Bulldozing Beliefs Part Two — Taking Action Toward Your Purpose
In my previous post, I talked about bulldozing the limiting thinking that inevitably occurs when it comes to considering our purpose.
Today I want to talk about the action phase of this journey. You might have been conjuring for a while, and are now starting to take steps to bring your purpose into life.
And you might be wondering, now I’ve cleared those initial limiting beliefs out of the way, is it all smooth sailing?
In the previous post, I talked about the courage that eventually turns into conviction once you’re clear about what you’re really here to do.
This can happen incrementally. It may be over a series of weeks, months or years. Eventually, you’re ready to take action.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that it’s all roses now you've found your way. Doing deeply meaningful work is one of the most satisfying things we can do! But our brains look for danger regardless.
So even though you’ve cleared out the muck that sounded something like ‘I can’t make an income doing what I love’, or ‘it’s too late to reinvent my career’, you’ll be in for a slew of new limiting thoughts specifically designed to get in the way as you start to take action.
I can hear the groans from here.
The good news is it’s not just you and it certainly doesn’t mean you need to put down your tools and crawl back into your shell.
Remember, churning out thoughts is the mind’s bread and butter.
The invitation is to respond to your thoughts in the same way you did last time.
You'll want to pay attention to the new thoughts, slowly but surely bulldozing each one, until their grip loosens and they no longer stand in the way between you and action.
Here's a reminder how:
For each limiting thought, answer the following questions:
Can I absolutely know it’s true?
What's it costing me to keep believing it?
Then, challenge yourself to find one person who believes or demonstrates the opposite, as an example that this is not the only way to look at things. It could be anyone: a colleague, friend, celebrity, author...
To illustrate this, I'm going to share a real example from my own action phase as I started to take bigger steps toward establishing my coaching business.
But first, I want to take a moment to applaud you if you’re already in the action phase.
I can’t say this loudly enough:
Pursuing your purpose goes against the grain. It takes courage.
Acknowledging that your status quo no longer suits, and opening yourself up to new possibilities can actually feel a little, or a lot, like falling apart. So you deserve incredible credit.
And, you’re in good company.
I’ve seen countless people -- friends, family and clients, reach their 30’s and 40’s and realise that the original path they signed up for has now become intolerable. The idea of spending the rest of their working lives doing the same thing does not bring joy to their heart.
My belief bulldozing
After taking a series of small and consistent actions toward becoming a coach, I decided I'd built sufficient evidence and experience to invest in a bigger step.
So I went from small actions, like taking an initial course to test the waters, coaching people in my networks, and creating a website, to taking a bigger step: deciding to free up one day per week at my then day job to focus exclusively on coaching.
It felt like a very real step. Dedicating one day per week to coaching meant that I could no longer hide behind it as a ‘hobby’. It felt like it made my pursuit that much more serious, perhaps a little risky.
In the change framework I work with, there's a saying that accompanies the stage in which we move from conjuring (dreaming, imagining, planning) into action.
This is harder than I thought, and that’s okay.
This recognises that the reality of making a change involves challenge and commitment. And really, isn’t that the way we’d have it regardless? Don’t we value things that much more when we actually work for them?
Challenge in this phase comes in two forms.
1. External Obstacles.
Things like my boss not letting me reduce my hours, or having trouble finding clients.
2. Internal Obstacles.
Largely, our thoughts and beliefs (what was that I said about the mind being relentless...).
Here are a few of the top tunes my own mind started belting out as I considered asking permission to reduce from five to four days per week:
What if some catastrophe occurs once I transition to four days in which I desperately need the extra day’s income? Or worse, what if I couldn’t justify the same brand of tomato sauce on my four day per week salary?
What if my boss fires me outright just for asking? What if he flat out laughs at me and tells me to get straight back to my real work?
Will I be able to juggle my day job and a side hustle? What if I overwhelm myself and end up burned out again? Or worse, what if I just sit around twiddling my thumbs at home and never get anything done?
It’s easy to make light of these worries in hindsight, and the reality is that they always feel pretty real at the time. My point is really to bring attention to the fact we all have various versions of these beliefs. And they certainly get in the way of living our best lives.
Without a doubt, terrible things happen. But in my experience, and to quote the famous Sunscreen song, they're the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
They’re rarely the things we spend all our energy worrying about.
I did eventually move to four days per week. And it did end up being a very easy transition. Now that I’m focusing solely on coaching, I realise how much work I was doing to sustain my day job and establish a new business on the side, but it was absolutely worth it.
Did any of the above worries and fears come to pass? No.
Was it as big a deal as my mind would've liked me to believe? No.
As always, hindsight is a remarkable teacher.
If you’re currently in the taking action phase, and find your own set of fears cropping up, try this.
Let your mind float back, and think of a time when you had to make a decision you were a little concerned about.
What was the decision?
What was your biggest concern about it at the time?
How concerned were you about this, on a scale of 0 to 10?
Did your concerns come to fruition?
Looking back, how concerned do you think you actually needed to be, on a scale of 0 of 10?
The purpose of this exercise is to provide a little perspective, and perhaps reassurance from the future self that is looking back at you right now, in your current situation.
If your future self could give you faith that what’s worrying you right now is probably unfounded, what would you do differently as you set about taking action?