Big Little Decisions

I’ve been known to throw myself into analysis paralysis - thinking about things as so big and so complex that the urgent and necessary actions in front of me disappear.

Standing at letter A, all I can see is Z. Ignoring the rest of the alphabet, I find myself running in place while trying to get to the next stage. I’m stuck with overthinking, endless researching, and keeping busy with work that couldn’t actually be further from “the work.”

That’s why I’ve found it so important to remember that small decisions are the ones that have the biggest impact. I’m much more effective when I can take the huge gap between myself and my goals and break it into tiny action steps - small decisions that I can make in less than five seconds, over and over again. Things like:

  • Ordering one more glass of water vs. one more pint of beer.

  • Picking up the phone to call vs. waiting for an email response.

  • Opening up a blank page in drafts vs. watching one more episode of Netflix.

  • Sending them that good morning text vs. checking email first thing out of bed.

  • Focusing 20 minutes in the gym vs. 20 minutes researching the best workouts.

  • Dropping 10% of every paycheck into savings vs. spending it on entertainment and “business development.”

At first it feels like nothing, but repeated over time these tiny choices can mean everything.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

All that really matters is you’re headed in the right direction.

3 Things Worth Noticing

The last few days I’ve been away on business with way too much time in my thoughts. Nevertheless it’s been a good opportunity to review what’s important for me to simply notice (and not necessarily to judge as right or wrong):

  1. The tone in which I speak about a person, place, or thing. My words often try to hide a feeling that my spirit just can’t.

    I say it’s casual, but my nervous laughter says it’s serious.

    I say I’m content, but with the added signature of sarcasm or sadness, what is it that I really mean?

    Luckily when I’m not keen to tune into my real voice, good friends have always been there to hold up a mirror. So when they ask me what’s really going on behind my self-scripted program, I get to replace the denial with the truth.

  2. What happens to my body when things don’t go my way. Although I’ve ID’d myself as a citizen of the world - always quick to find my groove in foreign places - recently not so much. Simple things like the time it takes to get seated at a restaurant or my struggle to read or pronounce literally any word in a place’s native tongue as been throwing me for a loop. My chest tightens, breath shortens, and I then realize it’s all about control (or my lack thereof). Even if it’s just for a second, it’s worth noticing that I’m not as evolved, as zen, or as patient as I once thought. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to be real about my shortcomings, forgive myself, and continue working on them delusion-free.

  3. How many (and what kind of) excuses I can make in a day. I’m sitting in a new place thinking of all the possibilities.

    I could create something significant here, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

    I could ask a local for a recommendation, but I don’t want to look stupid.

    I could reach out to someone I haven’t seen in ages, but they’ll think I’m weird.

    When you’re alone with your thoughts you’re bound to come across a lot of bullshit that simply doesn’t make sense - except to keep you aligned with your current perception of reality. I’m learning to be honest with myself about my attachment to the way things are vs. the way they could be, if only I’d get out of my own way.

What do you find worth noticing these days?

The Beauty of Being A Beginner

I’m not good at this. But I’m going to try it anyway.

I don’t know where to find that. But I don’t mind looking.

I don’t know anything about this. But I can find out.

I’ve never done it before. But let’s see how it goes.

I don’t think I can pull this off alone. Can you help me?

Starting at zero can be deflating for anyone, especially artists of a certain age who have already been through the ringer and have the scars to show for it. But making any sort of lasting impact usually requires a leveling-up leap we don’t feel 100% ready for.

Whether it’s learning a new skill, starting a new job, or attempting a new approach in relationships I try to remember the following:

  1. When you’re taking a risk and starting something new, any bit of progress is a 100% improvement.

  2. When you’re at the starting line, the first step is the only step that counts.

  3. Being humbled brings us back to our humanity, driving us to take a more compassionate perspective toward ourselves and others.