Early in life we get taught how to prepare…
Put your shoes on, take your lunch and go to school. Bring the signed permission note from your parents so you can go on the field trip. Study for the spelling test. Learn your lines for the play.
As we grow up, we need to expand our idea of preparation a bit if we are working towards a goal that involves inner change.
Your desired change could be anything: health or fitness lifestyle changes, productivity, creative production or emotional availability. Anything that involves a change in your inner stance.
For this type of change, preparation involves two parts:
1. Suit Up
Suiting up is about how you are as you arrive at the gym, sit down at your desk, or start dinner with your family.
Suiting up requires detailed practical preparation.
Suiting up involves getting enough sleep. This is crucial. If you are not getting enough sleep you are not prepared for anything except more of the same—usually stress.
Suiting up involves eating properly. Properly is purposely vague as this is well covered in other articles on this site. But a fundamental piece is this: you have to eat. Eat healthily and regularly.
Suiting up involves managing our vices. Too much caffeine, alcohol, etc will inhibit true productivity.
Suiting up involves exercise. Sometimes you are suiting up for exercise, other times exercise is you suiting up for life.
2. Show Up
You are all suited up—now you need to show up.
In true “life is like that” style, showing up is kind of the opposite of suiting up.
When you show up you don’t have a plan. You are open. Often when I say open, my clients think I am saying they are not telling me everything. That is not what I mean.
I assume that the vast majority of people I work with are being open and honest. By open I mean available to what may come. It is a state of being that allows something new.
In this way, showing up is about being deliberately unprepared. Seth Godin writes:
We are unprepared to do something for the first time, always.
We are unprepared to create a new kind of beauty, to connect with another human in a way that we’ve never connected before.
We are unprepared for our first bestseller, or for a massive failure unlike any we’ve ever seen before. We are unprepared to fall in love, and to be loved.
We are unprepared for the reaction when we surprise and delight someone, and unprepared, we must be unprepared, for the next breakthrough.
What does this look like? It looks like being in the moment. Letting go of goals and trying hard right now. For your own sake.
Change is, by definition, different from your present state. If we want change—and so many of us do—we must stand open to what will come.
Open to the fact that we do not know what it will feel like when it does come. We do not know how long it will take. We do not know what will be asked of us. But we remain open. We show up.
We–the successful—do both.
We look at our calendar and make ruthless choices so that we are not over-tired and over-stressed.
We make grocery lists and create time in our schedules to shop, cook, and package food for the days ahead.
We budget and we exercise and find balance.
And then we let it all go. We open ourselves to what comes next knowing we have created the conditions that make the next thing possible.
And then we grow.