This morning a friend reluctantly admitted, "I don't know if my Magna Goal is big enough." After pressing a little deeper, I learned that she didn't actually want to start her original Magna Goal of starting a nutrition coaching business. She felt like she should, but she wasn't excited about it. She wondered if she could use her Magna Planner to focus on building her garden instead. Of course! What matters is that it matters to you first. Then, you can get started.
I took a deep breath and told her a story: When I first started with my current voice teacher, he asked me, "Do you want to be a singer?" This man is 85-years-old, sharp as a tack, and has taught some of today's most successful opera singers. He hadn't even heard me sing yet and I was rightfully intimidated. With my tall frame slouched and a sheepish half-smile, I launched into "well, I think so...I paid for all this school, so I feel like I should, but I don't know because now I have a baby and it's hard, but I really want to improve...."
"Let me stop you there. I can't work with that."
Oh crap! Well, uh.....
I threw my shoulders back, took another deep breath and exhaled a resounding, "Yes. I do."
"Ok! Then let's get to work."
And he never brought it up again. Every lesson after that I walked into that studio wanting to be a singer. I had to train my brain to push away that wishy-washy "well, I think so...it would be nice..." attitude and instead claim my goal. If I were honest, I was just avoiding setting myself up for disappointment and failure by pretending I didn't really want it. But by training my brain to be ok with really wanting to sing, and most importantly, wanting and willing to do the work, I began to witness my own progress and believe that I could.
You see, no one can make you want to do something. I can't make you want to achieve a Magna Goal, or to even just make progress. But once you do, I can show you that you can and give you the tools to get there. I will be your loudest cheerleader, most relentless accountability partner, and proudest friend. And you'll be the one that gets to look back at what you accomplished or created. My friend will get to harvest her garden and sigh with pride that she got it done. That sense of accomplishment just may inspire her to take a bigger leap with the next project.
If you're not there yet, that's ok. But if you'd like to get there, you'll have to make the choice and train your brain. Push away the self-protective mindsets and embrace the scary, exciting ones. Once we believe that our minds are still capable of growth, life gets a lot more fun. And guess what. Yesterday was #trainyourbrainday!
Further Reading: Willpower: Train Your Brain to Do the Things That Matter by Jesse Wood
I love how the author doesn't frame "willpower" as a scary or intimidating concept we're constantly fighting against. We can access and replenish our willpower with practice and grace for ourselves. Here are some noteworthy excerpts from the post:
"One thing McGonigal notes is that often we fail at our goals because they are not truly important to us. If your goals aren’t aligned with what matters most to you, with how you want to impact the world, yourself, and the people around you, then it can be excruciating to find the willpower to pursue those goals. So, the first step is to ask yourself what matters most to you, and use this to summon your willpower and apply it to the things you care about.When struggling with self-control, I try to pull myself out of the moment. I view the big picture, and I remember how today’s goals will help me get there."
"You will not fail miserably if you take it easy on yourself. You can be compassionate with yourself and still achieve your goals."
"We must stop shaming ourselves into accomplishing our goals, because as much as we think it may work, in the end, it doesn’t. Or it does work and we’re miserable."
"To me, willpower is relying on your inner strength instead of being scared by it. It’s so tempting to get in our own way of pursuing our goals. Willpower isn’t just finding the strength to do something you want to have done. Willpower is finding the strength to recognize unhealthy thoughts, to be aware of your emotions, your cravings, your desires and goals, to hold all of these things inside yourself, and to find the strength to do the thing you really want to do, to have done, to be the kind of person that you want to be. We all have this strength. It’s just a matter of finding it, training it, and becoming it."