Hi there. Nice to see you again.
Tell me, do you know any doers? You know, people who you turn to when things need doing.
Some people are doers, but they might not necessarily think very much before doing. Other people are thinkers, so much so that they never actually get around to the doing part.
There’s this song in Hamilton where Aaron Burr tells Hamilton to, “Talk less, smile more.” In other words, don’t rock the boat, and don’t make enemies. Don’t put yourself out there, and don’t put your neck on the line...or at least that’s where I’m going with that for the purposes of today.
When it comes to professionalism, sure. That makes sense. It’s a balance between sharing your voice...and keeping your head down. At least if you want to keep that job.
But when it comes to making your own way, to accomplishing what you want to accomplish in life, it’s often the opposite:
Talk more, smile less. In other words, stop dreaming so much and start doing more.
I’m a doer. When my high school science teacher heard I was moving to New York to become a personal trainer, he said to my mom, “She just goes out there and does it, huh?”
This is quite true. Not 100%, but, you know, never speak in absolutes. And, I mean, I’ve yet to build my Oprah world-dominating empire, so I definitely haven’t gone out and done everything that popped into my brain. But, in general, when I set my mind on something, I figure out how to make it happen – or at least some perhaps slightly more practical version of it.
I’m also a thinker. I could float in a happy idea-filled bubble forever. So, when I do something, I’ve already spent a long time thinking about it first. In short, I try to find a happy medium between impulsive action and debilitating analysis.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day, and she told me about a group that she wants to start. I was ready to cheerlead her to the top when she said something like, “I’m just focusing on putting the intention and energy out there.”
In short, she was waiting for them to come to her.
You might be thinking, “But wait! What about that Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams?!”
Well, okay, I hear that. But think again about the message of that film: If you build it, they will come.
If you build it.
You have to build it.
If you don’t build it, they don’t come. You think a bunch of famous ball-playing spirits would have walked through those cornfields sans baseball field? Heck no! Why would they walk through random cornfields? No, they were waiting for that field. So Kevin Costner built it.
This is what I wanted to say to my friend. Or something more blunt, such as, “Girl, you can put intentions and energy out there to your soul’s content. But you probably won’t be any closer to having a group.”
I wanted to say, “If you want to get shit done, you have to take action.”
But I couldn’t say that to her. She was sharing her vulnerability and her fears about putting herself out there...and I got that. That’s super hard. But it's necessary.
If you have a dream, or a goal, you have to do.
I definitely used to be less of a doer. I spent so much time floating in my internal bubble – and not enough time feeling ballsy – that I didn’t always take active steps toward things I wanted to do. But, more and more, I realized that:
Taking just one or two steps forward sets you in motion.
Nothing lands in your lap, as lovely as that would be.
Everyone else feels vulnerable, just like you do, so you might as well be ballsy. What have you got to lose other than maybe a little dignity, very short-term?
Dreaming can be glorious. I’m an idealist, so I get lost in dream-like fancies at least 20 times a day. But I don’t want to spend my life just thinking. I want to think about possibilities, let them simmer, add some spices here and there, let them simmer some more, adjust to taste, and then, when it seems to make intuitive and at least somewhat practical sense, construct some sort of plan of action and take a first step.
Now, yes: I’ve abandoned many paths I laid out for myself. That’s part of the process. Maybe you realize along the way that the goal doesn’t align enough with your values, or with your other goals in life. Or maybe something happens that knocks you off that path, for whatever reason.
The point is this:
Sometimes you won’t know you don’t want that path until you start walking on that path.
Plus, you can always adjust your route along the way. I don’t know about you, but I would rather start and try than wonder “what if” for the rest of my life.
So what did I say to my friend?
“It sounds like you have the passion and so many wonderful intentions about this group!”
“I’m with you. It can feel really challenging – and vulnerable – to put yourself out there.”
“But you need to. If you want to share your amazing self and the incredible gifts that you have to offer – if you want to create a group as meaningful as the one in your mind – you need to get your message out there. Maybe you start a Meetup group, or post on Eventbrite...and then you talk to everyone you know about this group. Word of mouth spreads quickly, if there’s something of value – and you have something of value. It might take time, and that’s normal. But I can tell from listening to you speak about this that this is something that you need to do. So do it! Go do it. And let me know how I can help.”
Or something to that effect.
I did something: I put it out there. And so did she, by taking a first step toward her goal the following day.
Last week, I spent time with a colleague, who said, “I’ve already done everything in my bucket list! Now I’m just enjoying what comes next.”
You know, it’s funny. My first thought was, “Holy smokes – I want to be you. How amazing that you have no bucket list items left! You just went out and did them all.”
But my husband, D, replied with, “So...she doesn’t have any goals? She needs to put some more goals out there for herself.”
And a good friend of mine, who spent the past few years doing things that she’s wanted to do for a long time, put it like so: “There’s no bucket list: There’s only life.”
All three of these people are what I would call doers – very thoughtful doers. Yet they all have very different perspectives when it comes to bucket lists:
One person no longer has one, because she did it all.
One person always has one, because it drives him toward his larger life goals.
And one person doesn’t have one, because she thinks life is too short to not act now.
I love this so much. It's such a glorious example of you do you.
I do hope you keep dreaming and aspiring. Those are so important. And, along with that, I also hope you keep acting on those thoughts that ignite your passions. I hope you think – but I also hope you do. Because, especially today, the world needs more thoughtful doers.
Keep smiling and keep talking.
That same colleague who crossed off all of her bucket list items left me with words that I’ve been thinking about ever since:
“Nothing is really that difficult. You just do it.”
How about you? Are you a doer, or a thinker, or both? Do you have a bucket list? What are your aspirations – and how do you move toward them? Or why don’t you?
Thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.