could not feel it in my heart. So I let it go.
Doing the Work
On my way home from the speaking engagement, I called a friend to ask a favor. Then she asked what I was doing in Austin. I told her about my workshop, how excited I was about it, and how my daughter said that it should be the subject of my first book. She replied, “You should do that at our conference.”
Once I began working on my idea with that first blog post, it began to take on a life of it’s own, leading to a speaking engagement, then a book and then another speaking engagement. Was it serendipity? Was it coincidence? I don’t know what it should be called but I do know that doing the work taps into a real power.
The Three Questions
I believe a better self is always possible today, every day, for the rest of my time on this planet. It’s through transforming the person I am that I create the changes I want in my life. The Process I use to create my absolute best life is based on these three simple questions… WHAT inspires me? WHY is it important to me? HOW will I bring it into my life?
Before we delve further into the three questions, it’s important to have an understanding of a concept called Kaizen. Kaizen is the Japanese idea that small, incremental improvements will add up over time to yield big results. As a personal practice, it means that there is always something you can do better tomorrow than you did today. Kaizen greases your willingness to say YES and try new things. It keeps you moving forward. Every single day. You may choose to work on a craft, or a physical skill, or a spiritual practice. You could be expanding your capacity for kindness, or becoming a better listener, or tolerating others more graciously. Kaizen can be applied to anything that you want to do better.
So now it’s time to ask the first question, WHAT inspires you? Where do you want to go? What would you do if you knew you would not fail? You’re brainstorming with your life. Don’t filter things out, yet. Do not ignore something that may appear ‘far-fetched’ or ‘crazy’ or ‘unrealistic.’ Just notice WHAT attracts your attention. You’re exploring what you want to do with the rest of your life. Not what your parents want you to do. Not what your boss thinks you should do. Not what your spouse, family, friends or culture expect you to do. Not even what you expect you to do.
Give yourself this beautiful gift. Simply take some time and pay attention to what inspires you. You should soon have plenty of discoveries to work with.
Then ask the second question, WHY is it important to you? Asking WHY is the process of choosing the things that touch your heart. This is how you create a prioritized life. By filtering out things that are not important to you, you make space for those that are. The more you say “No” to what you don’t want, the more time, energy and resources you will have for what matters most to you. Say no to everything you possibly can so you can spend more time on your yeses.
Filtering unleashes the Power of Priority.
What you feel deep within you, in that quiet and peaceful space of reflection, will guide you on your journey to your absolute best life. Your heart knows the things you want to do. When an inspiration touches your heart, it’s a signal that it’s in alignment with your inner spirit. And how do you tell if something has touched your heart? By the way you feel, of course. You feel good. When you anchor a big idea to the things you love, things that are really important to you, it creates power. Anchoring gives you more power, energy, and tenacity to overcome the forces of gravity holding your life in place.
Anchoring unleashes the Power of the Heart.
Finally, you must determine HOW you will bring change into your life. Once you make a commitment, the universe conspires to make it happen. Focusing your attention on what you want. Making the time. Doing the work. These are signals to the universe that you’re all in! When you are fully committed, then the universe moves too. Things happen to support you in ways you could not have imagined before. So, make the commitment and get to work.
Doing the work unleashes the Power of the Universe.
The Transformational Process
Bringing change into your life changes who you are. Changing who you are then changes what you want and what you do. That, in turn, changes what you are inspired by. The Process keeps repeating over, and over. It keeps you progressing in a purposeful direction with consistency. That’s its secret. It will work for anyone desiring a better life, and it will work for you if you make the commitment to it.
While you’re working on your big ideas, please be super kind to yourself. Be patient. Focus on the work you love, not the outcomes you want. Start small. Go slow. Go easy but do not stop. Trust The Process. Trust yourself. Every day, every small effort is a step on the journey to your absolute best life.
Just keep on stepping…