Seriously–Fuck “being realistic.”
Pragmatic? Yes. Implementable? Yes.
But “realistic”? No.
I’ve never gotten anywhere in my life by “being realistic.”
Guess what? If you’re trying to “be realistic,” you’re not getting anywhere, either.
I’m not talking about surrendering to the truth of current reality, or acceptance as freedom. I’m talking about the times when “be realistic” is really a euphemism for “don’t think you’ll get much” or “lower your hopes and dreams so that you won’t feel the sting of disappointment.”
They told me to…
People have told me to “be realistic” about:
- growing my business
- healing my body
- making money
- available job opportunities
- healing relationships
- living where I want to live
- affording something I wanted to afford
For example: I was told to “be realistic” about a health issue that, it turned out–and I knew this in every cell of my being, all along–there was a way to fix (the doctors were WRONG).
I was told to “be realistic” about starting a business and seeing it make money. I was told to “be realistic” about healing relationships–that “people don’t change” and I “shouldn’t expect much.” I was told to “be realistic” about being able to afford wild travel adventures or the house I live in, today.
Take a moment to think about all the places in your own life where you’ve been told to “be realistic,” to reign it in, to not hope for too much.
Chances are, this “be realistic” shit has poisoned several areas of your life–career, money, intimacy, partnerships, connection, creativity, passions…
Then consider where else in our world we tell ourselves to “be realistic,” and how that negatively impacts our quality of living, as a collective whole.
We tell ourselves to stop even hoping that poverty or violence could be a minor societal problem, or even eradicated, and then those problems simply swell. We tell ourselves to stay in jobs that we hate because we don’t think there’s another way to live, resulting in a culture where most people hate what they do eight hours a day. We tell ourselves that people don’t change and so it’s better to avoid those family members who push our buttons than it is to enter into collaboration (the latter is certainly more valuable). Families are torn apart by this nonsense.
Look–lots of people have told me lots of things over the years about “being realistic,” and what it always has amounted to was that their own world view was limited.
Every single time I decided that I’d take in their feedback–while pursuing my own highest vision for what I wanted–it has worked out for me.
Every. Single. Time.
Down to Brass Tacks
What’s realistic is only ever this: what you clarify wanting for yourself, and what you dare to go after.
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That’s the kind of “realistic” that I choose–the reality of looking around, asking what’s possible, then asking what else is possible, and putting positive action in that direction.
Along the way, there’s sweat and work and disappointment and tears, but all of that is a pretty worthy price to pay for “being realistic.”
What makes your list?
So here are a few things that I currently practice not “being realistic” around:
- Finding a cure for the auto-immune disease I was diagnosed with;
- Making six figures with a beautiful business;
- Completing an Ironman triathlon;
- Having sacred orgasms;
- Widespread social change that results in eradication of hunger and poverty;
- Publishing a book;
- Owning my own home on some land in wine country;
- Changing your life.
Practical action + “unrealistic” life dreams is a wicked powerful combination.
So–If you weren’t “being realistic,” what would go on your life list?
Practice courage, and you get unstoppable. This is the complete program in courage that helps you clarify what you want, and then supports you in getting it–no matter the fear, procrastination, resistance that arises.
It’s important to know what drives you–what’s your motivating force?
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it…chasing safety? Money and success? Being of service? Obligation? Responsibility? Bliss, joy?
What’s driving the underlying energy of that conversation, of that relationship, of that interaction–domination? Respect? Collaboration?
What’s driving your career, right now? Fear? Courage? Passion?
Stopping to ask yourself about the driving forces in your life will point you to what it is that you’re creating.
We are creators, constantly creating. The life I live today is a very different one than I lead five, ten years ago. That’s been through a series of choices I’ve made, little choices that created and made up the whole.
When I was a new coach, I didn’t feel like I was creating anything–I felt incredibly reactionary. I didn’t feel like I was creating a client base; I felt like I was reacting to the clients that came (or didn’t come). I didn’t feel like I was creating a business; I felt like the world was holding back, not giving me permission to create the business that I wanted to create in the world, and that I was reacting to that.
(Oh! Massive Victim energy to acknowledge in that!).
It was jarring to be in that space, because outside of the vulnerable context of trying to work for myself, I knew that I made powerful choices, not reactionary choices.
As I share in the introduction of The Coaching Blueprint, the entire program has been born of the same ingredients as everything else I’ve ever created:
I have a sincere desire to help people end suffering. That’s the place that I create from.
I created The Coaching Blueprint out of a sincere desire to help other coaches, because I will never forget how those early months of trying to grow my coaching practice from “side hobby” to “business” felt. I cringe to remember those comparisons. I shudder to think of the endless days spent spinning my wheels.
With The Coaching Blueprint, I created exactly the program that I would have wished for, that would have helped me align with my center, get focused, and see movement happening.
The same is even true of The Courageous Living Program–once things began falling into place in my life, I was compelled, utterly driven, put it in a format where it could be shared.
I realize only in hindsight that the times when I’ve been reactionary have been times when something other than my power was driving me.
Clinging to control. Insisting on safety. Avoiding risk. Prioritizing old stories of lack. Continuing to exist in a space of less-than, because it’s comfortable.
That’s what drives me when I’m reacting to life, instead of creating my life.
We all do it, to some degree or another, in some context or another (no one’s perfect).
The difference between those who are successful and those who experience less success is directly correlated with an understanding of what drives you, and how to change course when what’s driving you isn’t anywhere near where you aimed.
It’s not about becoming perfect; it’s about noticing the perfection of where you’re at, and making conscious choices within that realm.
So consider: what’s driving you, today?
What do you want to be driving you, tomorrow?
When you’re living courageously and choosing to practice courage, it’s inevitable that you’re going to run across things that you want to change about your life. Perhaps you’ll make your stop doing list or perhaps you’ll decide that you want to manifest a big dream.
Either way, this involves change–how do we change habits? More importantly, how do we make them stick?
Truth? Making a real, lasting change in life has to do with everything outside of the actual actions taken to implement the change.
When we change the resistance that we have to making a change, that’s when there’s room for real change to happen.
How I Learned to Love the Gym
Let me illustrate this with a short example.
A few years ago, I hated gyms. I hated being stuck indoors on machines. I hated the clanking of weights. I hated how I felt like an old fart because the internal monologue in my head was chattering away at how “those crazy kids” running the gym had that “darn music up too loud.”
I had signed up for yet another gym membership, though, and kept forcing myself to go, because I was paying for it, and because I am a runner and needed a place to go when the weather was bad. Winters in the Bay Area are known as “the rainy season,” and the only thing I hated more than the gym was running outside in cold, windy, wet rain.
I had decided that I was going to change a habit and become someone who exercised regularly. I had all of these visions and fantasies of what it would look like to wake up, roll out of bed, and go to the gym to get my cardio on.
But really, all I wanted to do when I woke up in the morning was sleep longer, or wake up and lounge around in my pj’s reading and eating breakfast before starting my workday. I tried pushing the gym off to afternoons or evenings, but I could always rationalize not going then, either.
Then one day, after waking up in the morning and doing the usual dance in my head about whether or not I would force myself to go to the gym, something snapped. This time, I was angry–at the idea of going to the gym, at myself for not going to the gym, at the resistance that seemed to plague me.
I was furious at this “will I, won’t I?” dance that I engaged in every morning, before finally “forcing myself” to do something that I clearly did NOT want to do.
So here’s where I went: “Fuck it. I am NOT going to the gym. In fact, I am not going to the gym again, ever, until I actually WANT to go.”
For the next two and a half months, I woke up every single morning and asked myself, “Do you feel like going to the gym, today?”
I never did, so I wouldn’t go.
And then, at about the two month mark of asking myself this day after day, I suddenly noticed that I kind of felt like going to the gym. It kind of interested me. It kind of sounded like a good idea.
Because I didn’t “want” to go or “desire” to go, I continued with my regular morning routine and avoided the gym. I was not yet an “authentic yes” to going.
And then, one day I went to the gym in the morning. It wasn’t so bad. I even kind of liked it.
I’ve been a gym fanatic, ever since.
The Work That Comes Before The Work
Typically, when we’re trying to change a pattern, all of the focus is on how to put the new steps in motion. What will you stop doing? What will you make time for? What new system will be put in place?
And, of course, the ever-present question: How will I continue to make this change, even when the going gets tough and I don’t feel like it, anymore? What will I do when I encounter resistance to change?
I’m a big believer in working with our natural inclinations and tendencies, while applying presence. We notice where we’re naturally inclined, AND we practice the presence it takes to see clearly, so that if we’re participating in a habit or way of being that is not helpful, we are willing to see it, so that right action can be taken.
The critical difference in my last approach to going to the gym was that I saw my resistance really clearly, and I kept checking back in on it. I didn’t make myself bad or wrong. I knew what I was looking for: a genuine desire to go to the gym, not one that was predicated on body shame, or “have to,” or anything else.
If you really want to make a change and make it stick, it’s critical that you look at and deal with your resistance.
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Resistance, by the way, is just one of many costumes worn by fear. We resist the things that bring up fear within us, even if the fear is as simple as the fear that we’ll try to do something and not see it through, and then feel bad about ourselves for that.
Working with Resistance
If you really want to make a change stick, look at the resistance factor before you go buy a new time management system or set a million alarm-clock reminders or make a long to-do list.
Note: Check out The Courageous Living Program to get an entire *program* in creating powerful and lasting life changes.
The Authentic Yes
Even after I started going to the gym, again, I used the same tool of asking myself, each morning, what I wanted to do.
Did I authentically want to go to the gym? Was I an authentic yes?
Simply leaving the door open for saying “no,” seemed to shift something. I went from “have to” to “get to.”
As long as I was boxing myself in around change– “You’re going to do it differently, and that’s that!” — so much energy was tied up in the struggle to make myself do something, whether I liked it or not.
Sometimes, our souls just need to, like…breathe. Your soul is already telling you what it is that you really want. You can listen, or not.
As I write this, it occurs to me that someone might say that this doesn’t apply when someone has an addiction; that with addiction, it’s necessary to just get a grip and force yourself to stop doing something.
While I’m grateful every time a judge orders a repeat drunk driver into a rehab program and gets them off the road, I also think these are valuable questions to ask even with addiction.
Because really–who among us is not addicted to something?
In my case, with going or not going to the gym, I was addicted to control. I wanted to control my mornings. I didn’t want any “rules.” I can even see how other things in my life at the time were promoting a sort of child-like resistance to someone telling me “what to do,” even if the person doing the telling was me, myself, and I.
Even with addiction, the work is not necessarily not picking up that drink, it’s actually having a desire to stop the pattern of addiction. Until someone has a desire to stop a pattern, all the rehab programs in the world won’t do a lot of good.
So ask yourself: when you want to make a change, and you can’t seem to make it stick, what’s motivating the change? What’s your resistance? How might you work through that resistance?
For some people, they’ll work with someone one-on-one, others will turn to guided resources, and still others will look to spirit or a workshop or retreat or the simple quiet of their dining room table with a journal and a cup of tea.
Instead of aiming for change that sticks, aim for your “authentic yes.”
Trust me–it won’t fail you.