Every year at this time I meet with a group of people to talk about regrouping for the second half of the year. This year is unusual because the mid-year point also appears to be a real turning point in the pandemic journey we’ve all been on. Here in Vermont, we reached the level of vaccination (80%) in which nearly all restrictions have been dropped. So we can now envision new possibilities for moving forward that were not there when we started the year. We often think of possibilities as a good thing: the possibility of travel, the possibility of live music, the possibility of human, rather than virtual, contact.
But there is a downside to possibilities. More possibilities make it harder to know where to focus our energy. We have to choose what is truly important and leave behind ideas, projects and plans that are attractive (at least for the time being). If we don’t make the difficult choices about what we’ll do and not do, we run the risk of taking on too much and spreading ourselves too thin. You only have so much time and so much energy. If you try to devote energy to too many things it gets disbursed and you make no real progress on anything.
Sometimes you have an idea for something new and the possibility of that idea is very exciting. But many ideas start out very vague: I want to travel, I want to go back to school, I want to do something artistic, I want to start my own business. So how do you move from something which is vague to something which is clear and specific? If you can develop some clarity you have a launch pad and a target. You know where you are, where to point yourself and where you are trying to go. That’s wonderful! You can make changes along the way but you have a vision of what it is you need to do and now you can devote your energy to making that vision a reality. Go for it!
But what if you can’t get clarity? You have the idea. You believe it is important. But it’s just not coming together. It’s not taking shape. It’s a seed, but you aren’t clear what it will sprout into.
Well, in that case, go ahead and get started. Get started without clarity. Take some small steps (Kaizen). Talk to people, do some research, investigate, check things out, and, if possible, try something out in real life. Be like a cook who wants to make a stew, but doesn’t know exactly what she’s trying to make. Just start cooking and tasting. Cooking and tasting. Add a little pepper or a few more carrots. “OK, this isn’t quite what I was looking for.” No problem. Throw it in the compost and start over. Be willing to fail. Be open to learning. Don’t wait till you have a precise recipe. Make the recipe as you cook.
As you move forward into the second half of the year here are two guidelines:
- Don’t spread yourself too thin, and
- Get started, with or without clarity
Take some time in the next few days to step back and see where you’ve been so far this year. And then ask yourself what’s truly important for you to do before you wake up and it’s 2022.
And then jump in and start doing it.
Take your doubts, reservations, uncertainty and low self-esteem with you.
Leave behind your desire to have a plan that’s all mapped out and set aside all those attractive possibilities that look good, but, just didn’t make the cut.