This is the ninth installment of "What Resonated This Week," where I share my observations around a common theme or topic that made an impact on me, and hopefully will be a catalyst for conversation and further discussion.
For the last few months I've published posts about what's resonated with me. Connecting the dots was the initial theme, followed by the idea that you need to customize your message and be mindful of your audience. After that I wrote about finding the courage to ask for help, and the power of "Coffee Talk" and connecting in person. Recent posts were on the hidden benefits of road trips, notes written on Post-its®, and customer service. And last week I wrote about bananas, nuts, and stories that suck.
This week it's about all about triggers.
If you're reading this, I'm guessing you're one of the many who earlier this week rushed out to their local convenience store in hopes of purchasing a winning ticket for the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot.
But you didn't win.
Even those that knew the odds of winning were something like 1 in 292 million weren't immune to the jackpot's siren call. Why is that? Is it the chance of a better life? To quit your job? To do those things you've always wanted to do?
Perhaps my sister summed it up best: "A $2 Powerball ticket buys a moment to dream."
Ah, dreaming. It allows you to consider the possibilities without the messy complication of details. What does it take to turn your dreams into action?
For most, some sort of trigger event must take place. A trigger is an event or circumstance that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation. A trigger might be:
The birth of a child.
A high school reunion.
A colleague's sudden passing.
A milestone birthday.
Winning (or losing) a major client.
An upcoming dental appointment.
Or an enormous Powerball jackpot.
Do you need to win the lottery to start following your dreams and having the life you want? Of course not. But you might need a bit of a push. Here are some things to ponder and get you moving:
"Live Like You Were Dying"
I sincerely hope you're not dying, but imagine for a moment that you've just been told you have a year to live. How would that change how you approach each day? What things would rise to the top of your priority list and which would fall away? I'm guessing that you'd start to do those things you always said you wanted to do.
Earlier this week I was talking to a friend of mine about the Powerball jackpot and how our lives would — or would not — change if we won. He reminded me of the Tim McGraw song “Live Like You Were Dying.” In it, the country singer tells the story of a friend who, when told that his days were numbered, chose to spend his time doing all the things he always wanted to do but never did. My favorite part of our exchange, however, was my friend's insight: "And it occurred to me, as we all prepare for the news about the Powerball jackpot, that there’s a parallel set of lyrics just waiting to be written that tells the story."
And those lyrics you write would answer the question of what's next, whether you win the lottery or not. Isn't that a nice thought?
The point here is that you are the author of your own life "song." If you have a vision of how you want your life to be, start writing your own lyrics instead of singing someone else's tune.
Stop Hoping, Start Doing
As Trent Selbrede likes to remind me, "Hope is not a strategy." When you say that you're "hoping" to do something, it's really just another excuse to procrastinate. Harsh but true.
Get honest with yourself. If something's really important to you and your happiness, you'll make it a priority. Carve out a few minutes each day, each week, each month, and before you know it you'll be focused on making it happen.
Stop hoping and start doing it.
Say What Your Want
The fabulous Bruce Kasanoff tells us that to have career success you need to do three things:
Focus on your goals
Fix your profile
Say what you want.
The trick here is to stay on task and not get distracted. To do that, you need to be very clear with yourself on what you're all about (and sometimes, more importantly, what you're not).
I advise my clients to follow a similar process with their businesses and their brands: focusing on your goals keeps you on track and well positioned; "fixing your profile" means making sure that your outside marketing matches your inside core values; and saying what you want is how you message yourself and your needs to your audiences. (See my related posts here and here.) As Bruce says, having clarity in these areas gives you an unfair advantage.
Another benefit of saying what you want is that it lets people know how they can help you. Which comes in handy when you're busy transforming your life.
Have Accountability Friends
Say you've been inspired and are determined to start living your best life NOW. Well, that is, right after you finish up that report. And call back that client. And do whatever else you need to do.
Time has a way of quickly passing and before you know it, you'll be approaching a new year. (What did you talk about doing in 2015 that you still haven't done?)
If you want your 2016 to be different than your 2015, the truth is that you have to change things. One way to do that is to designate what I call "accountability friends;" those people to whom you reveal your master plan, who then remind you to stick to it.
Keep in mind that this doesn't have to be your partner, family member, or best friend. In fact you might be better off not choosing one of them because of their natural bias and inclination to cut you more slack. May I suggest that you align with fellow like-minded LinkedIn connections?
Case in point: for years, I've struggled in calling myself a writer. Though I've always enjoyed writing and have written my share of articles, fear of ridicule and being dubbed an imposter kept me from using that self-descriptor. It was only recently that I finally gave in and actually published a post proclaiming that I was, and am, a writer (gulp). This came about because I felt empowered (and nudged) to do so by my LinkedIn connections.
Oh, and that accountability friend of mine reminded me that if I was calling myself a writer in a post I better call myself a writer in my LinkedIn headline. So I did. And a badass one at that.
How's that for a trigger?