How do you know when you are ready to begin?
It is a question I have been pondering lately as I commence a few new endeavours.
This month I am all in on some biggies!
Here are three that are boosting my spirits in spite of wrapping up a heavy year.
I decided it is time that I learn to skate ski from scratch. As I live in snowy Bend, Oregon, this choice had so much to do with honoring my value of freedom in motion during a COVID year where my access to the downhill slopes are tightly regulated by a parking system too complicated to hack (I’ve tried). With Don as my coach helping me move from Bozo-the-Clown beginner to Flash Gordon on the nordic trails, I am all in to creating a new way to enjoy myself outdoors this winter.
To add to that, I am co-designing and facilitating my first writing course beginning on December 21, 2020 at 12pm PST with my dear friend and colleague Abigail Prout of Spiral Leadership. The course is titled Writing Your Way Home from 2020. Register here to join us.
The other big one this month is that I learned how to follow directions I found on Google for my MacBook Pro, and successfully figured out how to backup and then transfer all my data from one laptop to another without frying either computer. Yay! Yes, it took me an inordinate amount of time, but as I said, I had no idea what I was doing, so what can I expect?
3 NEW BEGINNINGS! Holy shmoly! What the heck am I thinking?!
So as most of us are taking things off our plate heading in the holidays, I am beginning anew in a few ways well ahead of the New Year deadline! #overachiever
With each choice, I had to really check in with myself--
What will a yes to this truly require of me?
Can I swing it, or will this be a one-way trip to Burnoutville?
The latter is surely the outcome when you arrive at your commitment from a place of F.O.G.:
F for Fear
O for Obligation
G for Guilt
= Ugh! Make it stop!
If instead, you are excited, eager, and feel called to be a resounding “Yes!” for the new thing, let that enthusiasm be a tidal wave of good juju energy carrying you forward, through the hardship of the first moments in the journey of your relationship with this choice, whether it is long or short, humbling or validating, arduous or surprisingly easy.
Tucked in the wondering of the question of readiness is another question: What is the value in being new to a thing?
To be a novice--neophyte, novitiate, newbie--you are risking the very likely pain of flailing, falling, and totally failing your first time out the chute, but what you stand to gain far outweighs the risk.
Waiting for you on the other side of the choice to begin is the knowledge that it is possible. To achieve anything remarkable in this life, you must first believe that it is possible, then your choice of action will make it so.
At Meisner Snow Park on a clear Thursday morning, I labored to catch up to Don with arms wagging at my sides. I barely caught myself from gliding into a spread eagle on the packed snow. The critical whispers of my inner asshole amplified in my head mocking my effort as pointless. I did not feel like a natural on Day One.
I reset my thinking and I told myself instead: “You are out here! You are doing it! This is how we learn to do anything. It begins with patience and continues with commitment to keep showing up. Just keep showing up Katie. You got this.”
Lucky for me, my inner goddess is so much wiser and more encouraging, so I continued, relishing the challenge.
I remembered that it is the struggle that imbues us with our strength as we learn to navigate our way forward toward our highest vision of what is possible.
Shunryu Suzuki says in his book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Meditation and Practice, that “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few.”
According to Suzuki, a beginner’s mind is a “Yes!” to creative possibility, while an expert’s mind is a “No!” couched in limitation of logic.
To choose to make a change or begin something new is to have a desire--you can call it a dream or a vision--for an outcome not yet realized, one that lives in possibility. It is holding faithfully to the vision, while taking small but steady action to build the path forward, moving you toward living the dream.
I took up skate skiing, which will give me something to work toward this last winter of COVID (I hope!), and because it is something that I will long enjoy as I grow older (and fitter!) in my mountain town. The choice supports the vision I have for my life as an active outdoor enthusiast well past the time my peers are hanging up their skis. I plan to still be discovering new ways to surprise myself as I take on new challenges and delight in what I can accomplish when I put my heart into it.
CONSIDER THIS . . .
What are you feeling ready to begin this month or this year?
What has being a beginner taught you about yourself?
Is there a dream, a fresh start, that you have been sitting on or actively ignoring from fear, that you can give yourself permission to acknowledge wanting in this moment?
How is this choice to begin a choice to honor who you are?
Katie Post is a certified executive leadership coach, experience facilitator, and writer who specializes in supporting entrepreneurs and emerging leaders define a vision of success that includes connection, authentic expression, and play. Based in Bend, Oregon and working globally from the comfort of her home with kids and dogs near by, Katie lives to play in nature with those she loves. She offers her own brand of leadership development programming to support aspiring, emerging and established leaders as well as one-on-one and group coaching.