Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to make the improbable possible

Music theory by Craig Blackmoore
Music theory, a photo by Craig Blackmoore on Flickr.
If you are like many people that I know and coach, you have ideas about what you'd dream could happen in your life, but you have not yet made the connection to make them happen.  There are opportunities, experiences, jobs, partners, that you haven't pursued - not because you don't want them in your life, but because you cannot envision yourself there.
Remove the obstacle, shrink it substantially in terms of its motivational killing power, by finding out, in detail, what's required to achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve. 
Here's an example:  a high school student is interested in a career in music therapy.  College is still three years away, but she went online and found out the admissions requirements for the program at the college in which she is interested.  She gulped a bit when she digested the size of the list of items she'd need to know well enough to demonstrate.  The education will be the reward for fulfilling the qualifications, to earn the right to be there.
This student is gulping, but she's not stopping.  She's aligning her high school course load to prepare her.  Thank heaven she checked the requirements so early in her high school career, so she will have time to learn what she needs to know.  Music therapy has now made a shift in this student's mind from a fantasy to a goal.
There are so many other examples of individuals making (or not making) the connection with their dreams simply by identifying the requirements:
  • The teenager who envisioned himself a Navy Seal, yet dismissed the idea that he might have to learn to swim.  Really well.  To save his life and the lives of others.  Failure to identify and pursue the required knowledge and skills (not to mention swimming lessons) meant that this young man never joined the Navy, much less the elite Seals.
  • The unemployed adult who fantasized about owning his own business.  He talked to SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and the local office of the SBA (Small Business Administration) to find out what he needed to know to develop his game plan for his business.  He developed his plan and implemented it, and made his dream a reality.
How do you really know whether something is possible for you or not?   Only you can determine whether it is - your best friend might have a vested interest in holding you back, your dad might have preconcieved notions about you from back when you were a surly teen, and your neighbors might only be able to see you as they always see you - as the nice guy who mows his lawn in a checkerboard pattern.  What is possible is more often decided by "want to" rather than "allowed to," "expected to," or "can".
You have to find out what is required, and then determine whether you have the desire to do whatever is necessary to make it happen.  If you find out that you have to be able to stand on your head for 5 minutes straight in order to do what you want to do, you might realize that you aren't interested in working up to that 5-minute headstand.  You make a decision not to go there.  Or you might want the ultimate outcome so badly that you are willing to do ANYTHING that's required to get you there.  When you make this conscious, intentional go or no-go decision you are being active in creating your future.  You're not allowing it to slip through your fingers, or to fall into the hands of circumstance.  You can be choosing to make the improbable possible for you.


Lynn Marie Caissie said...


This is a great blog that I am sending along to my daughter. I have every faith that she will choose well, both to support herself financially and to keep herself happy. But I remember well the unflagging support I received from an aunt when I was in my late teens and early 20s (and she wasn't even a favorite aunt), so I beleive that every bit of encouragement in all its various forms can be significant to the receiver.

Thanks for helping me inspire my daughter.

Julie Poland, certified business coach said...

Lynn Marie -

Thanks for commenting. My husband and I used to have a lot of conversations about fantastic thinking and living on "hopeium" when we were in the throes of helping a young friend of ours navigate those first adult-life decisions. I'm glad the post was useful to you. Have a great day!