Step 2: Turtle Steps
This is a phrase used by the marvelous Martha Beck. This simple idea has transformed my life. In her book Finding Your Own North Star—Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live, Martha Beck defines a "turtle step" as her "label for the largest possible task that your essential self can do easily. The last word—easily—is very, very important. … Even on a bad day, when you contemplate your turtle steps, your immediate, genuine gut reaction should be, "Oh, yeah, sure. I can do that."
For example, I've been talking a big game about starting yoga classes. For months. OK, years. So what was stopping me? Good question. Before I could take a yoga class, there were a couple of small, yet vitally important turtle steps I needed to take … (1) Buy some clothes suitable for an exercise class, and (2) Find a yoga class.
- (1) Now this is not an empty "I don't have a thing to wear" claim. I threw out all my exercise clothes a couple of years ago when the realist in me figured that if I hadn't worn them in over five years, chances were pretty good that they weren't going to see the light of day for the foreseeable future. Also, to be frank, had I kept them and worn them, people would have assumed I was auditioning for a sequel to Fame. Quick fashion tip here—be discriminating in your use of legwarmers.
- (2) You need to know where you're headed if you're going to have any chance of getting there. The chances of me walking out of my apartment and stumbling across a yoga class are pretty slim.
Although these steps may sound trivial, unless I take them, the lotus position is going to continue to elude me.
So when you've got your passion list together, go back over it and break down every item on the list into turtle steps. By that I mean every step you need to take to make that thing happen.
For me, a first turtle step of browsing the Internet for local yoga classes was something I could accomplish easily. As a result, my fingers have become really quite flexible.
Step 3: Accountability
When I used to beat myself up about lack of willpower, procrastination, etc., I may as well have added "breathing" to the list. If you have any doubt about the universality of procrastination, make a point to watch Ellen DeGeneres' fabulous comedy routine on the subject.
You need a support network to hold you accountable because you simply aren't qualified to do it yourself. Don't beat yourself up about it or think that you can because you can't. It's called "Loving What Is."
So, choose a valued friend or join a local group who are pursuing the same goals or hire yourself a life coach. When choosing a friend or life coach, make sure you choose someone with that special combination of cheerleader and BS detector who will call it like it is. You don't want someone who thinks that it's kinder to sugarcoat it rather than—God forbid—blow your excuses wide open and keep you on track.
So, if you're really ready to claim the life you were meant to live in all its multicolor glory, start with Passion, take some Turtle Steps, and make sure you have someone around to hold you Accountable. Chances are you won't recognize yourself next year!