We’re still in January, considered by many to be the goal-setting month. Are you feeling bold right now? Have you got your sights on something big and already taking action?
Maybe not. Perhaps you’re feeling lethargic. You’ve started years in the past with big dreams, only to lose steam when the busy-ness and challenges of life kick in. When you reflect on failures it’s easy to feel defeated before you begin.
We’ve all been there.
Achieving something new, big or different pushes you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we’re up for it, sometimes we’re not.
So, what do you do if you want to achieve something real – a permanent, significant improvement – but you’re just not up for ‘storming the gates’?
There’s another way: Sneaking up on success!
Sneaking up on success has two important virtues:
It circumvents your inner gremlins.
Whenever we set out to achieve something big, something truly outside our zone of comfort, internal alarm bells go off. This instinctive reaction is universal.
Back in the days when humans were prey and had to hunt to survive, anything unknown was a potential threat to our survival. Even though circumstances have evolved, we are still wired the same way.
When it comes to goal-setting and achieving, this is important. Regardless of the external barriers you face in getting where you want to go, your inner gremlins are often the biggest hurdle to overcome. So, choosing an approach that doesn’t unduly alarm your gremlins can be a powerfully effective strategy to move forward.
It gives you cover.
When you make a big, bold declaration of a new direction, you’re going to hear from the Peanut Gallery. Friends, colleagues, family members become well-intentioned (or not so much) arm-chair critics that load you up with opinions and advice. The mere act of explaining yourself over and over can trigger those inner gremlins again and you may find yourself sabotaging your own efforts.
Sneaking up on success gives you time to find your way without all the noise. Instead, you have the space to get grounded and perhaps gain some strength and skill in a new arena.
A personal story
I recently had coffee with a former colleague – a wonderful coach and facilitator whom I really respect. He was talking about my writing and what he’s seen me do with my business. He called me a Thought Leader. I laughed. Really?
Four years ago, I started my newsletter and posted the article on LinkedIn. I did this every other week or so for about six months, and then gave up for about a year. My motivation was mostly as a business-building tool.
Then two-and-a-half years ago I made a commitment to myself to begin again. My goals were subtly different. Of course, I wanted to grow my business and online presence, but my deeper goal was to share what I know while be authentically, candidly me.
In this age of oversharing and social media, that doesn’t sound like a big deal. But I’m a fairly private person and with the early imprint of being bullied for a whole year in middle school, I continually swing between my desire to learn and grow and contribute in a big way, and my need to hide and stay safe. Letting my real, private thoughts be seen was terrifying at first. It was a private act of courage that left me shaking and exhausted.
Then I realized something incredibly freeing: Nobody cares!
Seriously. Everyone is out there fighting for attention. Whether I put my articles out there or not wouldn’t make a speck of difference to anyone. And that gave me cover. I let go of (most of) the fear, and instead started to really enjoy thinking deeply about what I believe, and how to share it clearly in a way that would be genuinely useful to people. I found my voice on the page.
Around eighteen months ago I submitted a couple articles to Huffington Post and they welcomed me as one of their business bloggers. I’ve been writing for them ever since. And on LinkedIn, my preferred platform, I’ve now reached over 1,000 followers. This is still a fly-speck compared to many, but it’s been quite organic. A slow growth that’s come without much effort from me, beyond consistently posting.
A Thought Leader. Hee, hee. Imagine that.
As I continue to work on my first book, all the Gremlins are poking their heads up and showing their teeth again. It doesn't seem to matter that I've worked with thousands of financial professionals over the last fifteen years. Out they come and…They’re pretty viscous:
Who the hell do you think you are? You don’t have a degree in this. You didn’t run a corporation. Who gives a crap what you think about sales and relationships and emotional intelligence. You’ll get skewered – if anyone bothers to read it. You’ll go in debt. You’ll… Oh, shut up.
Sigh. The gremlins will always be there, but I’m better at managing them now.
Every once in a while, I feel big and bold. When those times comes, I love them and take full advantage to leap forward. The rest of the time, I fly under the radar. I’m still moving forward, just sneaking up on success. That works just fine, too.
If you have a particular goal in mind but you freeze up at the thought of 'really going for it', step back and build some safety and cover into your ambition. Look at ways you can sneak up on success. You'll be amazed at how comfortable it can be to get there!
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Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.