Your extraordinary future is now. You are worth it. You have talents and skills that the world needs now. There is no later moment in which the fullness of your expression will be more appropriate, more necessary, or more desirable. Your mistakes are perfect. Your journey up to now has been perfect. And you are perfectly positioned to become your slightly future self. – Sam Bennett, Start Right Where You Are
I never thought I’d fall in love with this book. But I did. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me do both at the same time.
It’s as if Sam Bennett wrote this personally for me. It felt like she was some heaven-sent stranger I accidentally bumped into, talked with, and offered timely advice I needed to hear.
I realized I was a perfectionist in the sense that knowing I’ve made wrong decisions in the past, I wouldn’t want to get it wrong again, which was getting me stuck in indecisiveness. The mistake is not in the wrong decision, but in not deciding at all.
True to its promise, the book helped me identify where I’m stuck, the indecision that might be holding me back from where I want to be. It has widened my perspective and allowed me to see from an objective standpoint the factors I can consider in order to come up with a decision, so I can get unstuck and move forward.
Little changes – Sam said they are what it takes to make a big difference. So at the end of every chapter, she offers “Little Changes Action Step” we can take to get started and keep going.
I also liked that she included prayers as pauses in between some parts to give us that ‘break’ and reminder for spiritual grounding and connection with God.
Shall we start?
Tiny Shift, Big Difference
So my theory in action looks like this: when you decide that you want something and you move toward it physically, emotionally, or spiritually, then your movement opens up new pathways by which things can appear in your life. Even a very small step (physical, emotional, or spiritual) can cause a radical change in your relationship to the thing you want. Even a small shift in perspective can allow you to see new opportunities.
The first theory Sam proposes is that we are standing at the center of our world, in which there are lines, like spokes on a wheel extending out that connect us with everything else. These lines represent our relationship with the potentiality of all things.
How do we actualize the potentiality? It’s through decisions and actions.
Now, if we take one small step in any direction, the lines also shift in their relationship to us. It will change the angle at which the spokes are connected to us. Maybe we move closer to one, then farther from the other. Some may become more tilted obliquely that there can be no direct path between them and us.
Did you know that if the trajectory of a rocket ship to the sun is off by just one degree, its course will be dramatically altered and can end up over 1.6 million miles from its original destination point? Yep, I didn’t too, up until now.
This is why Sam points out that a tiny shift can cause a big difference. A shift in perspective, decision, and follow-through actions cause your world to change.
What would be your one-degree shift today?
You don’t have to let your circumstances determine your happiness anymore. You can stay in the center of your self and be able to feel the joy of your life no matter what is happening on the outside.
We often hear the saying that life is like a wheel. Sometimes, we’re up. Sometimes, we’re down. But the truth is, it’s only our experiences that go either way. We have to learn how to stay in the still center around which the circumstances in life, the outer rim, spin.
When we are “self-centered,” we don’t get tossed out on the edge of the wheel as events happen. It means developing some discipline so we don’t get carried away by people’s opinions, failures, or successes. It also means practicing that discipline so whenever we stumble, we can get back to the center, and stay grounded and true to ourselves.
So what’s the little change and simple practice we can do right now? 4:7:8
It’s the breathing pattern Sam suggests to us. Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, exhale for a count of eight. And then, keep practicing.
Inhale, two, three, four; hold, two, three, four, five, six, seven; exhale, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
Next time you find your wheel of life out of balance, 4:7:8.
Nothing Is More Important Than This
I bet that when you are well cared for and your inner monologue is friendly, you actually get more done for the people around you. And what if everyone took great care of themselves? What if everyone was well fed and well rested and had a kindly inner monologue going on? Could be a whole new world.
Sam clearly emphasized, “Nothing is more important than your well-being.”
She said that the only way your life is going to get better is if you start treating yourself better. IT’S THE ONLY WAY.
But what about my family responsibilities? The business? The job? The goals? The relationship??? Yes, of course, they are important. But they are not more important.
I realize now, more than ever, how important being healthy is. And that means staying in alignment with the Source of well-being, no matter what. It’s choosing to be happy no matter what, so to speak.
The only real-ationship we have is with ourselves. If we don’t have that, we really have nothing to offer. Let’s put it on top of the list.
Write down a goal that sends a genuine thrill through your body. Now write down what you think a good minimum daily requirement for achieving that goal might be. Your MDR should be so small that there’s no way you can’t do it. Now reduce that MDR by half. That’s right — lower the bar.
MDR. It stands for Minimum Daily Requirement.
Part of my regular routine is to have some kind of morning exercise. I’m not really after having a big muscular physique. My aim was to further impress the habit on my subconscious, to reinforce a consistency-mindset.
So heeding the advice of former world champion athlete (author of Peaceful Warrior) Dan Millman, I started doing 1 jumping jack a day. Haha! I know, I laughed too when I first heard about it. But guess what? I’m now at 7 jumping jacks, squat thrusts, and push-ups. Talk about exceeding the goal! 😀
I recently watched James Altucher on The School of Greatness podcast video where he shared about becoming the best version of yourself by being 1% better every day. When you stick to that, by the end of the year, that would result in a 365% better version of you!
Ok, let’s be easy on ourselves. 1% can be too much. Let’s make it 0.5%. Heck, that’s still 182.5% more awesomeness!
I call these big life events “time boulders” because they appear to sit like giant rocks in the road to your future. They appear immovable, impenetrable, and permanent. This is an illusion. Time boulders are temporary. You know this, because everything is temporary.
Sh*t happens. (I was referring to Shift, with a silent f.)
Health crisis. Financial setback. Relationship breakup. A very dark tunnel you suddenly found yourself in and you feel like you’re going nowhere.
Stop. Take a breather. 4:7:8.
Hear what Sam has to say:
- Put self-care at the top of your list. Now more than ever. Your thoughts are usurping your energy. Get a lot of sleep. It’s the reset button when all else fails.
- Get help. Do only what only you can do. Delegate the rest.
- Find a safe place to share your feelings. You live in a different reality when you’re in crisis. It’s easy to feel alone and misunderstood. Who’s the person in your life you know will listen to you? Talk to him or her. If you can’t find one, talk to God. He understands everything.
- Acknowledge that your story has changed. Don’t confuse your stories with your true identity. You are not your story, be it of a failure or loss. Don’t let them define you. You are their author. You can always write and create a new one. Make it awesome. The Path to Awesomeness, detour edition.
- Make a date with your other goals. As Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, playfully writes, “Even if you marry a single interest, don’t stop flirting with other passions.” You can always go back to the main thing you put on hold when the right time comes.
- Look for the lesson. It is not happening to you, but for you. There’s a lesson you learn from everything. Years from now, you will understand why it needed to happen. People, God sends you nothing but angels. Experiences, God sends you nothing but miracles.
Sam tells it succinctly, “Surrender is not giving up; surrender is giving in.” Let go of what you cannot control.
Next time sh*t happens, make a shift!
See, if there was another, more perfect version of you who made different decisions, and that person was healthier, more prosperous, or more successful than you are, then we could say that you had screwed up. But there isn’t. There is only you, making the best decisions you can with the information you have at the time. Just like everybody else.
Un-screw-up-able! Loved that!
This is one of Sam’s funny witty words in the book. She says you cannot screw up your life, no matter its contradicting evidence. There is no such thing as a “wrong” life. Like an experiment, events in life are only providing information. The meaning of that information is the meaning you give it.
Say, you failed in one area of your life, and then you failed in another. Given this info, you can either conclude that you’re just not good enough, or you say, “Oh alright, I’m learning from this. I’m growing from this. I’m getting better at this.”
Knowing better and using the experiences to improve yourself, you will find that in the end, those failures led you to a life better than you expected. The success-ive failures turned out to be a success. Therefore, there are really no failures, only experiences.
All of life is a learning experience. Your soul wants to know what you are experiencing. You want to experience what your soul knows.
Your Slightly Future Self
From now on, when you need to make a decision, you can ask yourself, “What would my slightly future self do right now? How would that person handle this situation? How would that person dress for today? How would that person speak up? What does that person eat? What does that person stress out about or not stress out about? Where is that person’s focus?” That is how you can bring deep and lasting change to your life: when you let that slightly better, slightly future self make decisions in the now for you. Little change, big difference.
Got a goal? Nice. Can you imagine the version of you having that goal accomplished? Great! Start from there. Start with “Who?”
Who is your slightly future self? Who is the 182.5% version of you after this year? How would that version of you handle this challenge you’re facing now? The 365% version of you 2 years from now is slightly more responsible. How would that respond to the situation you’re in?
Gotta work with your imagination slightly here. Imagine what an ideal day would look like for your slightly future self. Play it in your mind. Are you slightly happier, slightly more engaged, slightly more creative, slightly more prosperous? Awesome!
Decide and the Path Appears
But the way is only made clear after you make your decision. I wish it could be the other way around, but it’s not. When you commit to a decision, then and only then is the path revealed. If you allow fear and confusion and second-guessing to swirl up and obscure your desire, how to get there will remain a mystery to you forever. Either way, you have a self-perpetuating cycle. Either your desire leads you to commitment, which leads you to the how and the way, or it leads you to self-doubt, which closes off the how or the way.
Not even the smartest person you know figures everything out in advance. You might think they do, but they do not.
So never count out yourself or your dreams for not knowing how to get there. The how is the fun part. “Honey, of course, you don’t know how. You’ve never done it before,” Sam got me cracking up again.
Decide what you want. Decision summons what Abraham Hicks calls the “energy that creates worlds.” When you decide, you set the Universe in motion. You activate the Universal GPS. You decide the what, the Universe shows the how. Then, you follow through with action.
When an opportunity presents itself and you feel inspired to take that first step, act on it. One step at a time. You don’t have to see the entire path. But you have to keep going so the next steps to take will be shown to you.
Be committed. Stay in alignment with the Source (God). You are Its physical extension. Trust that you are guided every step of the way.
Our reasoning about a sunk cost can also sound like, “Well, I’ve already spent three years getting this doctoral degree, so I guess I should see it all the way through, even though I’m absolutely hating it.” Nope. The fact that you are miserable now is the information that matters. You’re not getting those three years back, no matter what decision you make next. So it might serve you better to remember that no learning is ever wasted, in the same way that no time is ever wasted. You can’t waste time. Time just happens, with or without you.
Sunk cost – the unrecoverable investment you have already made in a thing, a project, or a relationship.
We like to think we’re already too invested in something that we can no longer call it quits. We hang on to it, or even worse, we keep on investing in it. We become too invested physically, mentally, and emotionally.
This investment is a form of attachment. Attachment leads to suffering.
Pain is inevitable. But we often prefer suffering from the pain of holding on. It bears repeating the words of Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
If you really think about it, you’re not losing anything in letting go. Nothing is wasted. Whatever you perceive as a loss, charge it to experience.
You carry with you each and every experience as you move forward. With that perspective, you got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Unclutter Your Dream Closet
If your dream closet needs some immediate spring cleaning, you can blow the dust and clutter away and put some sparkle back in there. Make it look the way you want it to look, the way it deserves to look. And to the dreams that have fled, the ones that weren’t right, the ones you’re letting go of, say, “Thank you. Thank you for being my dreams. Go find your perfect person.” And ( poof! ) release them.
Tissue please… *sniffling*
Clutter means there’s no movement, no progress, and no life. You feel stuck. And you’re left with no other option than to let go. It’s the only way to get unstuck and move forward to something better.
Decision time. You need to decide, which has the root Latin word cide, meaning to cut or to kill. In the context of our discussion, you need to unclutter your dream closet.
It’s not that easy. It’s hard enough to let go of something bad for something good. It’s even harder when you’re asked to let go of something good to make way for something better.
Sam helps make this process a bit easier for us. She encourages us to take a closer look into our dream closet, sort out, and really assess what we find there.
Is that dream really yours or a hand-me-down from your parents? Or maybe that dream isn’t really fit for you to begin with. Or maybe it was the right fit at the time, but you have now outgrown it. Maybe it’s just about time you let go.
The dream may have already served its purpose. It provided you the experiences and lessons you will bring with you as you take on something better.
And it applies to everything. Career. Business. Relationships… Everything.
What Sam is further encouraging us to release is regret. It’s what will keep us stuck even after letting go of everything else. Regret will not change the past. So release the belief that the past could or should be different, and focus instead on where the desire for something new is pointing to.
It’s never too late to start again.
You can start now.
Start right where you are.
Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Overwhelmed Procrastinators, Frustrated Overachievers, and Recovering Perfectionists
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SAM BENNETT is the creator of The Organized Artist Company to help creative people get unstuck and achieve their goals. She is a writer, actor, teacher, and creativity/productivity specialist who has counseled thousands of artists and entrepreneurs on their way to success. Visit her online at startrightwhereyouare.com
Other Books by Sam Bennett
Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day