“Okay, Bill. Would you repeat back what you’ll do between now and our next meeting?” I was wrapping up a session with a Book Coaching client and wanted to make sure he knew clearly what his marching orders were for two weeks. I’d answered all his questions and he had a clear path and great instructions.
Effortlessly Bill read back to me exactly what I instructed him to do to take the next step. He’s a new client, a sharp guy with an MBA and a 20-plus year career in a field he loves, but in a job that’s become so stifling and corporate it’s no longer fun. I was confident he’d do a great job and knock it out of the ballpark
One week later I received a desperate email. “Denise, I’ve been so busy. I’ve forgotten everything we talked about and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do for our meeting tomorrow.
I replied, “Gee Bill, you must be super busy. Our meeting isn’t until next week. You have an entire week to get everything done. I’ve included the link to the audio recording so you can re-listen. If you have questions, let’s talk.”
“Listening to the recording will be fine. Thank you,” he said.
A week later I got a hurried text. “Denise, I can’t meet later today. I have to babysit my grandson.” We normally meet after his corporate job.
“Bill,” I replied. “I get the sense you’re feeling overwhelmed. Any chance that’s true.”
“YES!” he texted back immediately and scheduled another meeting.
“Come up with a list of questions. List the thoughts in your mind holding you back from moving forward with your book. Even if you think it’s dumb, put it on the list, okay?”
“Absolutely, I’ll do that,” he replied.
- An hour before our scheduled meeting I got an email with a list of questions from Bill. I patiently went over his list. He included concerns like:
- I’m afraid this is a waste of time.
- I’ll never sell many books.
- How do get what I envision in my head on paper?
- Another good idea that’ll never comes to fruition…
- How will I find the time and energy to sit and write?
- Will I ever find a publisher?
- I’ll never amount to anything.
Nothing on Bill’s list had anything to do with my instructions. Almost everything was his concerns about the future which isn’t here yet. Or, it was about what he perceived as his past failures which are gone and in the past. While ignoring the present he’s locking in the reality he won’t complete or even start his book.
He’s wanted to write it for three years and was incredibly excited when we met. He’s quickly grown overwhelmed, mired in endless questions that haven’t been answered because we’re at the beginning of the process. Even worse, he’s comparing himself with a mega-bestselling author in his genre who has a twenty year jump on Bill.
It makes sense to plan, however if you feel overwhelmed chances are it’s wrapped around fear about the future and/or your regrets about the past. When you live in the present you can get those tens of thousands of thoughts that bombard our brains daily in control. Deal with what’s in the now. When thoughts from the past crop up, release them. When concerns about the future rear their ugly heads make a mental note to deal with it in the future – but now take care of what’s at hand.
Bill wants all the answers to his questions. It’s why he hired me. I never waste a minute when I meet with clients. However, I guarantee even if it was possible to download everything I know in an hour it would make him feel more overwhelmed.
I’m reminded of a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, “Don’t worry if you can’t see the whole staircase. Just take the next step.” Chances are you know exactly the next step for you. But you might not know what the next ten or twenty steps could possibly be. It’s all okay. Just take the next step. Sometimes taking action results in the answer to another step and another and another being revealed and opening up. It’s magical how that seems to happen.
By the time we went through Bill’s list he felt energized and excited again. He got back to the present. Bill promised to keep his thoughts about his book in the present. He trusts that I want him to know it all, but dumping it on him all at once would be confusing and lead to another round of overwhelm. Once again, he dedicated himself to release anything less than ideal from his past.
We live in a world with many demands on our time and thoughts. Our brains don’t always work to our advantage. If you’re worried about the future, feeling regretful about the past or both, do yourself a favor and stop. Stay with what’s happening right now. Get it done. Then do the next thing and the next thing. Dedicate time to getting “the big rocks” accomplished and you’ll be stunned how the answer to the next set of questions will reveal themselves to you. When you focus on what needs to happen in the moment called now you’ll be able to accomplish the future you envision with far greater ease.
Denise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, consultants, therapists, speakers and aspiring book authors become more recognizable, influential and in-demand. Using the leverage a book provides – you can become a go-to expert in your niche. To contact Denise click here now.