At the crossroads of basically every major change in my business or life, the strangest thing happens.
First, I commit.
“OK, enough. I have to stop saying yes to this type of project/client/pattern. Even if it’s scary, I know I need to move on, and make space for something new.”
I stand at the fork in the road, a little anxious, but determined.
Suddenly, without fail, something will fall out of the sky and into my lap:
- A request for PRECISELY the type of project I’m trying to quit rolls into my inbox — with a fat potential contract tied to it. EXACTLY the type of client I’m not a fit for anymore knocks on my DM’s, with a very compelling argument for why I should take juuust one more.
- I can SEE the crappy relationship/health/life pattern starting again… but I start wondering if it can maybe be different this time.
And slowly, slowly, my commitment to change starts crumbling.
“If I take this one FOR REAL LAST LAST project, the money could hold me over as I transition to the new stuff.”
“Maybe I’m not REALLY done serving this level of client. Maybe the previous ones weren’t a great fit, but this will be better.”
“Maybe, if I let this pattern TRY to run its course again, I can break it once and for all by just… being better as it’s happening
This is, of course, bullshit.
Don’t Fall for the Rationalizations!
There is no amount of “one last project” money that will make me feel financially secure enough for change. I will move that goalpost on myself EVERY time.
I’ll hit all the same obstacles with the “wrong fit” client, due to no fault of their own. ‘Cuz it’s not them. It’s me.
I’ll be unable to “perfect behavior and wisdom” my way out of a pattern that’s bad for me… because it’s bad for me.
And the worst part is? I’ll repeat this cycle, and WATCH myself repeat it (with enormous frustration), over and over.
I’ve come to call this “the Last Temptation of Christ Moment” [LToCM].
I won’t butcher the Bible story for you — the name is related, but mostly for melodrama — but we’ll define it as:
The Last Step to REAL **Change
… where you have to face down the big, terrifying, final NO before you can permanently step into your next level.
‘Cuz the only thing that stops the LToCM for good is a loud, unrepentant slamming of the door to your old ways, by saying (as many times as necessary):
“I’m not taking on projects like this anymore, but here’s who I’d recommend!”
“You seem rad as hell! I’m not a fit for this, but I know some AWESOME folks…”
“No. I don’t do this anymore.”
And after that, there will be a viscerally uncomfortable, ringing silence.
You will doubt your decision, your choices, and your vision for your future.
But then… something amazing happens.
The Reward for that Big, Fat, Scary “No”
That silence you created with that final, solid “No!” begins to fill up again.
With the projects you truly want. With the clients you can truly support. With your life unfolding in way that are truly kinder to, and better for, you.
And you’ll wonder why it took you so long in the first place. You’ll swear you’ll spot the LToCM next time, and be ready.
Maybe you will. Or maybe not. But every time, the lesson is the same:
There is no smooth, secure, confident transition into major change. It will ALWAYS hurt. You will ALWAYS doubt. It will ALWAYS frighten you.
But permanent transformation only arrives when you move DESPITE those feelings. And say the almost-impossible “No” to make way for incredible “Yes!”