I had a brief conversation recently with a woman who, when she found out what I did for a living, told me she was interested in reinventing herself. It was clear she really wanted a new career, but when I asked what actions she’d taken thus far to launch one, she instead responded with a list of the difficulties she faced (out of work for several years, money troubles, tree fell in her yard due to Hurricane Sandy, etc., etc.). The bottom line: she hadn’t taken any action because she felt stymied by her problems.
Having been through a number of challenges myself in previous reinventions (including having so little money that I couldn’t pay my rent for four months), I can relate when someone talks about the trials they face. However, when a person gives me a long list of problems and mentions no corresponding actions to solve them, I know I am hearing that most toxic of things in reinvention: an excuse.
Many people come to me thinking their situation is somehow different from everyone else’s and, as a result, much more difficult to resolve. But over my past ten years as a coach I’ve heard pretty much every problem someone can face in trying to transform their lives–and to be blunt, no one’s problems are unique. Somewhere, sometime, somebody else had the same problem and discovered how to solve it successfully. When we let go of the idea that we are the only person in the world who is facing a particular issue, we can begin to find solutions.
I realized that while my acquaintance wanted to reinvent herself, she actually wasn’t willing, and the two are quite different. Wanting is a feeling which, by nature is passive, but willingness is what prompts you to action because it taps into the power of choice.
Once you unhook wanting from willing in your mind, you can realize that desire in the moment is really not necessary to motivate you to take action to accomplish your goals. Let’s face it, no matter how excited you are about a project (like reinvention) or how necessary it is (like retirement planning), there is always going to be some aspects you just won’t want to do. In reinvention, it may be networking, researching, practicing your pitch, or working a temp job to bring in cash (as I did when I ran out of money for rent). With retirement planning, maybe it’s organizing ten years’ worth of paperwork, finding a financial advisor, or making the tough choices between today’s spending and tomorrow’s savings.
The bottom line is the same: if you sit around waiting for desire to strike, you could wait forever.
But even though you may not want to do something, you can still choose to do it–and that is what willingness is about. You can choose to do activities that move you forward, even when they seem boring, scary, or hard. You can choose to find a way to solve the problems in your path because you know ultimately it will lead you to your goal.
So take a moment and ask yourself what I asked my acquaintance: “You want reinvention, but are you willing?” If so, then take heart from Law 3 in my book, The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention–progress begins when you stop making excuses–and know that as you choose to take action despite your fears, solutions will appear and the pathway to your goal will unfold!
So what’s been holding you back from your reinvention? What are you now willing to do in order to overcome it and really get moving? Let me know!