I went to bed last night singing the Sesame Street song, “How do you get from here to there?” Don’t ask me where I dredged that up from inside my funny little memory bank, but it came to me as clear as a bell. Don’t remember it? I bet you will when you watch this:
There’s a great lesson in this song, in addition to how cute it is (minus the airplane guy who looks a bit too much like if Hitler had been part of the beatnik era), but I digress.
The lesson is actually profoundly simple. First, determine where you want to go, and then second, determine how you are going to get there. In other words, take the first step. Regardless the goal, literally the only thing any of us can do is take a step in that direction.
That could be physically moving your body toward the goal, or it could be working backwards from said goal and breaking it down into manageable steps that you can then start to accomplish. Either way, nobody gets from “here to there” without taking that first step. Nobody.
Want to have a more satisfying job? The first step is not to storm into your boss’ office and declare that you quit. The first step is to update your resume.
What to find a life partner? The first steps are not to purchase a wedding dress and reserve a venue. It’s to get your online profile in tip top shape, to tell your friends you are looking and to join you in the look, to send out positive, hopeful vibes to the Universe, to open your eyes and be prepared to find someone in an unexpected place and most likely when you aren’t wearing your cutest outfit.
Want to stop drinking? The first step is probably not to spontaneously declare you’re going cold turkey, at least not without some careful planning and a watchful eye. The first step might be to put down the drink you are holding in your hand right now and try to go 30 minutes until you pick it up again. Then see if you can go 30 more.
Want to disrupt your whole life and make a massive shift?
“Yes!,” she said fervently to the Universe.
The first step is not to think you need to go out and secure a publisher for the best selling book you’ve yet to write. Get clear about what you actually want to do and be as specific as you possibly can. Write the first blog post. Sign up for an online course or check out a book from the library about the topic. Ask a mentor to listen to your ideas and help you refine them. Set aside one-two hours/week to dedicate to your new passion project.
In the four days I have been on this retreat, I have shifted my “mission statement” a dozen times. Before coming here, it was basically “helping people pursue passion and overcome failure to find joy on the other side.”
But I had a lightning bolt moment yesterday on my walk. I realized, or it hit me on the head walking past the soybeans on my left and the field filled with big puddles of water on my right, that I want to actually be a “personal systems disruptor.” I want to inspire and motivate people to disrupt their personal systems to find what’s beyond their current reality.
This field, which I have come to think of as “my” soybeans since that grove of trees encircles my two-week home, is where I go every morning to watch the sun rise and every evening to watch it set. It’s at the edge of this field where I sit on a wrought iron chair and contemplate nature and my existence in it and my love for Dr Marry and so much more. And it’s where I take time in the morning and the evening to give thanks for all that I already have and all that is coming. So it’s not surprising to me that my lightening bolt moment, which was, as per usual for me, actually a still, small voice that spoke to me and fluttered my heart into paying attention to it, to hearing it utter my truest desires, happened right next to it.
Pursuing passion is a fine endeavor—it’s part of what I write and speak about because it’s part of my personal quest. But passion is a loaded word that might make some people uncomfortable. It’s too sexual or too intense or too self-consumed for some, particularly many in the upper midwest where passion is not part of the “Scandinavian work ethic” the rest of the country so admires in us.
But if I am a personal systems disruptor, that is a much broader, more open ended descriptor. And interestingly, it feels a lot more gender neutral, leaning toward the masculine, which is often where I am more comfortable anyway. It has movement, energy, ferocity to it. It makes a bolder claim and doesn’t apologize for taking up space.
And yet, as this idea came to me on my walk yesterday, all I could feel was that I want to take my work from inside me, from my heart, and fling it out into the universe. To go from being small to being massive. To move from quiet to loud. To shift from invisible to seen.
But that’s what I want for everyone who desires that, too. I want others to be the size and volume they desire and to move through the world valued and noticed. And I can help people do that.
So, I’m well past my first steps. I’ve been blogging for over a year now. I’ve taken a number of courses and read a ton of books. I’ve given talks and been on podcasts. I’ve attracted and grown an audience.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not the next step to take. Because believe me, I’m not at the end of my path; I’m not even in the middle. I think I might be a metaphorical block from home, and my journey is just getting started.
So I’ve gotten quiet and listened for what the Universe is telling me. I’ve “drawn” my realization from yesterday’s vision (oh dear, I’ve never been so sad at my incredibly inadequate sketching abilities!) and I’ve put it down in this blog.
Today, I’ll take the square, four-mile walk in the other direction to see what that brings to me. And I’ll be on the listen for the still, small voice and on the lookout for the great big signs. But most importantly, I’ll just take one step, and then the next and the next…because I am definitely moving from here to there, and I hope you are, too.
Read Day VI: An interview with Dayna Del Val, the world’s first Personal Systems Disrupter