What You Can't Stop Thinking About aka Your Dream

"I have this dream that's never let me go."

Here's what I believe about the big goals/dreams we have for ourselves. They're not accidental. They're not to be dismissed. They're in your head/heart for a reason. And if they stay with you? Or keep coming back over a period of months, if not years?

Then my Dear: They're begging you to listen and take them seriously. Which means taking yourself—what you love to do and what you have to give, seriously. Valuing it. Believing that the world needs what you would so LOVE to give others. And would value it, too. Today's chat is about what to do with those kinds of big, dreamy goals and how to make a them a reality. For realsies. #progresscoaching

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OK, we’re starting again! You guys, you know what we’re learning today? At least being reminded of? That if you’re going to go live on Facebook, you have to plug your headset in—for people to hear you. That’s what we just learned.

So thanks for sticking with! OK! So what we are talking about today are the things that you can’t stop thinking about. Specifically, in the context of creative ideas that you have, things that you would love to be doing in the world, the difference that it is that you want to make. And how often those ideas that we have—which are usually really good ideas—can get stuck in our head in the labyrinth that Clever Brain creates. That essentially suggests that somehow, we’re not really up to it or maybe we’re not the right people to bring these ideas into being.

So I want to speak to that today.

I was inspired, in part, actually, by some recent conversations that I’ve had with you all. That’s where I usually like to pull these ideas.

OK. Oh! Vicki, you’re back with me. You said, “Yeah. Had to reboot Facebook.” We are good to go! Alright. Glad to hear that, Dear.

OK, so I have a new course that I’m going to be launching in early May and it’s called The First 5 Steps Toward your Big, Scary Goal. So I had reached out recently to the Tribe to find out from you all what your “big, scary goals” are. It’s very much in line with what I’m talking about when I say this thing you can’t stop thinking about.

Because often that could be a creative goal—something that comes from you—and when it’s something specifically from *you* that’s where Clever Brain has the most fun in coming up with all the reasons why your ideas aren’t good enough, your creativity’s not good enough. Who's gonna care? Who's gonna want to hear about it? Who do you think you are to even have this idea in the first place? This is really, really common.

So I want to encourage you in today’s chat to think about why you’ve been having this idea and why that matters. Then some things that you can do to shift the way you’re thinking about it that would allow you to take some next right steps and move forward. Because I believe that whatever this idea is that you have in your head, the world needs!

I want to give you a specific example: This comes from someone who had answered this question about what their “big, scary goal” might be. And they said:

I’ve had this nagging desire to write a book for about 5 years. The problem is, I don’t know what kind of book…fiction, a member, a how-to book? I just haven’t gotten very far but I think it would be a super cool process that would give me some direction in life.

I love this! Right? I talk to enough of you to know that this is something that is not uncommon. I have a good friend of mine who's like, “Oh, I have so many books in me!” I think she might even have a running list of the titles. But she hasn’t moved forward into actually writing them or really committing herself to them. I think there are a lot of writers out there that are in the same boat.

So when we have these ideas, I really believe they are there for a reason. That this creative idea—in this Mapper’s case, this “nagging desire,” I love the way that they put that—this nagging desire to bring something forth creatively, is something to pay attention to. I don’t believe that it’s there by accident. I don’t believe that it’s just sort of randomly stuck in your brain for no reason, other than to take up thought space. There’s something there.

There’s something that is calling to you, that is asking you to take it seriously. To take this idea…maybe you *could* really write a book and maybe you *could* bring something into the world that would really make a difference for other people.

So let’s assume, first of all, that whatever this idea that you have, that stays with you no matter how improbable it might seem, let’s assume that this idea is something for *you* to bring into the world. Meaning: It’s in your head for a reason, so let’s assume that that’s valid.

If we assume that it’s valid, then what’s in the way of you taking action? What is it—what logic has Clever Brain come up with that is so compelling, that you believe that you cannot take action? That you’re not ready. That you don’t have enough of what it takes. That there’s some compelling reason why this idea just sits in your head, for *years* at a time!

I want to go back to this example again, of what this person’s Clever Brain was telling them in terms of why they’re not able to move forward on this “nagging desire” to write a book! The first thing they said was, “I don’t know what to write about!” I mean, that seems like *such* a good reason, right? Of course! Don’t start a book until you know what to write about!

AND YET. I would say, “Doesn’t matter. Just start writing anyhow.” So much of being a writer is overcoming your Clever Brain to just sit in front of whatever it is that you’re going to use to be writing—many times, it’s a computer—and to START WRITING. Steven Pressfield wrote one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life, called the War of Art. The entire book is about this resistance, specifically the resistance of writing something.

Of course, the beauty of his book is not that it’s just only applicable to literally writing a book, but it is applicable to any sort of creative idea, urge, nagging desire that we have. We can use those principles to move forward anyhow.

That book, The War of Art, was huge, huge inspiration for what I call Clever Brain. I chose to sort of take inspiration from Steven Pressfield’s work and say it how I would say it. And start to put it in the context of making progress on goals. But I love his book.

I love that book so much that in one of the Facebook groups that we have—if you don’t know, we have three Facebook groups for the Progress Mapping Tribe. One is for wealth-related goals, one is for wellness, and then the other is for “work.” Work can refer to things that you’re doing to make money and business-related (sales goals, things like that). But it can also refer to the work that you are here to create in the world. Specifically, things like writing a book! Or painting. Or photography. Or starting a creative business, side hustle, anything like that. It is work that you are here to do in the world.

So we are going to be doing what I’m calling “bookclub-ish” in that Facebook group with The War of Art. Meaning: Each week, I’m going to do a short Facebook Live *in* the Facebook group and we will go through and talk about some of the highlights of this book and really learn from some of the Steven Pressfield wisdom. Taking that into account, one of the primary points of the entire book, is that to be a writer—in his mind, to be a professional writer—meaning, somebody who is here to actually get it out into the world and succeed in doing so. One of the biggest things is just sitting down and *writing.*

I love what he says, he says, his goal every day is just to write. He doesn’t care of it’s good. He doesn’t care if it makes sense. He doesn’t care if it makes it into a book at all. He just cares that he did the writing.

I want you to take that same idea and apply it to this context. And so, my Dear: If you are a person who a nagging desire to write a book and you don’t know what to write—it doesn’t matter! Isn’t that such good news? That you don’t even know what you need to write? All you need to do is sit down and start writing. Then there’s victory in writing.

It could be total shit! In fact, Anne Lamott, who’s one of my writing heroes wrote an incredible book called Bird by Bird. It’s one of my favorite books on writing. And one of the primary points that she has in that book, that is echoed by people like Brené Brown (don’t we love Brené Brown?), is the idea of employing what she calls the “shitty first draft.” It is just words on the paper. Just gettin’ it down.

Again, this concept is obviously brilliant when it comes to writing a book, but it doesn’t have to be literally writing a book. You can take this idea of just starting and just creating and just writing and just doing a “shitty first draft” for whatever creative endeavor you have—anything that you want to bring into the world.

So the other Clever Brain logic that this person had shared was, “I don’t know the process of writing a book. Pretty sure you don’t just start at the beginning and just start writing.” Right? Because that would be way too simple! What I can tell about this person is that they value excellence. They value doing things well—doing it the “right” way! That is something I certainly understand. That is a huge value of mine. I always want to do it “right.” Do it well. And yet—that can get in the way of us doing it at all.

So what I would encourage this person and anyone else is that if you have this, “I don’t even know what I’m doing! I’m pretty sure there’s a right way to do this and I’m sure that I don’t know that right way.” That may be fine! Maybe you don’t know it *yet.* It doesn’t have anything to do with you starting and you building a practice of taking action on the things that are important to you. And the creative ideas that you have.

Really, really key: The hardest part, often, is just getting started. But once you’re starting, once you’re writing, once you’re creating, once you’re taking action on whatever that is that you want to bring into the world, then you can start to tweak. Then you can learn as you go. You can start again, as often as you need to. You will be learning in the process. And you will be building the muscles that you need, while you’re taking the action. So it’s really important that you don’t listen to your Clever Brain! Ex. That you need to know what it is that you’re creating or that you need to know how to do it. Those are two things that stop us most every time, but I promise you: You don’t need to know how.

Then the other point that I love that this Mapper brought up, was, “Is the story even compelling enough to tell?” Ahhhh! This is where Clever Brain loves to have a field day, with the “Who do you think you are? Why do you think anyone cares about what it is that you have to write? Why is your story important enough?” and alllllll of that. Here’s the beauty about humanity and the fact that we have eight billion or so people on the planet *and* the miracle of technology and the Internet and how so many billions of people are interconnected: There’s enough room for *your* story. And for whatever it is that you want to create—for that to be compelling and meaningful. For it to matter to a lot of people.

I promise you: We would not be having this conversation right now if I had listened to my Clever Brain, who said, a couple years ago when someone suggested, “Oh, you should create these pieces of artwork to help other people reach goals!” and my Clever Brain was like, “Absolutely not. That’s stupid. Why would anyone do that?” and I’m pretty sure I said this out loud, “Why would anybody pay for my art when they could just pick up a pen and draw something on a paper and then color it in?”

I remember my friend saying, “No, you don’t actually get it. People don’t necessarily do what you do so easily. Or even if they could do it for themselves, they don’t want to. They want you to have done it for them and provide them with a tool that they can pick up and use—and be ready to go!”

My Clever Brain fought me at every single stage of this process and certainly fought me when I decided to start coaching people and having conversations about how to use these tools in a more impactful way. Every. Single. Time. I have had to sort of set aside my Clever Brain and its whole loud, LOUD narrative about what people want and what people don’t.

You are not here to judge your story. You are not here to judge the quality of your art. I have said it before, but the most popular Progress Map in my store at mapyourprogress.com is the 150-Swirl Vortex. That is my least favorite design. It is a design that I don’t like very much—to the point where I almost did not put it up on the site. I remember having that conversation with myself, “Ugh, I don’t really like the shape! I just—eeeh—it’s not really my thing. Maybe I shouldn’t put it up.” Then my Quiet Voice was like, “Eh, why don’t you just go ahead and put it up? It’s fine.” Just sort of casual. Like no big deal. Whatever. It’s just another page on the site.

Yeah. That’s my number one best-selling design, y’all. This is what I’ve learned! It is not your job to judge your creativity. It’s not. And it’s arrogant when you do. It’s arrogant because when you judge *your* creative work, that which you are capable of bringing out into the world, you deprive somebody else of having it. There are thousands of people around the world that I know of, and I’m sure there are many thousands more that I do not know of, who have been positively impacted by my artwork that I didn’t think was very good. And by the design that I hated!

So please: I implore you. Do not judge your own art. That is not your job.

Tazz is saying: “Amy. Thank you for not listening to your Clever Brain. I love the Vortex.” Haha! Thank you, Dear! I appreciate you. Yeah. That’s the point!

No matter what it is that you want to create, whether it’s a book or a business or a piece of art or it’s a course—it doesn’t matter. There’s somebody out there that’s going to value it. You know, I think—this example just came into my head, so I’ll use it—but remember that TV show American Idol? And how there’d be the whole Simon Cowell effect, where people would get up there and sing their little hearts out and he would say some really mean things, that was sorta just like Clever Brain, out loud? Then these people would be crushed? I get his point. And yet.

If singing, if writing, if creating, if helping people in a certain way is what lights you up and that’s what makes you feel more alive, there is a place for you in the world to do that. There is an audience that wants to hear that. There are people who want to hear your message. No matter it is that your Clever Brain is saying.

So the trick to making progress, to making a difference in the way that you want to make it, is to just trust that if it is in your brain, if it’s in your heart—especially if it’s been there for YEARS—then please listen to it. Take yourself seriously.

So, when (I’m talking about taking yourself seriously), I don’t mean “Wawww. I have to take this seriously! So I have to be scheduled about it. I have to do it in a rigid way. And I have to just sit down and grind it out.” Truth be told, as much as I love Steven Pressfield and The War of Art, one of the reasons why I created my own version of what he was trying to get across, was because his version in The War of Art, as the title implies, is very violent and masculine and “Rahhh! Let’s slay the dragon” kind of thing. Which—if that works for you—then that’s great. And that works for him. He’s certainly sold millions and millions of copies and impacted so many people around the world with his version of it. It totally works, right?

But my thinking is that the process of you creating, the process of you believing in your idea, taking it seriously, that you’ve got something of value to share, and then—taking action, practicing taking your next right steps and bring it into being—that that doesn’t have to be an arduous, terrible process. There’s a way of being on your own side. Being kind to yourself. Being the person that you most need to encourage yourself when things get tough, to kick yourself a little bit in the butt when you need to just focus and get going. Whatever it is that you need to be able to *do* the things that need to get done.

And, find some satisfaction in the process. It’s not *just* when you finish that book or when you launch your business or when you have your art being purchased by other people—that *that’s* when you get to feel proud. *That’s* when you get to feel accomplished, that you actually did something. The trick is to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride *in* the process of what it is that you’re doing!

So, when I had asked this person, whose example we’re using about how she has this nagging desire to create this book and she wasn’t sure what it was that she was going to write about—and my encouragement was it doesn’t matter! You don’t know need to know what it is that you’re going to write about. You don’t need to know how to do it. You just need to start and do whatever your best idea is right and begin. Then as you begin, you will learn and you will get going.

When I’d asked her to consider what would it be about bringing this book into the world that would make it worthwhile? One of the things they shared was, “The biggest thing would simply be that I completed something.” Which is huge, right?

We have these *ideas* but we don’t really take ourselves seriously and we don’t believe in ourselves when we don’t act on them. Because we just go, “Oh, OK. Whatever. It’s just another idea that you have, but we’re not actually going to do it. It’s not like you’re actually going to bring something into the world.”

So we don’t have a lot of respect for ourselves when it comes to this. It’s like,”Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah—but you’re not actually going to do anything about it, so fine. What’s on Hulu?” We just kinda gloss right over it. So I really appreciate what this person’s saying as far as what a massive accomplishment it is just to have an idea and follow through on it—to yourself! Prove that you actually have the ability to bring an idea into reality.

Oh, Danielina! I hope I’m saying your name right, Dear. Said, “The trick is to just trust your heart. I’m trying to be kind to myself to be able to do it!” YES. Yes! And Vicki, you were saying, “Me, too.” OK, awesome.

Yeahhhh! That is. That is a huge part of it. Trusting yourself. And of course, trust is something that is built over time. It is action over time. It’s the same way—building trust with ourselves is just like we build trust with other people. The words, the thoughts that we have, are one thing. But they don’t mean as much until we put action with them. Until we do that over a long enough period of time to start to trust ourselves. That we *can* bring something forward.

When we develop that trust with ourselves by taking those actions over a long enough period of time, then we develop confidennnnce! Confidence is a wonderful thing to feel, right? And it feels terrible when we don’t have confidence. And yet, sometimes Clever Brain will convince us that we need to wait to begin until we *do* have confidence. But the thing is—confidence is a result. It is *not* a prerequisite!

If you are waiting for confidence to begin, you are going to be waiting a very long time. You waiting a very long time—if not waiting for…never—your Clever Brain is very happy about. Because your Clever Brain thinks it’s succeeded in keeping you safe by keeping you exactly where you are, doing nothing, saying nothing, creating nothing. That’s what Clever Brain views as a total success. Because your Clever Brain operates from the primitive part of your brain that believes that any change in what is known is a threat to your survival. So that’s just leftover, factory-installed, been in our bodies for a real long time, not going anywhere anytime soon.

The beauty is that you have the ability to choose. You have consciousness. You can create a practice of recognizing your Clever Brain for what it is and then choosing to take action coming from love! Choosing to build that trust with yourself. Choosing to take this idea, this nagging desire and then begin anyhow. Even if you have no idea what the hell you’re doing! That’s great! You want to know why? Because that means you’re going to have a really good story later.

Ooh! Loveeee. Williams Bear: “Bravery is a muscle…You keep doing little things…And as you get brave in the little things, the bigger things seem less like a life or death thing.” Yesssss. Absolutely. So true, you guys.

I promise you: I live this every single day. So I feel like I can speak from a lot of experience here because this is what I’ve been obsessed with and this is what I’ve been practicing. In particular, these last couple years, I really kicked it up into a higher gear and have found it to be so life-changing and so worthwhile and so—like, I feel alive! I want that for you. I want you guys to feel alive. I want you to know what it feels like to discover yourself. That you had abilities you didn’t think you had. That you could do more than you think you can do. And that you can create things that really make a difference for other people’s lives. These are people that you may have not met yet or even conceived of or in countries that you’re like, “What?! Australia?” We’ve got so many people in Australia that are in this Tribe and getting so much out of this. That still blows my mind!

When I started this, there was no part of my brain that was thinking, “You know what? You’re gonna be real big in Australia.” Absolutely not! That’s crazy. And yet. It’s also reality! Because I went ahead and did it anyhow. Created a business I didn’t know how to create. Started a website that I had not started before. Starting selling things that I’d never sold. I started coaching—it just—it’s turning out! And it can turn out for you as well. That’s the most important part of this!

When we don’t listen to our Clever Brains we can actually do amazing things.

There are two more things that I want to let you know before we wrap this up. Again, we’re using the words from this person whose example we’ve been using, as far as, she had a nagging desire to write a book. When she was thinking about what would make this worthwhile and what she would imagine if she were to actually do this, she would say, that “I would let myself be completely vulnerable in the editing process.” Yaaaaaa! YES. This is something that requires a lot of courage. When we create something from our own soul and then put it out into the world, we allow it to be judged.

Even in the context of what she’s talking about—the editing process—that is something where she will likely have somebody, if not a professional editor, somebody there to be helping her take her message and what it is that she’s creating and provide an additional perspective to help her see how it’s landing.

Because creativity for the sake of creativity is a wonderful thing. But then creativity as a communication is another thing. When we’re trying to communicate with our creativity, then we also get to have a consciousness around *how* we are communicating and how that is landing. We can’t control what somebody else thinks or feels when they witness or receive what it is that we’ve created. That’s not our job. But we can have an awareness for: Are we being clear? Is this something that is coming across to the type of people we most want to connect with?

And that can be a really vulnerable process. I remember, I think it was Maya Angelou, I was reading something about her, where she was talking about the relationship that she had with her Editor. How she would receive feedback from her Editor and then say things like, “I hate you. FOREVER. I will never, ever speak to you and you’re a terrible person. We’re done! Never. Ever!” And she’d get really, really upset about it, right? All these threats and stuff.

And of course, you know, then whatever amount of time later, she’d obviously be talking to her Editor again and continuing to work with this person. But this is something that I’ve heard described by many of the most famous, accomplished authors out there. This is a human thing. This is it! I didn’t make it. This is just—whatever you believe about how humans are made—this is it. This is the human experience!

When we create something that is so personal and we put it out there for other people to provide feedback or to give commentary—to help us—it does require a lot of courage because it can be very uncomfortable. And yet: If you want to get your work out in the world, if you want to make a difference, you gotta be willing to be brave and to show up and allow yourself to be seen. Even if it’s uncomfortable. Even if it somehow hurts.

I think I’ve sent, at this point, well over 100 emails to y’all in the Tribe, over this not quite two years. And EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I hit “send” to send out an email, I feel like, “Blegghh, oh God. Whose gonna unsubscribe? Whose gonna send me some mean email that says ‘I hate you and you’re a terrible person and you suck and I hate everything that you have to say.’” I think I’ve gotten one email in all of the—because when I send one email, that goes out to thousands of people—there’s A LOT of emails that have gone out to a lot of people and *one time* have a I gotten somebody that’s sent something back to me and didn’t like what I had to say. Specifically, she took issue with me swearing. Ha. By the way, my Mother totally agreed with her! Which is even more like, ohhhhhh God!

And YET. That’s OK! You know, she got to unsubscribe. Fine! And now, at this point, I look at unsubscribes as a victory. Because if somebody’s unsubscribing, then that means that I sent something out. So that’s victory! I got something out into the world and then it’s a victory for that person because they decided that they didn’t want it. They didn’t want it in their inbox. So it’s a victory for them in terms of self-care. You have two people who were victorious. And the result was that one person unsubscribed from my email list. Yayyy, right?!

OK, guys. The idea is that—yes—when you put yourself out there, other people will have an opportunity to respond. And not everybody is gonna love it and that’s OK because that is how it’s supposed to work. The people that *do* love it *are* going to be on board. They *are* going to be excited. They *are* going to show up for you. Then you get to bring beautiful things into the world.

It is not easy. It is hard at times. And yet, here’s the thing about hard. I’ve said this before, but I really have come to know this for myself. We think we want things to be easy. We think we want our goals to be easy. And what I really believe is that we actually want them to be hard. Because when we do hard things, then we respect ourselves. We admire ourselves. We start to believe in ourselves. We start to trust in ourselves as being capable.

There’s a whole other sense of satisfaction and accomplishment and pride that comes from having done a hard thing. I am reminded of this each time I go to Barre class, which I going to later today! When I do the exercise class, the Barre Method. It is so fucking hard. Oh my god, it’s so hard! And it’s painful.

And yet I feel like a BADASS when I walk out! I’m taller, I feel like I’m a Captain, I’m in my vessel and I did a hard thing. That feels amazing. That’s why I keep going back.

So whatever your idea is—whatever that nagging desire is in your head—I want you to consider that it is in your head for a reason. That it is not a mistake. Especially if it’s been hanging around for years and that it is an invitation that is begging you to take it seriously. That is begging you to take action, to believe that it’s possible that you can make a difference. That whatever it is that you have, that you can create it. You don’t need to know how. You don’t need to know what’s gonna happen.

If that is something that is so like overwhelming and like really makes you nauseous, just reach out to me. Message me! Comment below. Talk to me. This is my area of expertise. This is what I help people do. This is my favorite thing to help people do. So please reach out! Let’s have a conversation about it. *That* would be a brave thing! Just let that be your brave thing. Let that be your next right step. Have a conversation with me and I will cheer you on and go, “Yayyy! You’re being so brave!” And we will talk about it.

Because—it’s there for a reason! And there are people that want what you have to create. But they don’t get to have it if you don’t say “yes” to yourself first. That much I know.

Alright, my Loves, so great to be with you. Thank you so much for sticking with me and the technical challenges and I look forward to seeing you next time, OK? And if you want to relisten to this or get this in audio form, you can go to our Soundcloud page and you can go to mapyourprogress.com/soundcloud and that will conveniently redirect you to our Soundcloud page where you can listen—almost like it’s a podcast! If you want to get these replays delivered to your inbox, go to mapyourprogress.com/youtube and you can subscribe at our YouTube Channel and get them delivered.

Alright, Loves? I will see you next time. Bye!