When I look back at my career over the past three decades, some important themes emerge.
One is how I react when confronted with a new idea.
Unfortunately, I spent many years shooting down great ideas.
Somehow, I was conditioned to think they didn’t apply to me.
Or they’d be impossible to implement in my business.
Do you do that too? If so, don’t be embarrassed. Most of us do!
We expect good ideas to be perfectly customized to our situation.
So when they’re not ready-made and fully cooked, we dismiss them.
But that’s a mistake.
In today’s podcast episode, I share how you can open yourself up to transformative ideas, practice detachment, and take inspired action.
The notes that follow?are?a very basic,?unedited?summary of the show.?There’s?a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can?subscribe in iTunes?to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
Seven years ago, a colleague told me he was taking a three-month sabbatical and suggested I do the same.
I still remember my initial reaction: “Are you crazy?”
Here’s what raced through my mind:
- Of course he can take three months off. He’s single with no kids.
- He has rental income from that commercial building he owns.
- He’s got no worries or problems.
- He lives in a part of the country where there’s lots to see and do.
- What would my wife think? What would my parents think?
- What in the world would I do with myself? I’d be bored after two weeks!
We shoot down good ideas with this kind of thinking all the time.
Out of every 100 good ideas we hear, only a handful will be a great fit right out of the box.
But that doesn’t mean we should automatically dismiss the remaining ideas. I estimate that about half of them will have a valuable nugget that’s worth considering.
Condition Yourself to React Differently
I’m conditioning myself to react differently to ideas, even the really wild ones.
When I hear, read, or see something interesting, I stop myself and think about it.
I try not to shoot it down immediately.
More specifically, I ask myself these questions:
- What’s the core principle here?
- If I stripped away the veneer…what’s lies beneath that I could apply?
- What about that idea could I use or borrow?
- How could I modify it so it would work for my situation?
- Could I try a simpler version of that?
- Could I try something similar but with a different service I’m currently offering?
- Could I take a small step this week in that direction?
- What if I did the opposite?
- What if I broke it down into steps and implemented it in phases?
- What if I tested a small version of that?
- How could I mitigate the risk of doing something like that?
- What am I afraid of?
I’m making progress by asking myself these questions.
For example, last fall I had a conversation with my good friend, and he told me that he was taking another sabbatical.
Rather than dismiss this idea, I asked myself, “How could I do something similar?”
And you know what? This internal conversation led to an idea for implementing something similar.
Detachment and Inspired Action
This leads me to another insight.
A few weeks ago, I came across a book in my office about financial prosperity along with a set of notes I’d taken 10 years ago summarizing the book’s key points.
Here’s a portion of what I wrote:
Be detached from your desire. You can’t need it! When you need it, the belief is that you’re not complete without it, so it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have to let go of any addiction to the end result…or it happening in a certain way at a certain time. Give yourself permission to relinquish control and be open to inspiration. Tell yourself that it would be wonderful if I had it in my life, but it won’t be devastating if I don’t get it. It must come from a place of peace. Focus on taking inspired action—act on my nudges and inspiration.
I have three observations on this note:
First, while I understood the concept of detachment, I definitely wasn’t practicing it at the time.
Second, “inspired action” was a new concept for me then. Inspired action is the idea that when you practice detachment, you start seeing opportunities more clearly.
Looking back, I can see that my business really took off a few later when I started taking inspired action. I started paying attention to random thoughts, nudges, and events that were pointing me in one direction or another.
Ironically, one element that helped get me there was exhaustion. I was too tired to keep swimming upstream, so I capitulated and found peace. This more relaxed state of mind opened me up to pay more attention to those random thoughts, nudges and events.
Third, it’s easy to get hung up on timing—about when things must happen. Not everything will happen on our preferred schedule.
This idea of trying to control every aspect of our lives is something I think about often.
It reminds me of what long-distance hikers have to deal with, such as those who travel the Appalachian Trail.
The Appalachian Trail is 2,200 miles long and spans North Georgia to Central Maine. It takes about six months to hike.
Of course, you can’t carry everything with you that you’ll need for the entire six-month trip.
Therefore, you have to plan strategically and have supplies mailed to post offices located along the trail.
Which led me to this meditation from The Language of Letting Go by Melodie Beattie:
We can trust that all we need on this journey shall come to us. We will not get all we need for the entire journey today. We shall receive today’s supplies today, and tomorrow’s supplies tomorrow. We were never intended to carry supplies for the entire journey. The burden would be too heavy, and the way was intended to be light.
Trust in yourself. We do not have to plan, control, and schedule all things. The schedule and plan have been written. All we need to do is show up.
I often get anxious about all the things I need to do.
And when I think of a goal I want to reach—and I see how far away it is from where I am today—I can get stressed, anxious and discouraged.
But this little meditation reminds us all that we can’t carry all of our supplies with us.
Besides, the journey isn’t meant to be a burden. It’s mean to be light, fun and fulfilling.
You don’t need to plan, control and schedule every little thing.
Yes, you need a rough plan. You need some idea of where you want to go.
But then you have to trust that the details will unfold as you keep moving forward in faith.
Enjoy the Journey
My message today is a simple:
- Be clear about what you want.
- Do the very best you can with what you’ve got.
- Remember to pack light and enjoy the journey.
- Trust that the right ideas, insights, tools, people and support will come to you when you need them most.
Once you’ve done all this, you can let go.
Because God and/or the Universe rewards those who do their part and trust in a higher power.
By the way… whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:
1. Grab a free copy of my book.
It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here
2. Join my implementation program and be a case study.
I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just email me at [email protected] and put “Case Study” in the subject line.
3. Work with me privately.
If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.