Is there something you feel you’re meant to do, but you’re afraid your initial efforts won’t be “enough”? I’d like to speak to that today. Here’s a quick story….
Back in 2007, I had this dream of building a website for mothers that would be a powerful instrument for good. I had put together a Word document with the basic website copy and sections all mapped out with little internal hyperlinks, but I also wanted to start dreaming up the look of the homepage. With my non-existent graphic design skills, and a very basic understanding of Word’s auto-shapes, I made this image:
I didn’t know what I was doing, and I certainly didn’t think that would be my finished product, but I needed somewhere to begin. (It makes me smile when I look at it now, as Power of Moms has grown into a vibrant platform that has reached millions worldwide—and LearnDoBecome has even surpassed that.)
I’m not saying I’ve “arrived” or anything, but I’ve learned that in order to begin something meaningful, you don’t have to do everything perfectly from the start. My mom always said, “Begin! The rest is easy.” If there’s a book you’d like to write “someday,” then don’t wait for your life to slow down so you can write it. Just start brainstorming it on a little notepad in the kitchen. While food is heating in the microwave, you can jot down a few great ideas. If there’s a class you’ve been dying to take at the local college, don’t put it off, assuming that someday you’ll have more time to think about it. Start a little file folder where you can collect information about the times that the class is offered, who teaches it, what supplementary reading materials are available, etc.
Or, if you’re exciting about building a STEP Command Central, you can use whatever you HAVE as a starting point. My first one was built using a card table and some random boxes and file holders I’d collected over the years. (I didn’t even have four matching frames for our children’s photos hanging above it….)
Yes, it’s not the right time for “everything” right now. But there are too many things that we put off because the tasks seem overwhelming. If there is something you know you’re meant to do, and you know it will add richness and purpose to your life, and you know it will make a difference to others, then my wholehearted recommendation—offered with much love—is to BEGIN.
Here’s some ways our Steps to Everyday Productivity (STEP) community is getting started on their “big” things:
Getting beyond the perfectionism of that perfect moment. It is hard to think in chaos, but I’m understanding that it’s not going away until that next step starts….
My next action is clearing out the roll top desk for my command center.
I would someday love to operate either a bed and breakfast or quilt retreat center or even a combination.
I want to have a private practice. My next step is convincing myself that I can try. Since that action might take awhile…I’ll just sit down and jot out what I want it to look like.
I would like to write a book. Today, I’ll start a binder with each chapter a tab, and put all my misc. notes into the right chapter section!
Ok, I have 3. I’ll list them from least to most crazy:
1. Is reupholstering our dining chairs.
I’ve done this once before, several years ago; taking the chairs apart, removing the old fabric, recovering, and putting the chairs back together. I remember it was harder than I had thought it would be…. I’ve been thinking that my next action is to take the chairs apart and wash the existing fabric, but now that I think about it, I should probably get my sewing machine out and make the covers first so they’re ready to go. I should be able to do that this week.
I want to put a fence around our front yard, and to save money I feel like I should do it myself.
This has been on my “someday” list for a while, and probably doesn’t belong on my current or next-in-line project lists yet, but it’s on my mind because last week I needed to dig up and replace some broken sprinkler heads/pipes, and subsequently carried on digging up weeds along the perimeter of the grass…. What I really need to do is finish fixing this sprinkler and fill all the holes in, and keep the fence on my “someday” list for now. My next action is to turn off the sprinklers. I will do this when I get home, and I will not just turn off the controller but also the main valve outside so if the controller turns itself back on again the water still won’t run….
Around where I live, we have a large, and growing, homeless population. I also live near a VA center that sits on a large parcel of land (well, maybe a square half-mile, which is big for our area), and on this property there are maybe a dozen or more old [vacant] buildings…. They’re obviously uninhabitable; very dilapidated, and maybe even condemned condition, but every time I drive by I wonder if they couldn’t be part of a solution for the homelessness in our community, but providing homeless vets a transitional home, and maybe even job training if they were part of helping to fix the buildings to make them inhabitable again. So that’s my crazy pie-in-the-sky idea that I’m scared to tell people about in case someone actually expects me to make it happen somehow. 😂 My next action would be learning more about the buildings; their history and how and why they up in their current condition. I do this casually by asking people who grew up around here when the opportunity arises, but I haven’t found anyone yet who actually knows anything about them, so I guess I would have to be more deliberate about these efforts with earnest research or actually (gasp!) going to the VA center and talking to someone about it! 🤷🏼♀️
Love, love, love this!!! My problem is I have too many dreams🤣. One dream is to visit, photograph, and blog about about all 61 National Parks while earning some income on the side. In doing this I want to help others in their photography and travel journey. I’ve started 2 websites helping in this process but so far no income 🤷🏼♀️. But, I’ve been able to go to 20 National Parks and the list keeps growing 🙂 . Next action for the National Parks goal, edit and organize the photos I’ve already taken and make a blog schedule that I can actually keep.
I also want to write and publish a book (I’ve started a rough draft). It would be of a spiritual nature and is right now called “Finish the Race.” Book next action – set aside a time to simply write. Another goal I’m working on is composing a church song. I am collaborating with a friend and we have a shell of a song out together already. Next action? Finish writing the lyrics.
I have a dream of writing a devotional called ‘Lessons From Journal’. I have written some 1 page creative reflections ending with a question and a prayer. It just stayed a dream because I was raising 4 kids. My journaling faded away. My youngest is 17, but now I have a full time job. Going back through past journals to find the pages to start with seems overwhelming. Perhaps I could start by using Blogger. Then maybe someday print. Seems far fetched to me, but I can’t shake the idea. That is one of many things I’d like to do ‘someday’.
My research that I started three years ago. My next step is to contact the association about which survey platform they prefer to use. The survey has been done for so long it is embarrassing. I just have to do it!
One day I want to serve a service mission with my husband when our kids are grown and to be able to be self reliant and in a place that it’s not stressful to do this. We recently took a next action here by taking some steps to get some finances in order. 🙂
I want you to know that building a STEP Command Central is going to change your life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, feeling the pain of living in piles of clutter (mental and physical!), and you don’t know how to get out–we are here for you. We are here to help you prepare for the opportunities and challenges that are ahead of you.
All of us have problems, and STEP doesn’t make life perfect. It helps us not to feel overwhelmed through the imperfections. There are times in each of our lives when what is required from us far exceeds our perceived abilities. One of our STEP community members recently helped a friend during a challenge like this.
Dear April and Eric:
It with my deepest thanks that I am writing you. I saw the ad for “How to Stop Drowning in Piles” on my FB feed about five weeks ago. I had almost clicked on it a few months earlier but this time I did and it is changing my life. Had you talked about organization or even clutter I don’t know that I would have clicked on, but the word “piles” spoke to me. No matter how many times I have organized, Marie Kondo’ed and cleared out clutter, I couldn’t get a handle on the piles, mostly of paper, but stuff too. Eventually, the clutter and piles crept back in with the resultant stress, frustration, self condemnation and confusion for why I couldn’t get a handle on it all. When Eric said to treat the webinar as an important appointment and to write it down and commit to it, I did just that and am so glad I did.
So I took the webinar and understood instantly that you knew what you are doing and that your system would work. I signed up for the basic STEP course and started immediately. I am working through the modules which are brilliantly organized into such bite sized pieces. They really have set me up for success. Thank you! And yes, of course I upgraded to Mastery which I also love!
I had time in my schedule to spend the 15 hours getting my Command Central established, files set up, desk cleared off and supporting materials drawers cleared out and ready to use. My Command Central is clean, peaceful and completely organized. My desk looks out over the mountains outside Colorado Springs and includes a view of the iconic Air Force Academy Chapel in the distance. The entire room emanates peace and it is now a joy to work there.
My projects lists are being formed, my routines lists are almost completed and the next action steps in a context based form seems so natural and easy I can’t imagine ever doing it differently. April, thank you for permission to only have a few projects going at a time, total game changer for empowerment. It’s amazing to me how the routines list has changed so many things for me: I get way more done each day in less time and it’s easier. My house is cleaner and more organized and it’s literally almost effortless.
But here is my biggest thank you: I had just gotten my Command Central established when I was called to help with the care of my longest time friend. I love her dearly, she has influenced my life with unconditional love and I am so indebted to her. She is very ill and needs a lot of help right now.
Because of following your teachings I was able to quickly leave (prepping for this eventuality was one of my projects so I was packed and organized) and fly out to San Diego to be there for Patti. While I was with her I was focused, completely present and centered in love. It is exactly as April has said on the podcasts (which are lovely by the way!), that having the details of our lives handled allows us to then accept our higher purpose and answer God’s call when it comes.
I will be with Patti again but because I have listened to April and especially took to heart the advice from the Podcast 58 (Making Room to Wait, Incubate and Grieve) on leaving time for grief I am spending my time at home recovering and gaining back my energy without pressure to do a bunch of projects that are important but not urgent right now. The last time I was in a hospice situation was with my mom 20 years ago. I was so painfully stressed and overwhelmed with fear I paid a huge price with my health. Six months following her death I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS. I spent the next two years fighting for my life, working my way out of a wheelchair and re-doing my life to support health, not illness.
But this time is radically different: my Command Central completely supported me allowing me to be present to Patti and hearing God’s voice as I was with her. I did an awesome job taking care of her and am so proud of how I was able to respond to God. I used my time to listen closely to His voice and felt comforted instead of battling the cruel pressure in my head telling me about all the things I’m not getting done. That love flowed out of me to Patti and comforted her.
I so appreciate the love and encouragement that flows from you April when I listen to your podcasts. Your vulnerability and courage inspires me and has deeply touched my heart. I thank you for praying for the people who haven’t heard of STEP but are looking for it even though they don’t know it. I was one of those people and I am one of your answered prayers.
Thank you for making this season of grief in my life be full of joy, not pressure and feeling God’s love, not the hatred of my inner critic. STEP is invaluable and applicable to real life. I love my STEP journey and thank you for your dedication, energy, passion and interest in each and every person in your/our community. Healing comes in many forms and I have no doubt that you are helping to heal this world. Eric and April, you two, your staff and the STEP community are in my prayers.
Thank you, thank you,
Isn’t that beautiful? Our LearnDoBecome community truly inspires me! I know a clean desk, an orderly house, and a calm mind won’t solve all the problems of the world. But they sure make it easier to show up every day as a force for good. And that is what you are–that is what we are: a force for good.
Okay, now it’s your turn…. Share in the comments here one “big” thing you’d like to do someday that feels nearly impossible. What’s one Next Action that is so embarrassingly easy that you feel almost silly writing it down? You don’t even have to DO it right now. Just share what it could be. 🙂 Your ideas will inspire others!
Want to see how I’ve tiered my project list in Asana? (Or maybe you simply want to see what others are doing so you can compare the process to your current system.) Here’s a podcast that explains the simple way I’ve set up Asana!
Come join our STEP Command Central Party! We’re creating a gallery of 25,000 Command Central photos from our community. We can’t wait to help you create yours! Learn more about how you can join Club STEP here!
Have you attended our free class? We can’t wait to teach you all about Next Actions and projects! We’ll give you four simple steps that you can take TODAY to get out of the overwhelm and begin moving forward on the things that matter most. Sign up here!