A Simple Tool for Giving the Things that Matter Most the Attention They Deserve
Are you giving the things that matter most the attention they deserve?
On this podcast, I try to equip us all with the mindset and the means to live with even more guts, gusto, and abandon.
Today’s episode emphasizes means more than mindset and gives you a simple tool that will help you outsmart the part of you that, for whatever reason, may be dragging its feet on something that you know is important but you’re finding hard to do.
With consistent use over time, this tool will help you give the things that matter most the attention they deserve.
A New Frontier
It was a crisp fall day, and my client and I were strolling along the path next to the river as we often did, engrossed in conversation. On this occasion, my client–who I’ll call Lisa–was working hard to get herself over the starting line of a project that was very dear to her heart but involved an unprecedented level of personal vulnerability. She was about to take her first steps into a new personal and professional frontier, so to speak. She had already established sufficient conviction that she wanted to explore that frontier. She was committed in her head and in her heart.
Now, she was faced with the daunting challenge of actually entering the frontier that until this point she had only gazed at from afar.
All of the hard personal work she’d done to this point now hinged on her ability to commit to real action in the real world–a step that would almost immediately begin to give her real-world feedback about the actual value of her project compared to the value she hoped it had.
Maybe You Can Relate?
Some of you can relate to this experience–the moment when you’re about to present your metaphorical baby to the world for the first time, hoping that the world will like it, deathly afraid that they won’t.
Complicating things for Lisa was the fact that she didn’t have to undertake this project, strictly speaking. She didn’t HAVE to present this baby to the world. No one would know if she didn’t. No lives were at stake–at least not in any obvious or direct way. Lisa was voluntarily entering a new personal and professional frontier, with all of the unknowns that it contained, because she had come to realize deep in her heart that even though no one was watching, she had to do it. It was clear to her that it was somehow part of what she was made to do in the world. So she was choosing to forge ahead because she had resolved that the cost to her of NOT doing so was higher than the cost of doing it and failing.
For Lisa, the greater failure was shrinking back in the face of fear and uncertainty and regretting down the road that she didn’t respond to the call in her heart.
Some of you can relate to that cost / benefit arithmetic, too. Maybe somewhere in the recent or distant past, you faced a similar moment of truth and stopped short of entering a new frontier. And you have the regret to show for it. You can even trace a slow decline in your experience of life and your opinion of yourself back to that moment. Or maybe you successfully summoned the courage to move forward, and you have the deep personal satisfaction and real-world consequences from that experience to show for it. Some of the consequences were unequivocally great, some of them were hard–but ALL of them were useful and helped you become the person you are today. You can trace a clear improvement in your experience of life and your opinion of yourself back to that moment.
If we’re honest, I think all of us can recall at least one of each of those kinds of moments in our Stories.
Spontaneous Tool Fabrication
In Lisa’s case, the specific, real-world step that would signify her entrance into her new frontier was setting a start date for the first event in a series to which she would invite others to sign up. And right then and there, in that conversation on that crisp fall day, we fabricated the tool I want to share with you today. I’m not sure why this tool came together in that precise moment, to be honest.
But it’s one of the collateral benefits of engaging in purposeful, meaningful conversations with someone over time: Every once in a while, something new and significant and unexpected emerges from the fertile soil of the partnership right when it’s needed. Something immediately useful and actionable.
This was one of those times.
The tool is a simple way to commit yourself to concrete action in the real world when you’re on the verge of entering a new frontier but find yourself holding back. We’ll call it the “No Time Like the Present” tool–or NTLP. Not a very sexy name. Got any better ideas? While I await your suggestions, here’s how to use the NTLP…
How to Use the Tool
First, remind yourself that “there’s no time like the present.” After all, today is all we’ve ever got. Tomorrow never comes.
Then, in light of the fact that there’s no time like the present, ask yourself, “why not now?” Give this question real consideration. What legitimate factors or variables might make taking action at a different time more advisable? The key word here is “legitimate.” Maybe your target audience will be more available after the upcoming holiday, for example, so waiting to engage them until then makes actual sense. Maybe the person with whom you need to have the hard conversation will be out of town for another week, and an in-person conversation is what’s needed.
But be on the lookout for factors or variables that you concoct to avoid the discomfort of crossing over the threshold of your new frontier–factors or variables that are figments of Resistance at work within you rather than genuine, real-world obstacles.
It can be tricky to distinguish between them–especially when fear is in the mix–so take your time here.
If no legitimate things come to mind, then take that first real-world step into your new frontier right then and there. There’s no time like the present!
If something legitimate does come up, though, that makes taking action later more advisable, then move on to the third and final step: Ask yourself, “if not now, when?” Set the date and time when or by which you will do the thing that needs to be done. Put it on your calendar to put yourself on the hook.
Back to Lisa’s Story…
Lisa put this newly-forged tool to good use right then and there and set the start date for her event series. With that decision, she crossed the threshold into her new personal and professional frontier. And that one decision set in motion a string of other decisions and actions that needed attention in order to actually start on the date that she set. Lisa was moving forward and picking up momentum. She was on her way.
Lisa’s relief and exhilaration was obvious and immediate as we continued our walk along the river on that crisp fall day.
It’s like that isn’t it–when we haul ourselves over a starting line, sometimes kicking and screaming on the outside, but knowing deep down that it’s not only what we truly want, it’s also what’s best for us. We feel better, and we actually get stronger. We move forward with more purpose and resolve and clarity. We are more the person we were made to be, living more of the life we were made to live.
Lisa ran that first event series, and she learned a lot from the real-world results of that experience that she can plow back into the soil for an even better harvest next time. Some of the lessons were enjoyable, and others were less so. But as we mentioned earlier, ALL of them were useful. Lisa wouldn’t have gotten the benefit of those lessons and the internal growth that went along with them if she hadn’t used the tool we created together to put herself on the hook.
Now, you can use it, too.
Let’s recap. The “No Time Like the Present” tool is a simple way to commit yourself to concrete action in the real world when you’re on the verge of entering a new frontier but find yourself holding back. It’s a way to help you give the things that matter most the attention they deserve TODAY rather than continuing to wait until the ever-elusive “tomorrow.”
First, remind yourself that there’s no time like the present.
Then, ask yourself, “why not now?” If you can’t come up with any legitimate reasons to wait, then take action NOW.
If you do come up with a legitimate reason or two, though, then ask yourself, “if not now, when?” And put it on the calendar to put yourself on the hook.
There you have it, the NTLP.
And please…rescue this tool from it’s deathly boring acronym. Send me your suggestions!
Remember, you ARE going to die. But you’re not dead yet. So get after it!
I Want to Know…
How will you use the NTLP to give something in your life more of the attention that it deserves?
I’m so glad you tuned in today. Don’t forget to follow this show, and I’ll see you next time on Andrew Petty is Dying.
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If you're new to this show, browse the archive of past interviews with fascinating people and short, topical solo episodes like this one--all designed to equip you with the mindset and the means to become the person you were made to be and live the life you were made to live with guts, gusto, and abandon. We flip the script by inviting our ancient foe, Death, to become an unlikely ally in our heroic journey to leave it all out on the field of life. Turns out, Mortality might just be the most potent motivator available--blasting us out of our ambivalence and complacency and toward the fullness of our potential.