Here’s the quick version of this post:
- Hold fast to what you most desire.
- Name what you want.
- Acknowledge what’s bound to get in the way.
- Take actual steps over and through the obstacles.
- Don’t do any of this alone.
And here’s the longer one:
1. Hold fast to what you most desire.
Without a clear sense of your truest, deepest desires you feel uncertain, unclear, and often unmotivated to plant a stake in the ground — fearful that you won’t get what you want anyway, even if you know what that is.
Desire is not about its fulfillment. At least not completely. It is about risk and faith and trust and belief. And without these? Well, you wander, or worse, you feel like your feet — and life — are encased in cement. But when you DO know what you desire, everything is possible! Desire is what creates and enables possibility in and of itself. (And it is the stuff of the very best stories ever!)
A Practical To-Do: Let yourself dream! What do you most want? What would you envision for yourself if you could? No editing. No censoring. No doubts. No fears. Everything and anything allowed. Do NOT get waylaid by the endlessly long list of reasons why you can’t have any of this. Let yourself be hungry for all of it. Let yourself want! Desire. Desire. Desire!
2. Name what you want.
There is no end to the thoughts and emotions that swirl within me. But unchecked, unarticulated, and unnamed they can, at times, become so overwhelming that I can’t see my way through to anything practical, to next steps, to any form of clarity. I feel overwhelmed and stuck.
Thankfully, these moments, even seasons, are increasingly rare. I have learned to move the words out of me. I intentionally make them tangible, seen, and heard. I write everything down and read it back to myself. I talk to others (in discerning, appropriate, and safe contexts). I literally see and hear my desire, my longed-for story, instead of *just* being aware of it within. And it’s the same that I’m encouraging for you.
Choose to let your words, thoughts, and emotions be named, heard, and seen by both self and others.
A Practical To-Do: Using #1, above, as prompt, ask yourself: what do I really-and-truly desire? Then close your eyes (yes, really) and type. No spellcheck. No worries. Just go! Some aspect of the inner critic gets silenced; when you open your eyes back up and read what you’ve written, you will see and hear with more acuity than before. Truth is spoken. Themes are revealed. And clarity emerges. Not all at once. Not forever and ever, amen. But in ways that are new, revelatory, and important. You’ll discover insights that can’t help but compel your needed next steps and the story you long to live!
Another Practical To-Do: Talk! To a therapist, coach, spiritual director, and/or trusted friend. It’s invaluable to hear yourself out loud. (An interim option is to record yourself on a voice memo. I’ve done this many times over the years and am always astounded by the words and unnamed truths I hear myself speak.)
3. Acknowledge what’s bound to get in the way.
When I start thinking about what I desire, I VERY quickly move to inventorying all the reasons why this isn’t going to work, why it’s going to be too hard, how I’m going to hurt others, how I’ll be misunderstood, and/or all the tension I’ll create . . . It is ONLY when I take the time and effort to articulate and name (yes, again) every bit of this that I can ever hope to move forward.
The story and life you desire and deserve automatically comes with risks, costs, and consequences. That’s the evidence that it’s real, that it’s powerful, that it’s worth pursuing!
A Practical To-Do: List out all the risks, costs, and consequences of your hoped-for future. What are you most afraid will happen? If those things do take place, then what might happen? And what are the risks, costs, and consequences if you DON’T pursue what matters most to you? This is not about doom and gloom; it is an honest acknowledgement of just how hard it is to move forward, how exhausting it is to lean into the wind, how challenging (and critical) it is to live what you desire and deserve. Now, of what you’ve named, what are you fully capable of handling when you already know it’s coming? What difference does it make when you’re not surprised by others’ reactions? How might paying even more attention to the costs of not living into what you most want, be the motivation you need to rise up and persevere?
4. Take actual steps over and through the obstacles.
I went through a long season in which there was a HUGE gap between what I felt on the inside and expressed on the outside. I made a deal with myself: “Just once today, you must tell the truth.” Sometimes, shockingly, nothing I’d feared actually happened. Other times I could see the hairline cracks extend under the facade I’d painstakingly sustained. Over time I got stronger, bolder, clearer. And eventually, bit by bit, the gap closed. I then made new decisions, took more steps, and watched myself begin to live in ways that felt aligned and sovereign. It was hardly dramatic and at times, almost imperceptible. But it was no less real.
Too much of the time we look at the chasm between where we are and where we want to be, then instantly feel certain that we do not have the capacity to make those kinds of leaps and dramatic changes. Understandably! Which is why you’re far better served by making tiny changes, experimenting, slightly tweaking your way of handling particular situations. That’s enough. It’s significant! And over time, those single, simple, small steps WILL add up to forward movement and even more momentum. I promise!
A Practical To-Do: Determine the very smallest step you could possibly take and take it! A “no” instead of a resentful “yes.” A beginning boundary enforced. Speaking (just once/day) instead of staying silent. Then take the next step and the next one after that. You’ve totally got this! I can hardly wait to see where those one-foot-in-front-of-the-other actions carry you in the the year ahead!
5. Don’t do any of this alone.
These steps, this effort, this life’s work? It’s a lot.
Perhaps easier said than done, but my strongest encouragement (and hope) on your behalf is that you choose to NOT be alone in any of it! I know how hard it is to navigate day-in, day-out life, let alone your stories — past, present, and future — without the consistency, kindness, safety, and wisdom, and presence of another. You don’t have to do it alone. Truly.
When we are not separated from self or each other, when we gather, when we vulnerably-and-bravely tell our truths, when we demand-and-live the story we desire and deserve, the earth shifts on its axis and everything changes.
If I were to create yet another list of next steps, it would look like this:
- Find, ask for, and accept the support you need.
- Tell and live stories that are impossible to ignore, empowered, sovereign, rich in possibility, and drenched in hope!
- Shift the earth on its axis.
- Change everything!
There’s absolutely nothing I want more for you, for me, for all of us — together.
May it be so.
If this post resonates, subscribe to my Weekly Letter. It does NOT skim the surface. It goes deep. It’s filled with truth-telling. And it’s from my heart to yours. Every Monday. 6:00 am sharp. And completely free. Learn more.