Sometimes, “Getting No-Where” is Part of the Process.
Ever have an hour, or a day, or a week, or heaven forbid a year, where you just couldn’t seem to make any progress on your goals? Martin likes to say—You have to get the no-where out of the way before you can even start.
I like to say—Sometimes you just have to steep in “ getting no-where.”
There is no end of things that can hold us back and sometimes one of the first positive steps in moving forward is to recognize that we’re not ready, not yet, not now. If we try to push forward and just “do it” in this stage, we often fail at reaching our goals, get discouraged, and worse may give up altogether. Sometimes we have limiting beliefs about what is possible or even permissible for ourselves to do. We may have hopelessness from previous failed attempts, or negative messages from people around us that we’ve internalized. Moving forward can require recognizing and challenging old beliefs, developing a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence, or getting involved at whatever level we are presently at.
I experienced a “get no-where day” recently. I had stories to write, emails demanding attention, workshops to prepare—but I had no focus. I couldn’t get anything done. I finally remembered that continuing to try to push forward was going to get me “no-where” except more stuck. I took a cup of tea into the bath, then a nap, and when I woke it had cleared and I was productive again. That one was relatively simple and short.
I had to steep in “getting no-where” at a much deeper emotional level when we learned that Gardens of Eagan was on the MinnCan pipeline route. I knew that doing nothing meant the end the Gardens of Eagan as we knew it, but the idea of formally intervening as a legal party against Koch Industries was absolutely terrifying. I spent days on “getting the no-where” out of the way. I’d sit down to figure out a plan of action or write out why the MinnCan pipeline could not cross Gardens of Eagan and five hours later I’d still have a blank piece of paper. I’d make phone calls and hang up before anyone answered. I was even useless in the field.
Finally I set myself to the writing task of asking what I believed that was making it feel so scary and impossible. Then it poured out! It didn’t take more than an hour to uncover childhood beliefs and messages about inferiority and powerlessness. I quickly saw that I was giving my power away, and if I continued to do so, a crude oil pipeline would be crossing our farm. I made the decision to remind myself that the truth was that I had enough power, enough experience, enough support, enough of everything I needed and that this challenge was a rare opportunity. That was the end of my “getting no-where” on the pipeline. While I sometimes experienced fear during the legal process, I had decided it didn’t have to mean run, it could mean fight.
Exercise: Write about what you want to accomplish. Describe what your life will be like in the future when your goal has been reached. What will it look like, who will be there, where will you be? What change will take place?
Ask yourself what your largest emotional barriers are to accomplishing it. What are you most afraid of, or what emotion do you want to avoid feeling? What terrible thing could happen in the process and does it actually matter? How likely is it? How serious is it? What do you need to believe about yourself or the world to make your goal happen?
And remember—sometimes you just need a bath, tea, and a nap . . .
© Atina Diffley 2012