A Three-Part Journey of Positive Change: Explore, Focus, Go!: Part 3: GoAug 01, 2011 10:55AM ● By Kathy Kane
Journeys of positive change don’t follow a straight line. Are you finding that out? The route zigs and zags, loops and backtracks—but that’s all perfectly normal. If you are ready to GO, read on. If not, read on anyway! You may need to take some small steps to gain more clarity. Put your foot on the path and surrender to the creative process.
While exploring and focusing, you kept your awareness up and your mind open. Small questions gave you “aha” moments and, perhaps, led to more questions. Did you notice synchronicity? People, ideas, opportunities just showing up? Exposure to new things may have led you in directions not considered before. Are you journaling? Have you tried writing about your journey “as if” it’s already happened? Have you accepted that this creative process in which you’re involved does not have to be perfect? Continue these activities. These habits will serve you in all facets of life.
We often become accosted by fear along our journey of change. This gremlin pops up in all sorts of guises: procrastination, overwhelm, perfectionism, self-sabotage. Not everyone—in fact, very few—go from point A to point B, C or D without a hitch. This is where small steps come in.
We’ve spoken about Dr. Robert Maurer, Ph.D. and his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way. Dr. Maurer describes how the part of the brain that produces the fight-or-flight response leaps into action at the appearance of any challenge or change and “alerts parts of the body to prepare for action—and our access to the cortex, the thinking part of the brain, is restricted, and sometimes shut down.”
Small steps help you stay below the fear radar. Small steps allow access to the thinking, creative part of the brain. Small steps change habits, gradually, slowly, permanently.
The following are some tips to get you started on taking small steps.
- For example, you’ve determined that you need to find a new job. That’s a big goal, a goal that will certainly engage the fear response. Ask yourself what is one small step you can take today toward your goal, then break it down and make those steps smaller still. And maybe a little smaller than that. Allow yourself to think about it, daydream, and journal about it. Ignore the voice that tells you it is foolish, too much, you’re not ready, you’ve tried this once before and it didn’t work. Remember whose voice that is: the gremlin named Fear. This is a just a first small step. Thinking and daydreaming are valid first small steps. Just be sure to follow with a second small step.
- Ask yourself (small question) what worked in the past. What other challenges have you faced or goals have you reached and how did you do it? Could you do something similar this time?
- Find a buddy. In Kaizen Muse Creativity coaching, we use Parallel Universe Time™. We check in with a partner, determine what we will do (small step) and how much time we will spend. To continue the job search example, your first small step might be to find your old résumé, register on a job search website or research job-search tactics. Pick one step, perform the task, and when the time is up, check back in with your buddy. Making appointments and having accountability makes getting something done so much easier.
- What are some of your procrastination/avoidance tactics? Is it the internet, phone, computer games, TV, cleaning the kitchen floor? Try using a timer. Set the timer for five minutes, and work on your small step. You may want to go longer or you may take a break and come back for another five minutes. Either way, you’ll be further along than if you did nothing!
- Work with intention. Stating an intention sharpens your focus. It also activates the law of attraction and synchronicity. Stay present with that intention, whether for five minutes or an hour. When you get distracted, come back to your intention. As with meditation, this gets easier with practice.
Now that you have an idea where you’d like to go and some small steps and strategies to get started, GO! Remember that this route is not set in stone. There may be different stops along the way, and some may be around a curve and not visible right now. That’s okay. Remember your journey’s not a straight line—and relax and enjoy the trip!
Kathy Kane is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach® and an Amherst Writers and Artists affiliate. Connect with her at [email protected]