Committing to the Stretch

One thing I love about blogging is that by writing about many aspects of personal growth, I improve and deepen my understanding of those aspects. Writing helps me glean fresh insights connect the dots in new ways.

This has been especially true of workshops and courses. Initially such projects felt daunting, but eventually I got the hang of them. Now a big part of my motivation for selecting such projects is the rich personal gains I’ll make in my ability to understand and apply the material.

The next major deep dive I want to create is a course on creative productivity called Amplify. I expect to start working on it this summer. Just knowing that this project is coming me up is making me extra observant of my daily habits and workflows. I’ve made a lot of tweaks and improvements to how I work this year as I seek to better understand how to flow through a variety of creative projects, large and small.

One frame that works especially well is committing to a project before you know how to complete it. It’s extremely limiting to only say yes to projects when you can already see the finish line. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the growth and challenge?

When you demand that you’re going to have to teach something where you aren’t 100% certain about the outcome, that kind of commitment feels edgier. It keeps you on your toes, feeling awake and alert.

You don’t have to fake it. You don’t have to overextend yourself. You can challenge yourself to make a commitment at the edge of your comfort zone while still feeling confident that you can pull it off.

This kind of confidence goes beyond your belief in your own knowledge and skills. You have to stretch further into trusting reality, expecting that if you take on something bold and worthwhile, reality will back you up.

I’ve noticed that when I set well-aligned goals, reality meets me halfway. The goal has to include some kind of personal stretching though. It can’t be too easy. If reality thinks that I’m copping out and taking it easy, it won’t lend a hand. But if reality sees that I’m offering to stretch into the unknown, it just seems to love that kind of offer.

Sometimes I think that this is a big part of our collective life purpose here. We’re here to explore the unknown, and that requires stretching ourselves beyond the familiar and the comfortable. We have to push into the dark areas of life that we don’t 100% understand.

Life opens the floodgates of support when it detects a real commitment to exploring the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable. When we play it safe, however, life just yawns at us.

People often struggle to achieve easy and accessible goals. What they don’t often realize is that this is why they’re failing. They set their sights so low that life (and other people) mostly ignore them. And no fire burns within them for pursuing life’s low-hanging fruit. Stretch for the upper branches; don’t just hug the trunk.

Consider your biggest upcoming goal. Are you playing it safe by setting a small and easy goal? Are you playing it safe by keeping your options open and not really committing to it 100%? If you’re playing it safe at all, you know it, and life knows it. There’s no hiding. Life won’t reward you for playing small.

What’s the goal that scares you a bit? What’s the goal that stirs up some desire when you think about it, but you also think it could be too much? Where are the edgy goals?

Have you committed to the edginess? What would life say about that? How would you know what life thinks? Well, has it clearly indicated that it accepts your offer? Or does it seem to be ignoring you?

When you make a good offer to life, life responds. It demonstrates that your offer is accepted. When you get no response, make a stronger offer.

Your goals are offers to life. Life will respond well if it likes your offers. If life doesn’t respond, it doesn’t mean that you’re unworthy or that life doesn’t like you. It just means that life declined your offer.

It takes time to discover what types of offers life appreciates from you. So make a lot of offers. Learn what life accepts and what it ignores. The pattern I keep seeing is that life loves stretch offers backed by a clear willingness to commit.