Be honest about what you suck at and create a way to never do it again

I'm not a naturally organized or put-together person. A large part of the reason why I am successful is because I have an amazing support system and I hire people to do the things I do not do well, which by the way, is quite a few important things (such as paying bills on time). Here are some other things I am not very strong in:

  • Taking photos
  • Feeling motivated to go out and party (I don't drink alcohol, so it's not the same.)
  • Accounting
  • Detailed forms
  • Repetitive tasks
  • Organizing
  • Following up after a project is completed
  • Tracking the answer to a problem through 18 different channels
  • Managing stress
  • Taking financial risks
  • Laundry
  • Doing things I don't want to do

I've managed to build a pretty successful consulting practice, despite not being able to do a lot of the things most humans need to be able to do to feed, house, and cloth themselves. How could anyone successful be so bad at so many things?!

I have an amazing support system to help me. Most of the time, if I don't do something well I either create a system where it is done automatically or isn't needed at all, or I hire someone to do it. Why spend time trying to learn to be good at accounting when you could be focusing on the things that you are excellent at, and working with someone else who does it well? Unless you want to become better at accounting and you have the time to devote to it, it's better just to build it into your system. A great support system is the difference between the CEO of a fortune-500 company and a struggling stay-at-home entrepreneur. Instead of making yourself feel ashamed and guilty by asking questions like, "How can I convince anyone that my ideas are good if I can't even get organized? Who wants to work with someone who doesn't have it together?", ask a friend, do a trade on Facebook or Craigslist,  or pay someone to help you do the things you aren't good at so that you can move forward.

If everyone had to face their demons about paperwork, or ironing, or whatever bogus stuff your parents used to yell at you about before we could do anything else, we'd never do anything interesting. 

Getting what you want: 80% Why, What, Where, Who, When and 20% How

There are really important reasons that you don't you just..you know, do the thing that you want to do.

Most of us who begin the process of creating goals report the feeling of being "stuck" at some point or another. Sentences like, "I don't even know where to start" and "What am I supposed to do?" and any attempt at suggestions by friends are usually met with, "Yes, but I can't do it that way for [reasons x,y,z]" So, in the past, we have ended up doing pretty much nothing but a lot of talking.

Being stuck is such an awful feeling. The thing I hear most from friends who are trying to start their own thing, like a coffee shop, buy a home for investment purposes, or start a website, is "I don't know how to do it." Ok. You know HOW to do it. Of course you know HOW to do it. Google it, and you'll find 1) The books you need to read to learn about it 2) Someone who has done it before describing exactly how she did it 3) An online forum or in-person meetup of like-minded individuals.
But I think what most people mean is: "There are way too many steps between what I'm doing now and the thing I want to do, and it's way too confusing for me to figure out, so I'm shutting down."

Which is totally understandable. I don't think humans naturally deal with multi-stepped plans very well, at least not without a lot of support and planning.

I just finished reading this article about New Year's Resolutions (Are people still making these?) He outlines one really basic part of reaching goals. They have to be really, really specific. Detailed and specific goals sort of bypass the whole "too-many steps" thing that makes it so hard for humans to get things done, because either you're going to draft a basic e-mail to send to a potential client demographic by 2:30 this afternoon or you aren't. If your goal is "Get all my e-mails sorted out" it's hard to know where to start, what to do, or when you've finished.

I find really magical things start to occur when I start asking for exactly what I want. I have a friend who goes into the thrift store looking for something incredibly specific, and walks out 2 minutes later with the thing that she wanted in her hand.

Even very, very unrealistic goals start happening when you get really specific about them. While I don't believe that the universe wants to provide you what you want, I do believe that when you get specific about goals your subconscious can work at creating it. So even though it seems like something is happening magically, it's actually YOU that created it. You just weren't aware of it.

So here's one process that you can use to have a clearer idea of exactly what you want:

Make an inspiration collage.

  1.  Grab a stack of magazines, a glue stick, scissors, and a piece of thick paper of any size. (Two pieces of 8.5x11 paper are a good size for me.)
  2. Set the timer for 10 minutes, and start browsing through your magazines, tearing or cutting out the pages that you are drawn to. Don't think too hard about this process. You are trying to tap into your less obvious wants and desires, so just rip out the pages without thinking. Go quickly, because you've only got 10 minutes!
  3. Set your timer for another 5 minutes. Cut out the parts of the images that were interesting to you and glue them to your thicker piece of paper in a way that makes sense to you. Again, don't think too much about it, just go with your gut feeling. * An important note - Make sure if you have cut out images of people whom you associated with yourself that you cut out any faces and do not include them in the collage. It sounds weird, but you want these images to lose their identities in order to replace them more easily with your own.
  4. Once your collage is all glued and assembled, take out a piece of paper, and going around your collage, start the sentence "I am the one who...." and say the first thing that comes into your mind about each picture in the collage. For example, perhaps I cut out a steaming mug of coffee. The first thing that might come to mind would be to say, "I am the one who always has time to chill out and relax for 5 minutes." or maybe "I am the one who nurtures myself through buying my favorite coffee without worrying about the price." Everyone chooses different images that mean something to them, and it doesn't have to make sense. It's coming straight from your subconscious brain. Make sure to write these notes down.
The next day, or the day after, get out your inspiration collage and your notes, and make another list. When, where, who, and how. Under each "I am the one who..." statement, make a note of when you want this to happen, where it will happen, who you need support from to make it happen, and how it's going to happen. I'm often less concerned with the how, because so much of the time the how is often the last 20% of the project, and I end up walking into my goals effortlessly. (At least it feels like no effort, but in reality I've probably been working really hard.)

I think that book The Secret talks about something similar, but it's not much of a secret. :)


Reflections on 2012: When Are We Doing Enough to Be Awesome?

During this time of year, a lot of us reflect on the 2012 and consider what worked and what didn't. This is my little reflection on 2012.

Once in a while, I am afraid I am not awesome enough and that if I don't become awesome soon, then I'll be too old to EVER become awesome.  
This feeling often comes about when I'm in a particularly sensitive mood, and I see a poised and lovely woman about my age, and she seems to be effortlessly flying through so many awesome parts of her career and life.  She has nicer clothing than mine- she makes an effort.  She looks like someone everyone can trust and spend time with. She looks fun. 
And I feel as if convincing other people to give me money in exchange for providing a service (e.g. consulting) is absolutely the most unlikely thing that will ever happen to me; how could I have tricked so many people into paying me up to this point? I feel scared, like my clients may drop me as soon as they realize I am not a good choice, and that I will eventually become homeless. 
From not having a job, because everyone secretly thinks I am awful.  
I know this is irrational. But it still feels true once in a while. And it makes me think and plan wildly to prevent this impending homelessness. 
I have been homeless. Sort of.  
When I was 12 the woman my dad was sort-of dating at the time kicked me out of her house after an incredible screaming match with my dad, probably to punish him, and I went to stay with a friend for two weeks before we drove to California with all of our belongings. My dad slept at his office. My friend had a very abusive stepfather, and I slept on their couch, witnessing and hearing him slap her and her sister around most nights. Luckily, he never touched me.  Save for the uncomfortable sexual innuendoes he would make in the presence of me and his step-daughters.  
I believe that situations much like the one above are probably the source of a lot of feelings of fear, sadness, and anger in our adulthood. When you're young, pathways are created in your brain based on feelings that you have during certain situations. They are created to protect you, so that you can survive to adulthood without having a nervous breakdown, or putting yourself in dangerous situations. But they may not be that useful anymore, since I hope we've figured out how to take care of ourselves pretty well by now.  
I think we all have to remember the difference between thoughts and feelings, and when things feel absolutely impossibly scary, to take a breath, step back and say "Ok. That is a feeling. My thoughts are telling me that I am doing OK. Even great. Right now, my feelings are firing little neurons in my brain, probably leftover from childhood. Thank god I don't have to be in that same situation ever again." And hopefully we can all move forward, trying the scary things we know in our brains to be good decisions, even though our feelings may be sending off sparks.  
I want to share that there is room in the world for all women to be effortless and confident and perfect and to take risks and to be perceptive and clever and beautiful, just as they are. Even women who are afraid, not perfect, tentatively trying new things, and unsure of quite what they are doing.  
You are providing the world with what it wants right now by being who you are.  
I spent most of 2012 listening to others, which was the theme I decided on in the beginning of January last year. This year's theme is "Let it flow." I hope to navigate 2013 with peace and balance, letting choices come into my path and lovingly deciding what I want to create with them. I wish the same for you.