Putting in the work and doing the thing

Think about some of your goals and dreams. Are there any of them that truly inspire you, but you just aren’t making progress or seeing results? If so, ask yourself this: Are you actually putting in the work?

This is one of the areas where I see people get stuck: not putting in the work.

I’m not saying push hard, burn out, or wear stress and overwhelm like the badge that so many people do today. That’s not necessary or helpful.

What I am saying is that too many people say they want something, but never really give it a solid effort. In some cases, you need to just admit to yourself that you don’t actually want it badly enough and let it go. That can be hard to do – to break up with what you thought was a desire for so long. But it’ll give you a lot of bandwidth and energy back that you can put toward something else. Plus, you can always pick the thing back up later if you want.

I finally had to do this with learning Spanish. For the last 20 years, I’ve been saying that I want to “finally learn Spanish” and after lots of false starts and half-assed attempts, I finally admitted to myself that I just don’t want it badly enough. At least not right now. So, I gave myself permission to give up on it (for now) so I could focus on other priorities that are wayyyy more important. It was a huge relief! I look forward to picking it back up one day, but I’m no longer frustrated about being stuck in the limbo of mediocrity, while also not doing anything to get unstuck 🙂

Otherwise, it’s time to stop complaining, blaming, or lamenting the fact that you’re not getting results (while doing nothing about it) and instead start showing up and putting in the work it’s going to take to get there.

I’m a big believer in the law of attraction, manifesting, and trusting the universe to handle the details (woohoo for the woo woo!), BUT you’ve still got to show up and take consistent action.

runner sitting on track tying shoes ready to get to work

Let’s go over some common examples where this happens to illustrate the power of putting in the work and doing the thing.

Example 1: Putting in the work for your health

This is a great one, because you can’t just do it once and call it a day. It’s an ongoing, lifelong commitment to well-being that takes consistent work. With fitness, for example, the consistency of your exercise will have a much bigger difference than which type of workout you do. Sitting at home and complaining about your health isn’t helpful. Nor is spending hours researching the perfect workout or diet, and then never actually making any changes in your lifestyle. You have to actually put in the work and do the thing.

girl standing on track ready to get to work

Yes, listen to your body and gut and take breaks to rest and recover. Yes, be gentle with yourself and have compassion when you fail. Yes, be smart and don’t overdue it. But if you can commit and just keep showing up you will be well on your way.

Example 2: Putting in the work for your art

SO many people I work with have these incredible artists inside them just waiting to break free. Is that you?

By artist, I don’t necessarily mean what are traditionally considered artistic pursuits, like painting or sculpting. (Personally, I believe that all of us are artists. It’s just that our creativity shows up in totally unique and different ways for each of us.)

What I’m referring to here is that you have a creative energy in you that you need to express, an innovative way of thinking or problem solving, or things that you make. It could be graphic design, playing music, writing a blog, dancing, baking, singing, sewing clothes, or even building large exhibits for Burning Man.

Colors on a wall

Many aspiring artists reserve their creative moments for only when they’re feeling inspired or happen to have free time. If you’re satisfied with that, great, but I suspect that if you truly want to honor your passions, you want MORE. And guess what? Then you have to put in the work and do the thing!

Sometimes that means writing 200 crappy words a day, going to the dance class when you’re not in the mood, or making your art even when you’re not inspired. Don’t be afraid to create a mountain of mediocre work in the process. It’s all valuable, because you are practicing, learning, honing your craft, and training yourself to have persistence and grit. You’re also honoring – and nurturing – that creative life force inside of you.

Hand on the lens of a camera, preparing to get to work

Those of us who are perfectionists or stuck in a fixed mindset* (that used to be me – big time) can be so afraid to fail that we aren’t willing to even try, unless we’re almost certain of our success. If that’s you, for the love of all that is holy, please consider working with me so I can help you let that shit go ASAP. I will gladly smack that unhelpful tendency out of you 🙂

And obviously this applies to more than your health and artistic pursuits. It applies to your career or business, your relationships, your financial situation, and more.

SO! Are you ready to stop making excuses and actually go do the thing? To show up and put in some good old fashioned hard work to move you toward your goals and dreams? Then commit to the thing (whatever it is for you), keep showing up, and PUT. IN. THE. WORK.

*If you want to learn more about the fixed mindset vs. growth mindset thing, check out Carol Dweck’s book Mindset or watch her TED talk.

Start where you are

Indecision. Analysis paralysis. Perfectionism. Procrastination. Fear. And the list goes on. There will always be excuses for not getting started on the thing. I’m pretty sure I’ve used all of them myself, multiple times.

Today is just a short one to remind you (and myself) that you don’t need to have the whole thing figured out before you start. You don’t need to know exactly how you’re going to get where you want to go.

Stop waiting, just start. Put on your shoes, walk out the door, and start down the path. The next steps will reveal themselves once you get moving.

woman putting on boots

While dreaming and planning and finding killer strategies is great, don’t stay in the thinking space for too long. That can lead to spending a ton of energy in your head wrestling with things, when just taking some action will give you more clarity much faster. Imperfect action is generally always better than perfect inaction, as they say.

So, here’s to getting started. Have a dream, make a plan, take a breath, and dive on in. Take the first step, climb that first hill, and then suddenly you’ll have a new perspective and new information with which to determine where to go from there.

“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
~ Arthur Ashe

And on that note, I will sign off here today, so that I can go and take the first few scary steps of a project that I’ve been dreaming about (but hesitating on) for months because I thought I didn’t have it all figured out. And I don’t. Which is exactly why I need to start.