“When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it.” ― Paulo Cohelo, from The Alchemist
Today I pose a challenge.
A small act that might change everything.
You see, without a deadline many of us are nothing. We think and think about the things we want to do. The dreams we have. The changes we know we need to make. Yet nothing happens. They remain in our future. They eat away at us – the things we wish we could do, but never actually take the action to make a possibility. And we wonder why we’re disappointed they haven’t happened yet…
You’re probably thinking of one right now.
But why do we wait?
We wait for the perfect time. Which never comes. We wait until we’re ready. When the next step feels certain. Unfortunately that never happens either. How perfect is the timing of becoming a new mother or smoking your last cigarette? That’s what I thought. But then again, perhaps that means it was right all along.
Yet sometimes the smallest shifts can get us to take action on the things that have held us up for a lifetime.
So today I propose drawing a line in the sand.
My guess is the biggest decision you’re probably facing is to leave the somewhat lifeless job you’re ‘supposed’ to be proud of, and take the next step to pursue something that matters. That might mean changing industries, starting something on your own, or simply making a smaller shift in your current role. Or perhaps you’re a step ahead and it’s launching that first product, getting your first client or hiring your first employee.
That’s for you to decide. What matters is that you resolve to transition to something that embodies who you are – your talents, strengths, passions and vision for the impact you want to make on the world.
It doesn’t have to be the end all be all – in fact, it never is. That’s the beauty of it.
Life is a constant experiment, a constant series of corrections, of learning by doing and adjusting to what feels the most congruent with who we are. We never get there. With a career, the journey actually is the destination. So there is no pressure that you might not take the first step in the perfect direction. If it’s a step that excites you, that’s perfection.
So join me in drawing a long, thick, deep line – the process is simple:
- Draw your line – give it a specific date
- Find a reason why you refuse to put it off any longer
- Put it up where you’ll see it daily
- Tell a few people about it and kindly ask them to hold your feet to the fire
- Celebrate your courage
If your line is in six months then find that exact date in your calendar. Write it down – block off the whole day to celebrate you finally sacking up to rewrite your script.
Give yourself ample time to keep from panicking, but not enough to kill the urgency and fuel the complacency. For something as big as a new career, shoot for around six months. Three months can happen before you know it and nine months or a year is too far off to actually motivate. We want to feel the fire but not enough to cause us to retreat in panic.
And don’t worry, it often happens long before you ever reach your edge. Nearly ten years ago I drew a six-month line to retire from banging my head against the metal corner of my cube. Within seven weeks I was gone.
The Magic of Resolving to Make a Change
Your date will obviously depend a little on life situations, but for the most part, once you have a clear point where your story needs to change, you’ll figure out the steps to make it possible.
That’s the beauty of resolving to do something.
When you do, you start to act differently without even knowing it. We approach the world in a slightly refined way. Subconsciously we start to make small daily decisions and have conversations that we never would have had before.
Those decisions and discussions lead to places and opportunities we could have never imagined.
They open us up to the beauty of serendipity. To curious chance. Some might even call it “luck”. But it’s far from it. As coincidental as some things might seem, they are far from lucky. They’re just the results that come from fully resolving to make a change that matters to you. A change that you know you must make in order to have a chance at being whole.
Things are set in motion long before you actually jump off the ledge. And because of that, your fear of the ledge starts to fade. And often times the cliff gets replaced with a path. A path you know you’ve been wanting to walk for a long time. And that’s when things begin to transform.
So that’s your only task for today. Just draw your line and decide why it’s non-negotiable. Direct a few others towards it. Then let your decision sink in for the rest of the day. Oh, and celebrate! Because this is where everything starts.
I’ll even join you – two deep lines I recently drew were:
1. Two weeks ago my good friend Leo and I signed up for the North Face Endurance Challenge in December, a 50-mile foot race. We’ve gone on three runs over 10 miles since then. We still have a long way to go and you’re welcome to join us!
2. Last week Liz talked me into committing to having the full redesign and massive update to our Live Off Your Passion career course live by the end of this week – including its own interactive members-only website (similar to our Connect with Anyone course). It’s been a huge undertaking, but I think you guys are going to love it. The update will of course be free to all current LOYP members.
Very little of my current world would exist without the right lines (and the friends to help me draw them).
So how about you?
As a part of Live Your Legend, you already know your answer.
If you’ve been a passive reader until now, it’s time to embrace the community we’ve all created here.
We’re here to help any way we can.
In the comments, tell us your line, date and why it’s so important.
The more we engage, the greater our impact becomes.
The challenge has been thrown down.
I’m all in. You?