One of the reasons it took me 20 years to make a consistent effort toward my Big Dream (Life After Tampons) is because I didn't understand that you don't need a fully-formed idea to begin.
In fact, I found just the opposite. I found that, once I began with a "kinda sorta" idea of what I wanted to do and PUT IT OUT THERE into the actual universe, the feedback I received provided all the clues I needed to make my "next steps."
This is the last of our three-part series on "How to Get Unstuck." In Part 1, we talked about giving ourselves permission to move forward. Permission-giving, in this sense though, is not just an intellectual exercise.
When we give ourselves permission to move forward, we allocate time, money, energy and other resources that we need to reach our objectives. In other words, you register for classes, coaches and other expert advice. You invest in art supplies, equipment and whatever else you need to give yourself a REAL shot at changing your life.
In Part 2 of our series, I shared with you about how to turn your fear into fuel for the journey. If you are curious about this, take a look at that piece.
In this last part of our monthly workshop, I want to suggest an idea that might seem outrageous at first, but, stay with me -- because this really REALLY works.
The secret to getting started at long last is to CELEBRATE HALF-ASSERY.
Get used to the idea of throwing half-formed ideas out there. Get curious about what happens when you experiment a bit with your idea.
When you Celebrate Half-Assery, you look at everything new you try through the lens of celebration. You HONOR YOURSELF for trying.
Then, after you throw a cupcake party for yourself, you look at your results.
Life After Tampons is NOT the first blog that I wrote. I actually had FIVE training-bra blogs/ideas before this one.
Training Bra Blog/Idea #1: I started with a Twitter account called "Fifty Chicks." Since I was just 49 then and on a personal pilgrimage to take a meaningful turn in my own life, I got an idea to interview 50 older women about turning 50. Get it? Ha, 50 women, 50 chicks. About turning 50?
Pretty silly, right?
Well, I wasn't really into that project from the start. I only sort of half-assed interviewed one person and I got really really bored with the idea. I didn't really care about anyone else's experience. I wanted to just create my own, sorta freestyle.
Training Bra Blog/Idea #2: Then, I got an idea for a fusion personal/business blog called Fairy Brandmother. My idea there was to combine my 30-years of marketing experience with some kind of mystical, spiritual, wise woman site. It would be helping women find their personal brands and use those to create their own legacies. (I still do that work, by the way, I just let go of the tacky Disney-name that didn't suit my own brand (which is "Sassy, Soulful Strategies for High Impact Results.")
About this time, I took a new COMPLETELY HORRID new job. This job was EXTREMELY AWFUL and out of alignment with both my gifts and my values. But, it gets darker before the light, and this was just about the professional bottom of my life.
One thing that was really really good about this job, though, is that I was responsible for all social media for this little firm.
And I had no clue what I was doing -- but I did know how to get one.
I had to practice.
So every morning, before work, I showed up at the local Starbucks at 5:30 a.m. and worked for an hour and a half practicing. I set up a free blog and then I learned about Facebook and Twitter and I set it all up and hooked it all together.
Training Bra Blog/Idea #3: And then I started blogging. And the name of that blog was Flourish. And I LOVED the name of that blog. And I LOVE that that is really what I teach at LAT.
But, it wasn't exactly the end game I wanted. I knew that I wanted to teach people how to flourish and thrive, but it didn't say enough about BEAUTIFUL YOU!
And I knew I needed that.
But, by now, I knew the basics of blogging and I needed to know that, of course.
OK, so we're still celebrating half-assery, but now I'm getting more strategic. Then, it occurs to me that I should call a focus group of my really savvy biz girlfriends and ask them what they thought I should do.
So, I made treats. And a beautiful luncheon. And I invited six or seven really brilliant girlfriends over to jam. (That was an awesome afternoon, by the way. Maybe soon I'll teach you how to do that.)
OK, so my friends gathered round and they all talked about me in front of me. And one of my friends, Elaine, said, "You know, Jen, when I think of you and your life, I see all these beautiful little vignettes that don't seem to connect at first, but do when you look deeper. It makes me think of little sterling charms. And charm bracelets are very "in" right now, so I'm thinking you should have something like that."
Training Bra Blog/Idea #4: And so, Plucky Charmed was formed. This was a blog where I just sort of riffed about life. And none of it had to connect, because that was the whole point. The tag line for that blog was "A Swarm of Boy-kin and a Smidgeon of Grace."
"Boykin" is my maiden name and I ended up with six sons and The Italian, which makes for a LOT of 'boy kin.' And, the smidgeon of Grace is a play on the idea of a spiritual undertone and my baby daughter who died, whose name was Grace.
Do you see how funky and sort of kitchsy and somewhat tacky a lot of this is?
Still half-assery. Still throwing my stuff up on the wall. Still not really having a good direction or plan -- BUT I'M GETTING CLEARER.
I LOVED Plucky Charmed. It just wasn't easy to explain to others what it meant. And I knew that if I were to be successful at my entrepreneurial adventure, you needed to be clear about what I did (duh!)
Training Bra Blog/Idea #5: About this time, I was thinking a lot about courage and -- let no one say that making a bold move forward at midlife does not take Courage!!
I've also spent the last 30 years and more than a HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS on personal development stuff, and I loved the phrase "Courage to Change," so I thought, "I wonder if a URL with that is available?"
And so I looked.
And, of course, it wasn't.
But there were all sorts of other "courage" versions.
One of them was "courage to change (dot) u s" and that one kept sticking with me and sticking with me and sticking with me...
And then I thought, COURAGE TO CHANGE (dot) US -- which is the only thing we CAN change.
And I loved couragetochange.us. Sort of. About five people read it regularly. My mom. My Aunt Susie. My fella.
But it still wasn't perfect. It wasn't cohesive.
On the one hand, it felt too -- well -- Massengill Disposable Douche, if you know what I mean. It was too "hearts and flowers and costumed geese decorating the kitchen."
On the other hand, my tagline was, "You'll Thank Me for Kicking Your Ass," which is ABSOLUTELY the fun way I would talk. But the hearts and flowers coupled with the kick-ass tagline created BRAND CONFUSION -- and Brand Confusion is the "death knell" for business growth.
But, I KNOW I'm getting closer. A LOT closer.
Because now all these half-assed ideas are teaching me things!
I know that our work takes courage and I know that I want to teach people how to flourish. And I know that my tribe is women who are spiritually and creatively open and I know that our work has something to do with identifying our core personal brand and I know that I want to work just with women. And I know that its style will be plucky. But it will also be "charmed," in that it will be charming and adorable (age-appropriate style) and it will be charmed like spiritual.
Now, over on the sidebar to couragetochange.us, I had a little personal intro block. There was a silly line drawing of a woman and -- really I didn't know how to do anything super-professional looking -- but it said, "Here at Courage to Change, we seek to answer the question of the ages, 'Is there Life After Tampons?'"
And one night, I'm fast asleep and then I woke up with a JOLT of menopausal insomnia and this one idea kept swarming through my brain:
Life After Tampons -
Life After Tampons -
Life After Tampons . . .
Life. After. Tampons?
"No, It can't be!"
And then I RUSHED to my computer absolutely TERRIFIED that someone else had already thought of it.
But the URL was there and I GRABBED it.
And the NEXT day I called all my best, smartest, truest girlfriends - and a client or two - and asked them,
"Life After Tampons - do I have the stones to name my business Life After Tampons?"
And half said "YES!" and half said "NO - that's completely awful."
And I sat with it. And I got still with it. And in my heart of hearts I KNEW I was at the center of the journey.
I KNEW that I was where I was supposed to be.
But it took a LOT of Half-Assery.
Training Bra Blog #1: 50 Chicks, where I learned I wanted a community of women at midlife
Training Bra Blog #2: Fairy Brandmother, where I learned that part of my work was going to be helping my clients find their Unique Wisdom Brand
Training Bra Blog #3: Flourish, where I learned that that's what I teach AND where I learned the rudiments of blogging and social media
Training Bra Blog #4: Plucky Charmed, where I learned the application of the business tool of Focus Groups AND I learned that my work was going to be soulful and whimsical and somewhat magical
Training Bra Blog #5: Courage To Change - where I learned that a big part of what I was going to teach was FEARLESSNESS and CHANGE - AND that I was going to give myself permission to "out" my own three decades journey into spiritual/personal development and recovery.
FULLY er, DEVELOPED BLOG: And finally, LIFE AFTER TAMPONS!!!
. . . which is now, just 18 months later is one of the FASTEST growing websites on the Internet for women at midlife. Indeed, THOUSANDS of women every month who live in more than 147 countries gather at our site to get the help they need to make the changes they want to see in their lives.
And it began with a willingness to show my ass. Again and again and again I just kept trying something new - and LISTENED DEEPLY - to the feedback of each trial.
And each half-assed trial led me to the next. You might say that the first half-assed idea resulted in the second QUARTER-ASSED idea which led to the third EIGHTH-ASSED idea which led to the fourth SIXTEENTH-ASSED idea which led to the fifth THIRTY-SECONDth ASSED idea.
And now, we are at the final (as of now) idea of all and IT IS ONLY 1/64th ASSED!!! In other words, Life After Tampons is 99.36% FULL ON COMPLETELY awesome!
And that will happen for you, too.
Here's what you need to do:
Pick a starting point. AND START.
In the comments section below, cut and paste the following Self-Commitment Covenant and fill in the blanks with your own personal ideas:
" I ______(insert name), desire to create a ______(noun)___________ of _________(insert audience)___________. I want to share these things with other people: _________(thing 1) and _____________ (thing 2) and _____________ (thing 3)."
To do that, I am willing to try ___________ and _______________ even though I don't really know how to do that. But I will learn. I can start with ___________ and __________."
Okay, that's it, love. Share your beautiful dream with us.