No Step, No Journey

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You think up an idea, you jot some notes, you toss it into a drawer somewhere…a drawer labeled whenever. If you’re like me, things go into the drawer, but never seem to come back out.

I have a huge, mondo-sized, drawer overflowing with ideas, all labeled “whenever.”

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Take Your Day

First, admissions: I’m sitting on a folding chair in a gym in Anaheim, CA, surrounded by at least a hundred screaming, volleyball-playing teenage girls. I have not had enough sleep, and I’m terrifically annoyed by the itty-bitty keyboard on this phone that keeps recommending words I don’t want to use.

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Five Years to Independence – Year One

One thing about new years is that they bring new opportunities – it’s a line in the sand, a place to denote the difference between then and now, what you were and what you will be.

If, this year, you are looking to free yourself from the same, non-productive you that you’ve always been, the FYP (Five Year Plan) could be just the ticket, the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees, and so on.

Now, right out of the box, I have to tell you, I HATE self-help books, plans, and all things associated with them. HATE ‘EM! So, this is not a self-help plan. I’m just explaining what worked for me. There. I said it.

The FYP will help you if this is you: You’re talented (you know you are, people have told you, etc.), but you are afraid to trust that talent. What if you find out you’re not all that talented? What if you’re a fake? And so you live your life on the day to day, working a job because you have to, but all the while that urge to be something greater than you are bubbles away inside because, dang it, you know you are talented.

That was me. Luckily, financial circumstance eventually forced me to the point at which I had to face the talent monster and either fish or cut bait. That’s when I figured out the steps, painfully, and fitfully, to the FYP. I ran it the first time out of desperation, making it up as I went, and it worked. Now I’m running it again to achieve my goals.

This is Year One: The Year of No Regrets

You know you’re talented because you had a gazillion and one opportunities to prove it. You shined that time you played the drunk in the community play. They loved that portrait you painted. They all laughed at that skit you wrote, or gasped at your song.   But that was way back then. And yet, and yet, you still dabble in the arts – you think about it. If only…

In my case, it was in high school. I was such a hit in the drama department, was mister funny pants and mister showbiz. I was gonna be somebody, except… except I dropped that golden thread of confidence when I made the transition from a big fish in a small pond to a minnow in an infinite sea. I let the thread go.

The Year of No Regrets draws a clean, bold line between yesterday and tomorrow.

The first step in the FYP is to let go of what you could have been. Kick it out the door. You ain’t that now, amigo. You coulda, woulda, shoulda, but you didn’t, and that’s an irrefutable fact.

But you know you are talented. You still painted that fine portrait, sang that fine song, acted that fine soliloquy, wrote that fine skit. The talent hasn’t changed. Maybe it’s little rusty, but it’s still there.

Creep up into the attic of your mind and dust off that treasured talent. It IS still there! You can still paint, sing, write, act, kick-box, whatever talent has always called you.

Life is all about the road you choose. You could have chosen the rich and famous artist road, but you didn’t. Something kept you from taking it.

For me, and for you I suspect, it was fear. Fear of failing. Fear of finding out that I wasn’t talented. Fear of being judged by my peers, or, worse, by people that don’t even know me. What if they thought I was a dud?

In the Year of No Regret, you admit that you didn’t take that road. Admit it: I didn’t pursue my dreams when I was younger. No judgment there, just a statement of fact.

Now that you’ve said it, you can let it go. Let the Four Winds carry it where they will, for it is yours no more.

Don’t speculate on where that road could have led. The only road that counts is the one you choose today.

Choose a new road today. Decide that today’s road, and tomorrow’s, and the ones that follow, are roads of confidence.

Respect the fact that you made good choices along the road you’ve followed. You are a reasonable, respectable person. There’s nothing wrong with the road you’ve followed so far.

Best of all, that road led you here, to this juncture.

The Year of No Regrets means that you don’t look back with sadness for where you haven’t been, but with joy, because it’s made you the strong, capable person who is ready, now, to face your talent.

It’s all easy to say, but it is sooooo hard to do. That’s why this plan is a five-year: each step takes a full year to become a habit so that you can succeed.

Each time you hear “I shoulda…” in your head, turn it around to “I’m gonna…”

Each time you think “If only I’d…”, remember that you’re going to, soon.

Every time you replace a regretful thought with a positive action statement, you become stronger.

Oh, and don’t think the FYP is some passive thing, amigo. There’s one more thing you need to do this year:

Get to work! Sing, or dance, or paint, or write, or do whatever it is that you do. No one has to see it or hear it, but you have to explore it.

Each time you practice your art – YES, YOUR ART – you gain confidence.

On one hand you’re getting stronger, and on the other you’re getting more confident. And you have 365 days to do it! Win-win-win, in my book.

Hey – maybe I’ll write a book!