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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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.

Just keep showing up

“Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.”

The trainer who repeated those words over and over during a boxing class I was in several years ago probably has no idea how much he helped me that day. He helped me not just get through a grueling workout, but planted the seeds that would start blossoming into the increasingly unshakeable sense of perseverance I have today.

If you¬†care deeply enough about something to want to get¬†good at it, to succeed, and to have an impact, you’ve GOT to keep showing up. Over and over again. Even when it¬†gets hard, or boring, or terrifying, or uncomfortable.

Sidenote: Just to be clear, this only applies to¬†things that are important¬†to you! Please don’t continue to tolerate¬†something that is¬†harmful or makes you miserable just for the sake of being persistent!¬†

As far as I’m concerned, your ability to persevere in the pursuit of your dreams far outweighs all other factors when it comes to¬†creating an¬†extraordinary life you love. The good news is that¬†it can be learned, so if you haven’t already, make it a priority to get better! Here are some tips to get you started.

Be clear on the purpose
Be honest about why you’re pursuing something in the first place. Is it because¬†you think you should¬†or because you genuinely want to? Go for the plans and projects¬†that are¬†rooted¬†in your values and light you up. It’s much¬†easier to stay committed to something if you have a strong¬†WHY to come back to when it gets hard.

Commit
Decide that this is important enough to put in the work. It will be hard. You will fail. Accept that from the get go as part of the process and commit to seeing it through. Make it non-negotiable. Declare your commitment to yourself, the universe, and your people (preferably the supportive ones who will cheer you on.)

Skateboarder at skatepark about to go

Confront your fears
Fear is a great indication that there is something important in front of you. It’s also a ridiculous source of energy. Feel the fear, then take action, even though you’re scared.¬†Tap into the physical energy coursing through your body and channel it into the bravery you need to take that first step.¬†If you let it, fear might even become your greatest ally, instead of¬†your worst enemy.

Keep showing up
Get out there. Some days you’ll be excited, progress will happen quickly, and you’ll feel unstoppable! Other days will seriously suck. Just keep showing up. Day after day. It may feel awkward, uncomfortable, or embarrassing. You might want to give up. Don’t. Just come back. Over and over again. Remember it¬†takes consistency to see results.

Skateboarder at skatepark

Embrace failure
Know that failure is simply part of the process. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s SO not helpful. Instead, pause and lick your wounds for a bit if you need to. Then take a deep breath, pick your ass up off the ground, dust yourself off, and climb back on the damn horse. It’s all about learning. Or as a yoga teacher of mine once said, “when you fall out of a pose, that just means you’re¬†learning how not to fall out of that pose.”

Fall down seven times. Stand up eight. ~ Japanese proverb

One of my favorite frameworks to use when it comes to learning new skills is the conscious competence ladder, which¬†this article explains in more detail. The middle phases are bumpy and that’s okay. You’re allowed to suck before you rock.

Gordon's conscious competence ladder

Get support
Like the stick figures helping each other in the diagram above, remember that getting support is part of the process too. It could be in the form of a coach or mentor, a mastermind group, a sports club, family, or just a workout buddy. Lean into your people and give them the great honor of letting them lift you up. We all need help sometimes.

Don’t compare
Don’t waste your precious time and energy comparing yourself to others. Cheer them on, celebrate their wins, and then go back to honing your craft. Your journey will likely look unlike anyone else’s, so honor your own timing and process.

Skateboarder in the air

Savor your progress
While the destination (let’s say mastering a certain trick on a skateboard or reaching a milestone in your business) may be an amazing reward in and of itself, undoubtedly¬†the greatest reward is who you are becoming in the process. Acknowledge the small wins and how you are expanding as a person along the way.