I argue that everything in life can be broken into 2 choices: do it or don’t do it (which also leads me to some really shoddy probability theories, even though I took 4 statistics classes in college… oops). You always have those options: Yes or No.
We’ve all “had that friend” who has an issue you both know she needs to deal with but she just keeps going ‘round and ‘round in circles, complaining and whining but not making any actual progress because the whole thing feels way too big and much to serious. (Yes, I’m talking about you.)
In those situations, and in other small ones, too, we think that we always have to make the big choice, the noble action, the one that feels crazy hard and daunting. But, you always have two ways through. Yes or No. Do it or Don’t.
My favorite book of the moment, Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith, poses this most amazing, wonderful question for us to ask ourselves: “Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?”
(As an aside: I could write my own book on how transformational this book has been in my life. Everyone I know is getting one for Christmas next year – you’ve been warned.)
The way Marshall applies that question in the book is in all of those little, triggering situations where you’re ready to default into your shitty behavior (yes, we all do it) and not be the person you want to be. I love that application. I’ve been using it, and it’s making all the difference. But I want to apply it to something bigger.
Think of that big rock, the boulder – or mountain – that’s looming and you KNOW you need to make a decision about it. Ask yourself the question: “Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?”
The answer can be no. It can absolutely, 100%, without any doubt be a whole-hearted, yell-at-the top-of-your-lungs “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!” with twelve O’s and 15 exclamation points. (It can also be a yes with a lot of e’s, too. But that’s a lot easier to allow yourself.)
Sometimes the answer needs to be no. I’ll give you a personal example.
When I started on this wellness career path, the most visible “guides” I had were social media mavens who make their living off of Instagram videos. I LOVE Instagram: I love sharing little square tidbits of my life with you, and I figured it’d be really fun to make those videos and give you fitness and wellness tips.
WELL. After exactly one video, I was exhausted. It took many hours and Googling of how to use Adobe Premier before I pumped out something I was vaguely proud of. My naïveté and sometimes unfounded sense of confidence let me down. This shit is hard.
And since I felt like I HAD to be doing this to build a brand, I was staring at my mountain: Was I willing at that time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on that topic?
HELL NO. With one simple question, I gave myself permission to drop that act and get back to doing what I really love – the actual teaching, planning classes, making playlists, and writing. Videos be damned.
That may feel a little oversimplified, but it often really IS that simple. Are you willing to do the big work and stay positive about it? In my case, nope.
And it applies in other ways, too. Let’s say you want to work out more, and you know that the only way you’re really going to be able to stick to it logistically is if you exercise before work. But right now, waking up at 5am and figuring out a new morning routine, when you barely get to work on time, is really daunting.
You may not be willing to do all of that big, huge work right NOW, but you might be willing to do something smaller to get yourself closer. That’s the power of the question. It gives you agency and allows you to really assess where you are in the moment and what’s required of you to do it well, and only that one thing… not everything.
In that scenario, maybe you start by just trying to create an exercise habit in the evenings when you can, so that the workout itself isn’t so scary. Or maybe it’s a commitment to not hitting snooze every morning until getting out of bed without groaning and dread is doable. Then you get to ask yourself the question again. And again and again and again – always checking in to make sure you’re still willing to make investment form where you are now to move in a positive direction about that specific thing. You don’t have to solve every single problem, just one. Pick one that you ARE willing to invest time into and start there.
I bet right now there’s some little monster-y voice in your head saying “ooh, ooh, pick me!” and you know exactly what it is you need to face. Look at it. Square off with it. And ask yourself RIGHT NOW:
“Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?”
If your answer is yes – run at it FULL SPEED AHEAD. Invest and reap the reward. But if it’s no – know that it’s perfectly okay. It’s allowed. You can choose something different. You can let that one go with gusto and pick something else where the answer is “yes!!” that puts you in the right direction. Or you can keep saying no and no and no and no until you find something worth the work. That’s what’s important. Follow that thing instead.