Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to try one of those one-week detox programs that I always read about in magazines. The regime was strict, but not crazy (it wasn't one of those liquid-only 24/7 for days on end kind of things). The big kicker for me though was that there was no alcohol or caffeine allowed. For me, this is pretty close to a deal breaker. The mental magnitude of trying this out, even to lose a few pounds, made me want to quit before I even got started.
I knew that I couldn’t just jump into this with both feet with no preparation. I’d be a cranky loon before the first day was done. So I decided to break it down, and ease myself into it one step at a time. Two weeks before I started, I stopped drinking alcohol. I started drinking more Arnold Palmers and cherry Diet Cokes (just to feel “fancy” at happy hour) and because nothing else changed, it wasn’t that bad.
One week before my detox week, I stopped drinking caffeine. I’ll admit- that one hurt. Gone were my fancy drinks, and getting going in the morning was a lot harder than I thought. I got the caffeine headaches, the crankiness, and the mood swings. (I was really popular with my family and friends.) But after a few days it got better, and I felt the first real glimmer of “I can do this”.
For the detox week, the only change left was food, and I already knew from my experience the previous two weeks that once the first few days were over, it wasn’t that bad. I had more energy, and I was sleeping better. By the end I felt better and lost a few pounds. Win for me!
Sizing Up the Impossible
Whenever we are looking at a project or obstacle that seems too big to possibly accomplish, what I think happens is that we start bringing up a whole bunch of excuses telling ourselves why this thing can’t be done. Our brains get overwhelmed, we bicker with ourselves, and the end result is either we quit, or worse yet we don’t even start. We talk ourselves right into action paralysis.
The Brilliance of One Step
This is the point where we have to start talking about Jedi mind tricks. If you start chewing on the idea of something that has the appearance of being to big to handle (and that would encompass just about any lifestyle change, job transition, learning, etc.) you are going to find that you are filled with a lot of self-doubt. And who better to make you feel worthless, out of control, and completely inept than your own inner critic? You don’t have to tell a single soul what you are thinking, because your inner critic will browbeat you to death with all the reasons you can’t succeed if you let it.
The inner critic is on high alert when you are contemplating something big, so what you have to do is fly under her radar. You can make progress towards it with just one step. If you want to lose weight, maybe you start talking walks in the morning or stop drinking soda. If you want to start a business, maybe you start reading things by other people who are doing what you want to do. If you want to get a new job, maybe you start researching companies that you think you’d like to work for. The point is, don’t make it so big that you wind up on the IC’s radar. Before you know it, you’ve gained the confidence you need to start thinking about another step. And if the IC comes along, you are going to feel more confident telling her to take a hike and leave you alone.
Make Up Your Mind
What have you been itching to do that you haven’t done yet because it seems too big? You don’t think you have the time, energy, or resources to make it happen? What’s the smallest thing you could do today or this week to start moving you on your way? Commit to doing just that one thing. That’s all. Nothing scary, and nothing threatening. Don’t think about doing anything else until you know this first thing enough to feel confident in it. The benefit of this means you aren’t going to get yourself all tangled up in self-doubt, and you aren’t putting barriers in place if you learn something new along the way.
What I’m Doing This Week
I’ve got so many projects spinning around in my mind that I feel like I'm making next to no progress on anything. This week, I’m going to be focusing on mind mapping. I read an eBook by Mark Dykeman (who blogs at ThoughtWrestling.com) called Unstuck, Focused and Organized Using Mind Mapping (affiliate link). My step this week is going to be decluttering and downloading everything in my mind into individual mind maps so that I can feel confident focusing on each project individually. Plus, extra bonus, it seems like a fun idea. Work and fun? Sounds perfect to me.
So I’ll throw the question to you. What one step are you going to commit to this week?
(photo credit by Mrs Logic)