Following Through: Just Show Up

by Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC

A lot of people want to write a book. Maybe you are one of them.

I spoke with a would-be author recently. She had begun her first book, determined to produce a sample chapter that would dazzle the publishers, who would waltz her across the dance floor to published bliss. Alas, the publishers had two left feet, trampling her dreams of a coherent book that would serve the people she had in mind.

Her goal was derailed. She felt frustration, sadness, even grief. It seemed impossible to once again find the will to move forward. How could she follow through on her intention to write her book?

One way to be true to whatever is within you is to “just show up”. Do the easy part of whatever it is you need to do, and see how far it takes you. Writer’s block is getting in your way? Fine, just sit at your desk doing nothing during your writing time. Don’t’ write, but don’t do anything else, either. No solitaire, no email. Just write or don’t write.

If exercising is one of your goals but you hate everything about actual physical exertion, fine, just go to the gym and be there for your allotted exercise time. When the time is up, leave. Either exercise or don’t, so long as you’re at the gym.

In order for this follow-up technique to be effective, it must be truly okay for you to go to the gym and not do a single rep. Otherwise, you’re going back on the deal that you made with yourself, and who wants to make deals with a cheater?

If you decide you want to quit and abandon your goal, fine. Make an affirmative decision to set that once-important goal aside and choose another. But if that vision still hooks you, follow it by just showing up. Have you tried this? Tell us about it by leaving your comments here.

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2 comments so far

  1. Claire Tompkins on

    Margaret,
    So good to be reminded of this! It’s so easy to discount the small steps we take and not see them as progress. SARK has a lot of great advice on this topic. I just found a great article on her website called “Doing More Things Badly,” about how it’s more important to do something poorly than not at all. Wise counsel.

    Claire

  2. Susan Tiner on

    Margaret,
    This reminds me of advice a friend once gave me about learning something difficult. The idea was to engage in the experience as if it were play, not work. To do so meant opening up and engaging in the ideas just enough to see what you might be able understand if there were no pressure to actually understand anything at all. I applied this technique to learning advanced mathematics, a subject formerly closed to me because of fear of failure. Practicing this simple technique helped enormously, in part because when we are really playing, we slow down and lose ourselves in the experience, utterly focused on the thing at hand. It’s this kind of peaceful focus that enables us to learn.
    -Susan


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