Welcome to Phase I
I hadn’t planned to publish two blogs this week, but I felt as though some of you needed this as I know the PTSD of the past two-to-three years still seems to be keeping some of our population stuck or moving at a snail’s pace.
The latter being a better state, because at least there is movement even if it’s an inch at a time.
Going back to that “sober” vision that we really need to adopt and employ throughout this year if we seek to make significant progress or to meet a goal (or multiple goals). Or perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed by a specific situation or many areas within your life. I know that terrible tunnel vision can set in when you are feeling overwhelmed and powerless, and at times the world may feel like it’s caving in or like you are all alone in your troubles. You need to remember that you are only as alone as you allow yourself to be, as there is always at least one person that you can speak to, if it is not a close friend or someone you have that sense of trust with, then go the professional route. Nowadays there are many virtual therapy and professional options that you can possibly turn to.
In the last post I addressed the concept of “stretch goals” and as I mentioned, a stretch goal does not need to be only a professional aspiration like pursuing a promotion or launching a new business, it can also be a personal one such as getting out of debt, taking on a side hustle, or even building a stronger relationship with your partner or family. It doesn’t matter what you designate as your stretch goal, this is your story–you’re the main character, you decide.
There are many ways to focus on reaching that stretch goal, one could be just that “focus.” I am terrible at meditation and manifestation, but I know many who are amazing at this and this method really helps them to focus on achieving goals. You could also bring in an accountability partner or share your progress on social media as some do, sharing progress updates–sometimes having an audience keeps some people motivated. That method is not my style as I prefer to share only after I’ve launched something or met my goal, but this is effective for many.
Another tool that might be helpful is creating a SWOT analysis to assist you in identifying your “strengths,” “weaknesses,””opportunities,” and “threats” might benefit you, then try it–tools you use for business or in a professional setting can also always be hacked and adopted for personal use. If you need an example of how to lay one out for yourself, simply Google “SWOT Analysis Template,” and you’ll find numerous easy-to-use readymade templates. If you like using software aides, Miro boards are always helpful for visual planning and I believe they also have a SWOT template–if not, you can easily create one freestyle. If you need a more hands-on approach, then put pen to paper or grab a whiteboard and get to work (still my favorite medium to ideate and brainstorm on). Again, honesty and being realistic about each of the categories is key and what will benefit you the most, remember that you are doing this for you… so don’t cheat yourself.
Truth: I actually did one of these on myself last year just for personal development. I've still got a few things to continue to work on, but don't we all?
Hot Tip: If you aren’t sure of your Strengths and Weaknesses are, consider asking a handful of friends what they think your strengths and weaknesses are, but only ask if your ego can handle their responses. Most people are kind and positive when asked to participate in these types of exercises–yet, sometimes you do get those slightly harsher #truths–but that’s exactly what you want, input. Good or bad. In the end, you decide what you toss and what you keep and what feels right.
As with everything that you do, you know yourself best and you need to ensure that you are always approaching things from the most authentic place that you can.
Hot Tip #2: Really overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?
If you feel that your stretch goal or addressing an issue is more of a journey, perhaps try a personal roadmap.
Divide it into months or quarters and assign goals, deliverables, or accomplishments to each one and remember to review your progress at each month’s or quarter’s end.
Q1 = Jan, Feb, Mar
Q2 = Apr, May, Jun
Q3 = Jul, Aug, Sep
Q4 = Oct, Nov, Dec
Break the larger overwhelming thing into tasks, what are the logical steps you can take to reach your goal? If you instead need to go micro and create weekly or daily tasks, then do so. I take that approach with personal finances at times too and it helps tremendously. If your goal involves you learning something new, take that same approach. Many people are often impressed with what I have gotten to touch in my career. Yet, each of those things from streaming services, to social media, to apps, to co-founding and running a business or non-profits--I knew nothing next to very little about each of those things many of those things didn't even exist before I touched them and I had to learn with the world, literally millions of people, watching. But I did it, time and time again I've done it--stepped 100% out of my own comfort zone to explore something new, I'm doing it again in a couple of different areas at this very moment. I did it and so can you.
Hot Tip #3: One of the biggest things that you have to remember when tackling issues is communication really is important. I have been able to resolve what could’ve become very large issues, just by being communicative. Things become very muddled if there is no communication. And if you think about most everything in your life it all begins or ends with a conversation, no matter what it is–personal or professional. When there is no clear communication it is quite impressive but also frustrating what the human mind can fill in the gaps of communication with.
Hot Tip #4: Keep your eyes on the prize. This doesn’t mean don’t have any fun at all, or don’t hang out with friends or loved ones. Do all of that, this is life it is meant to be lived and in the end it is much too short to not enjoy it.
In the past almost year-and-a-half, I’ve had to cut out many of the distractions initially for health-related reasons and then as I figured out what I wanted to prioritize and focus on. Sure, I could’ve continued down a path that I’d started, but I know that in the big picture and looking down the road, limiting my own potential in that way was not the right path for me and so I had to make changes and sacrifices, some momentary and some not, but all necessary. In 2022, ironically (I do love a good satire) my stretch goal unexpectedly became “slowing down,” something I never saw coming until I felt it coming, so I had to derail most of my bigger plans until I knew that I could tackle them.
However, it also taught me that I couldn’t continue at the pace that I’d lived most of the past decade, especially not if I ever wanted to make time to allow others into my life. Yet, I knew that at that time I had to reduce my circle and distractions significantly so that I could focus on getting back to a better state of health, as social as I had been pre-pandemic, I found myself truly enjoying my own company and spending quality time with myself. This wasn’t a typical crisis that most people go through where they need to get to know who they are again, so they isolate to get in touch with themselves.
I have always been very sure of who I am and so this was not a period of getting to know myself again as much as it truly was a focus on getting myself healthy again and figuring out how to not spread myself as thin as I had since I was 20 years old. Many people think that if their phone is ringing off the hook or they are being flooded with messages that they are being productive, when in reality 70% of those are time-sucks. I had to figure out how to limit access to myself at least for a little bit and I can't say I've missed most of it.
Another thing that I learned very, very early on in my career that even though I do have great friends and colleagues who surround me, that I am my own motivator and you must learn to find that within yourself too or pull in that support circle to assist you. There will be good days and bad days, so just know yourself and be honest about whether or not you’ll need the support of others during the highs-and-lows. Not everyone is strong enough to go through that on their own, or so you may think, but the truth is that we all are, just not everyone wants to. Just don't be disappointed if not everyone is as excited about what you are doing, or if they fall off of your support team--people tend to get easily absorbed into their own worlds and distractions.
There is never anything wrong with asking for help, I am not the best at it, but I don’t judge anyone who does–people come to me for help or advice all of the time and I am more than happy to help. There are so many things that can serve as distractions, you have to decide what those are for you, where you’re going will have a lot to do with what you cut out or add more of, kind of like a food recipe.
I saw a quote today and was reminded of how much time as humans we’re also capable of wasting with distractions–social media is an issue for 90% of us and the #1 distraction, other digital and streaming platforms make up a fair percentage as well. Yet, people can be the biggest distractions of all. The quote spoke to exactly that, both the personal and professional goals sometimes sullied by human dynamics and behavior, i’m likely butchering it, but it said something like, “We are often distracted from what we want the most, by something we want in the moment.” Meaning, we often will use up our resources on something that does not really add value for us for the long-term.
Another similar quote with a slightly different spin that I’d also seen recently involved comfort zones, which is what holds and will hold most of you back from even striving for the stretch goal, and that was, “Don’t let what feels comfortable or familiar, keep you from having what you want or getting to where you want to be.” You need to continue to foster your own growth, it is rare that anyone else is going to do it for you.
I remember meeting someone one day and they seemed to know everyone and then a friend pointed out, oh they grew up near here and they've never really left so between school, professional colleagues, and social acquaintances and their siblings also living in the same town, it did seem they knew half of the town, a walking definition of "big fish in a small pond." When that person finally did venture out, they had trouble adjusting and ended up pushing opportunities away, because not everyone was their #1 fan in their new place of residence. I hadn't realized they'd even moved, thinking they were just on vacation until they came back, back to their comfort zone, during which we had a long talk around this subject. They had regrets, but they couldn't get themselves to leave their own "land of fans and opportunity" even if it limited their potential and stymied their growth.
Every now and then you get lucky with a supportive team of cheerleaders (I am truly fortunate to be able to count on some of my own and I hope that I am one for many of you), but it is rare that people will openly cheer for you unless there is something in it for them. You have to be strong enough or focused enough or to want something enough that others are of little to no consequence to your mental health, nor your journey towards obtaining that desired goal or outcome.
You can also of course enlist the help of a professional coach, a mentor, or like I said and accountability partner but in the end only you know the place that you are starting from and what state you are in at the starting line. Hopefully, by the time you reach the finish line, you will still be you, just a version that feels that sense of accomplishment of doing something on our own for ourselves that can’t often be replicated.
Remember, the best approach is to break your goal up into phases or smaller goals that will lead to your desired outcome. Curing diseases, erecting buildings, launching products, and solving world problems all have one thing in common, a phased approach is almost always adopted. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and tbh Romulus and Remus had the advantage of not having TikTok, YouTube, or IG Reels to distract them and those who actually put in the work.
Remember, this is your goal or multiple goals and so long as you try, there is no such thing as failing if you tried your best. Sometimes the win comes in knowing when to pivot--a topic for another day.
Go do you. You won’t regret it.