#7: From good ideas to real-world actions
The first simple step for bringing your deepest desires into the world we live in
Sometimes I struggle to keep up with my thoughts. Can you relate to this? Confession o'clock:
I think you a letter WAY more often than I write you one.
It often comes up that I think, "Oh! I want to tell you about this," and then my attention moves and I follow it another direction. You didn't know?
As you might imagine, I'm an abysmal poker player. This brings me to my point:
When we spend our time thinking about our intentions, values and desires; no one else knows.
All our internal goings-ons we are experiencing alone unless:
1. We ACT on them
2. We communicate them
If you happen to have a great story for a book and imagine all the details, really think it out, all that in-your-head action ultimately doesn't get books written. Or emails sent. Shucks.
If you want to create changes in your life, taking action is important. Unfortunately we can't imagine ourselves into healthier relationships, realizing dreams, or getting stuff done - and - this one is a kicker: self-care is an action.
Does that mean all your deep thinking, dreaming, planning is for nothing?
Of course not!
Purposeful change does not happen without contemplation.
The science of human behavior suggests a 5-step model of change. Those steps are: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
This sounds straight-forward enough, but I invite you to consider the role fear and avoidance play. You might move forward from preparation to action, get slammed with a wave of uncomfortable feelings, pull back, and move back into contemplation. Expanding and contracting is a normal part of change. Sometimes we return to old patterns, evening for a while to pre-contemplation, losing sight for a time of a need for change.
All of the points in the cycle of change are important in making changes. Pre-contemplation is the stage in which the opportunity for change exists but hasn't made it to our awareness yet. How does this matter?
At some point, you weren't yet thinking about changes that have been important in your life. Yet here you are. You've made changes before. You've been through this cycle and have it in you to build on those earlier successes. Let's take a moment to notice that. You are already successful.
So, there's stuff a-brewin' in your brain that you want to bring into reality. What do you do? Instead of outcome, focus on process.
Whether you want to write a book (or regular emails), or have a healthy partnership, or fall in love with your own magic; those are big goals.
Rather than the over-arching distant GOAL, which can be overwhelming, hone in on your first (next) action in the process. The one that you can do now. The purpose of this is to make change accessible. To quote psychotherapy celebrity Steven Hayes, "Small is good. Over and over is good. Being responsible for building larger patterns is good, because it will lead to remarkable progress."
If you're wanting a healthy partnership, being a healthy partner is composed of many small actions. Whatever the goal is, choose one step that you can do now and get started. Rinse. Repeat. See what happens.
Reading a letter or a blog entry isn't therapy. If I'm working with you in therapy and you're subscribed: Fabulous! I hope it's reinforcing what we're getting into in sessions. While not a substitution for the individual care of mental health treatment, what the letter does is it puts therapy concepts into writing so that they can be accessed more widely. If you know someone who'd benefit, forward this on to them. There are two ways to sign up to get these letters in your inbox, a consent checkbox for new clients in intake, or easy-peasy from the website... available for anyone.
Finally, You Incredible Human, I want to return to how important it is to celebrate your successes.
What's that about? When we focus on deficits we often shut down. That's a natural response. With that in mind, its good strategy to be kind to yourself. Let's acknowledge that this often doesn't just happen. Indeed, kindness itself needs to be practiced. You've got this.