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Step 1: Awareness


At any given time, you’re probably contemplating something. Whether it is for your personal or professional life, a little or big issue, there is probably something that you want resolved. You might want more of something or less of something. You might want to fix something that’s not working (literally or figuratively), start a new habit, or make a big change.

Once this awareness is at the forefront of your mind, it means it’s time to address it.

If you stuff it down and avoid the issue, there will always be something that brings it back up. Addressing doesn’t always mean you have to do something; it might mean that you’ll stop doing something – like pleasing, avoiding, or rescuing. You might let go of the need for control, or decide that it’s better not to do that project until next year. At least you’ll have made a decision.

          Putting off Issues that are Important Only to Ourselves

 The issues we are most likely to put off are ones where there is no specific and urgent need to act. We tend to be reliable human beings and will take care of our job, our kids, and our bills. We’ll keep busy with what we know and what we deem urgent. But we often put off making big changes, creating systems, or addressing issues that are only important to ourselves.

 I exhibited at an event recently where I asked people what they were feeling stuck or doubtful about. The topics that came up included career changes, retiring, getting healthy, steps to grow their business, managing change better, addressing a family issue, dealing with finances, and getting published.

 What do they all have in common? They take up space in our head but no one is knocking on our door waiting for us to make a decision or get into action! We aren’t accountable to anyone but ourselves.

 According to Tim Urban in his TED Talk, ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’, there is no scary internal “Panic Monster” telling us to hurry up. These are “when you get around to it” goals that make us miserable but not miserable enough to act upon.

 When you are AWARE that you feel stuck or doubtful, and if you want to have peace of mind and feel accomplished, now is the time to put this issue on your priority list. If you don’t, it will still be an issue for you a month, a year, or a decade from now. It’s not a matter of how soon you want to address it, it’s a matter of having the right tools and strategies to address it.

 Gain Clarity

 In my 8-step Action Cycle, you must begin by noticing what is making you feel doubtful, stuck, or frustrated.  Awareness is the first step. These are just a few of the questions you might ask yourself to gain clarity:

  • Name it: What’s going on? What problem or issue do you want to address?

  • Name the emotion. How does it make you feel?

  • What do you want instead? Why is this important?

  • What thoughts are you having that emphasize the problem? (Not always helpful!) In my book I explore ways to intercept those problem-focused thoughts.

  • What thoughts feel more encouraging and hopeful? (Let’s have more of these!)

 Become more aware of why this issue is important and what you already have to help you solve it; your strengths, passion, and resources. Ask yourself what is working and not working for you, and most importantly, ask yourself, “What do you WANT?” Take the time to dream about what you want and then take note of your starting point. Journals are really helpful at this step.

 Someone contemplating a career change might ask themselves, “What do I love and not love about my current job? What makes me feel unsettled? When is my energy high and when do I feel drained?

If you are struggling with change, consider how it is affecting you. How much stress does change cause for you, and when? Why is it important to address now?

 The point of Awareness is to gather information and to evaluate your thoughts and emotions. You name the issue and get some clarity about what is here right now.

     The next step is Acceptance, where you will begin to shift from letting the issue slide by to deciding to do something about it.

See you next time, and be sure to reply to my blog if you have comments. Thanks!

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