As I reflected on last month, I 100% believe that each and every one of us is worthy of going all in on our dreams! But so many of us get stuck or don’t ever get started because we’re so overwhelmed by the “how.” We know where we want to go, but we just can’t see the path ahead. So we don’t even take the first step because we’re too afraid of the unknown.
I call this getting stuck in The Loop. We’ve all done it…
The Loop starts when you go to a seminar or read an amazing book or watch an inspiring video and you let yourself start to believe your dreams are within reach. You get yourself excited about the amazing possibilities out there. You say, “I can do this!” And you start researching and brainstorming.
But when you start searching, you don’t have a clear sense of where to start. You can’t find what you’re looking for because you’re not even sure what that is. You feel like you’re fumbling around in the dark. So you get discouraged, and you set your dream on the back burner… until something inspires you and The Loop starts again.
I remember when I would get stuck in The Loop. I wanted to make changes but didn’t know how. I would go to a talk or a seminar because I was always so intrigued by the feeling I had that I could do more with my life. I would get so fired up, then I would research and research until I got discouraged. Until I found information that told me, “See, you can’t do it. It’s been done already.” Because that’s what I was actually looking for — evidence that confirmed my doubts.
That’s what we’re looking for when we’re obsessed with the how. We’re looking for a reason to quit, a way out, because the fear can feel overwhelming. It’s the fear of the unknown, of not knowing how it’s all going to turn out. We want to know it’s all going to work out and then we’ll get started. But that’s not how it works! That’s just how we stay stuck.
Trying to get started on your own is like searching for things in the dark. You’re fumbling around and all you have to go on is a vague sense of what’s in front of you. That’s what happens when you’re too focused on the how.
But if you take a step back and really think about your why, before you try to figure out the how, you won’t be fumbling in the dark anymore. Ask yourself why you are choosing to do the things you do? And why do you want to make this change? What purpose do you ultimately want to achieve? Once you know your why, you’ll suddenly be able to see things as if the lights were switched on. You’ll see all the things you’ve been doing that have nothing to do with your ultimate purpose. You can evaluate what’s actually a waste of time, or, most often, if you’re doing things just because they’re on your to do list or because they’re just the things you’ve always done. You’ll know what actually needs to be done because you’ll be clear on why it’s worth it and how it leads you closer to your ultimate purpose.
Somewhere, maybe deep down, you already know your why. Maybe it’s been clouded by what other people think you should be. Maybe it’s buried under all the fears telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t. But it’s there, and once you bring it out into the light, everything gets so much easier.
Your why is your map into the unknown. It’s the thing you can come back to to help you get where you’re going. Refer to it often. Once you know it, not using it would be like driving from South Carolina to California by just getting in the car and starting to drive. You’ll probably get there eventually, but it’ll take you a lot longer, and the stops you’re going to make along the way will be different. Is it scary to follow your why? Absolutely! But it’s shortest path to where you want to go.
And it’s not just a fluffy mission statement that goes on your wall. It’s the north star — the thing you use to define your revenue streams and whether they accurately reflect why you’re doing what you’re doing. You can’t make good decisions about which clients to take or what projects to propose or how to spend your time unless you know what you’re actually working toward (and for). Why it’s worth it.
Trust me — once you know your why — the how will always come! In fact, here’s a little secret: you already know how. Because the how is nothing more than doing the next right thing. I know you’re thinking, “it can’t be that simple.” Society tells us it has to be hard, a struggle filled with confusion. It doesn’t. Sitting there thinking and not acting is what’s actually causing you that pain. And the reality is, you can’t think your way into right action, but you can act your way into right thinking! So start taking on your why as soon as you figure it out.
I have a sticky note on my desk that I turn to all the time. It just says “next step.” That’s it! All I actually have to do at any given time is take one step and do the next right thing. With a clear sense of my why, I can do the next purposeful action that’s on my to-do list. I can quit letting fear get in the way and just reach out to the potential client I’ve been delaying calling. I can go ahead and draft that blog post. I can pick up the phone and make that pitch to the company I want to work with.
Now, I know that when I get obsessed with the how, I’m future tripping. I’m sitting in fear, staying stuck. So I pause, remind myself why I’m doing this, take a deep breath and just take the next step! I remember I’m just climbing the staircase to my dreams one step at a time — not trying to reach the top of Mt. Everest!
And if I keep stepping, one step at a time, I’ll eventually get to my purpose. And when I do get there, I’ll look back and realize I knew how all along.