My goals do not motivate me.
You read that sentence correctly. My goals do not spring me into action, shall we say. They TERRIFY me, freezing me into my own ICE BLOCK of overwhelm and nausea.
I know—so Tony Robins of me. I bet all you are signing up for marathons just reading this.
When I look at a monstrosity of a long-term goal, all I can think is, “How the hell am I supposed to get from here to there?” That’s why project management makes as much sense to me as cryptocurrency.
Whenever I’m faced with a question I cannot answer, I think about how I would approach the problem if it belonged to someone else.
Whenever a friend comes to me and says, “Hey. I have this huge THING I want to do, how would YOU approach it?” my first answer is always the same:
When a friend asked me how I would launch an Instagram account—to be clear, I know JACK SHIT about social media—my response was, “Show up. Post every single day.” The post didn’t have to bleed Shakespeare. It just had to get published.
When another friend asked me if I thought she could run a half marathon, I said yes. Specifically, yes BUT she had to run one mile first. And she HAD to run that one mile that very day.
When a client asked how I would tackle launching an online program—a HUGE project—I responded with, “What does your audience want to learn from you?” Answering that question—what her program would even entail—was the smallest, babiest step forward I could come up with.
It starts with showing up. Then showing back up then next day. And the next.
I don’t think I’ve gone a single day without writing since 2015. You may not believe that, considering I post once a week (sometimes less) on this blog.
I write blog posts for (currently) four other websites. I’m usually working on copy for a client website at any given time. You may not see the fruits of this labor, but I swear upon my dog’s life, from 7AM to eleven, I’m writing. Because Steven King told me to.
I once read an article that Steven King wrote 363 days a year. In his memoir, On Writing—which I left at the gym and NONE of you have read yet—he said this was an outright lie. He always wrote on his birthday and Christmas.
Steven King shows the fuck up.
There are so many mornings when I come down to this coffee shop, open my Mac and STARE at an empty Word doc for forty-five minutes. Eventually, I’ll start typing a few paragraphs, and through those paragraphs an idea comes to me. Before long, eight hundred words pour out of me that I never planned on writing. I never intended on writing on that particular subject, but if I hadn’t SHOWN UP I never would have given myself the opportunity.
It won’t always be pretty. Sometimes you’ll show up and your work will be absolute shit.
I actually got into a quasi-argument with my friend Katie about this. Katie, a badass Cut Seven coach and personal trainer, commented on my effort at the gym saying, “Sometimes you’re in it, sometimes you’re just…THERE. It’s like you are there because you have this box to check.”
You got me.
That claim is one-hundred percent accurate. There are some days I walk onto that turf and have as much motivation to workout as I do to stop swearing. I am present in the physical sense only.
But if I only came to the gym when I was “feelin’ it,” guess what? I WOULD NEVER GO TO THE GYM.
I ran almost every single day of my life from the time I was eleven to age 27. I probably felt like going on, I dunno, TWENTY PERCENT of those runs. Yet I don’t remember ever once regretting it.
Every time you set a new goal it’s hard to remember how you conquered the last one: By taking the smallest step forward, then repeating that step.
Rinse and repeat.
Sometimes I have this irrational thought process that in order to launch a project, I need to wipe out my entire calendar for a DAY to focus on it. Since when? Did I ever ONCE reason that hitting a new PR started with running for eight, uninterrupted hours? Fuck no.
Launching and then conquering a huge goal is the result of finding an hour each day to tackle it. And eventually, those hours really add up. Some days you won’t be able to even squeeze out one, lonely hour amidst the chaos, and you’ll settle for carving out twenty minutes.
Because it’s not just about the twenty minutes. It’s about making whatever practice so ingrained in your daily life, your day seems unfinished without it.
When I ran like, all the freaking time, I could make it to a 5:30PM happy hour and STILL squeeze a run in. I would change in the office bathroom, run ONE mile, say “Fuck it” to showering, throw on some makeup, and march to the bar. While most people wondered what difference ONE MILE could possibly make, to me it wasn’t about that.
It was about adding those miles up.
The first step to getting in shape isn’t tearing up a workout—it’s physically opening the door to the gym and walking through it. The first step in eating healthy isn’t choking down a salad—it’s swiping your Mastercard on lettuce instead of Cheetos.
I have written over 100 blog posts on this website. The first step in writing one hundred posts was never writing them all at once.
It was coming to a coffee shop each morning, and opening my Mac.