Marianne is a therapist in northern California who works with families with troubled teens. She has, over the past fifteen years, created a somewhat successful practice. But she recently consulted me because she was worried that the economy had made it difficult to keep her practice full; she felt that she was no longer making the money she had been making in previous years.
During our conversation, Marianne volunteered to me that she also hadn’t raised her fees in quite some time—even for new clients. When I asked her why, she told me she was terrified that they would not engage her services if they were more costly. She was also uncomfortable with my suggestion that she follow up with former clients to see how they were doing now. She lamented that local groups used to call her to ask her to speak, but that they no longer were doing so.
When I wrote The High Diving Board: How to Overcome Your Fears and Live Your Dreams, I was convinced that people were held back from what they wanted in their lives by two things:
(1) They didn’t know what to do to get out of the situation they were in and to pursue their desired circumstances, and/or (2) fear (or some other internal obstacle) was keeping them from doing it.
Over time, however, I’ve come to believe that there’s a third reason that people don’t always have what they want, and it impacts the other two:
(3) They haven’t yet decided to make the change. They haven’t made a commitment to change.
There is a huge difference between wanting to do something and choosing to do it. The wanting makes us children, waiting for some “parent” to come along and give us what we need. Choosing opens up the possibility of creating what we need; of overcoming fears, and of finding out what we need to know in order to get what we want.
“Have you ever gone sky diving?” I asked Marianne.
“No,” she responded emphatically, “I think that’s crazy!”
“But if someone legitimately offered you ten million dollars to leap out of a plane with a parachute after only a quick formal lesson,” I asked Marianne, “Would you take him up on his offer?”
Marianne thought for a moment and said, “Well, yes, in that case, I would.”
“Wouldn’t you be terrified?” I asked.
“Well…yes, but it’s for ten million dollars!” she replied. “I could study up on my own beforehand. For that kind of financial security, I’d make it work.”
Marianne would commit to something that (1) she didn’t know how to do, and (2) terrified her, because she saw [easy] success on the other side of it. She would choose to do it, and create what she needed to prepare for it.
“Now what if I offered you that same ten million to figure out what to do to grow your practice and double its profit margin in the next 90 days?” I queried.
“For an immediate ten million?” she responded, “Yes, I would find a way.”
In reality, success doesn’t come so quickly or simply. But real success requires the same jump-start commitment to doing the work that will have its own intrinsic payoff. An imaginary cash-prize is good incentive because it’s easier to visualize—but nonetheless, earning the prize requires a bold choice to get over your fears, and to figure out what’s necessary. Whether you want to do the work or not, if you choose to, you’ll make it happen.
If you want something more in your life, imagine that someone just offered you ten million dollars to create what you need to get it. The universe rewards action, not dreams.
If you are ready to turn your want into choice, contact me to help you commit to it. In the meantime, keep REACHING…