Chances are you’re in the hero’s saga of the change cycle in at least one area of your life right now. (If you missed what the Hero’s Saga is, check out last week’s post.) If you’ve been at it for any amount of time, you already know it can be daunting, tiring, and can make you want to give up on your dream. You have to confront failure multiple times and revise your plan and try again. If your desire for your end result is strong enough, you keep going, but it sometimes feels just overwhelming and hard. This week we’re looking at ways to make this whole phase of the change cycle a little easier and much more fun.
Last week I talked about how much I used to dread and avoid the hero’s saga whenever possible. I’ve radically changed that attitude, but that doesn’t mean that suddenly the saga is easy. It’s still hard. And when my heart is invested in the dream, it can be really hard. Sometimes I think I’m never going to make it. Sometimes I forget that it’s the journey that matters, and beat myself up for not going fast enough. Sometimes I wish I could just give up, but there are certain dreams that just won’t let go of me, and so I slog on. Since I’ve made a vow to learn from joy and ease whenever possible, “slogging” is no longer something I embrace. These are some things that I incorporate into those long, seemingly endless hero’s sagas in order to make them more fun:
Create a Fellowship
There are a couple of ways to do this – the first is to gather your most supportive friends, and let them know what your eventual promised land is and ask them to be here for you as you toil away towards it. This is immeasurably helpful and significantly more fun. Your friends can make your triumphs greater, your hardships easier, and often create comedy out of your trials.
The second is to form a mastermind – a group of people who are doing/have done something similar to what you are doing, and meet for feedback, ideas, encouragement and accountability. It can really help when you know others are facing the same challenges.
There’s no reason to just pick one of the options, either!
Make it an Epic Quest Chain
If you’ve played any involved fantasy video games, you will know how much fun it is to have a series of epic quests that link together. (For the unfamiliar – quests are challenges that you accept with specific goals and rewards, and epic ones are usually fairly hard to achieve.) Break your own hero’s saga into a series of epic quests. Of course you won’t know all of them in advance, but you can know the one for your current level, and maybe your next level. Design them with specific objectives and rewards.
To bring back one of our examples from earlier in this article series, we’ll look at the director who wants to implement strengths-based management. She was excited about it until both her employees and her boss reacted very negatively to it. She’s committed to doing it, so now her task is to figure out how to get management and employee buy in. She could break this up into two epic quests:
- Goal: get management buy in. I’ll likely need to research more and list out the benefits and see how this can save the company time, money, or both. Then schedule a meeting with management and pitch it. Reward: a full day at the spa.
- Goal: get employee buy in. Research how other people have implemented this. Talk to my most open employee about why I’m passionate about it and get his feedback on the resistance. Figure out how to motivate others. Get buy in. Reward: a Saturday spent watching my favorite old movies with my partner.
Break it Down
After you’ve outlined your quest, you probably realized that each of the tasks within it is more like a project than a task. For example, “I’ll likely need to research more” could translate to hours of online searching, interviewing others who have implemented the strategy, checking with Human Resources to see if they have any experiences with it, etc. Take one element of your quest, and break it down into tiny, actionable steps. This might be “Spend 15 minutes searching for strengths-based management results” or “Call Jim in HR to see if he knows anything about this.” Pick one tiny task and then a tiny reward to go along with it. (After you call Jim, go outside and feel the sun on your face for 5 minutes.) If you wait to reward yourself until you’ve achieved the epic quest, you might burn out. (I do, anyway!)
Plan Trips to the Pond
Square Three is hard, and you really do deserve a break. Intentional visits to the Stagnant Pond are awesome, welcome survival strategies. I use this one all the time, for all squares. Schedule in thirty minutes in the afternoon to read your favorite gossip magazine. Not as a specific reward either, but just because you are engaging in a hero’s saga, and you fully deserve it. Find you favorite pond activity (gaming, watching TV, reading, smoking, drinking, shopping, gambling, surfing the internet, etc.) and schedule in an intentional break for no reason at all.
Eagle Vision & Credit Reports
Oftentimes the Hero’s Saga is so consuming that I spend a lot of time in what is known as “mouse vision” – meaning, I’m focused on the next task, and occasionally will look up at the mountain of tasks in front of me and tremble in overwhelm. From this vantage point, it’s almost impossible to see how far I’ve come.
Switching to eagle vision is taking a step back and looking at the journey as a whole. This helps in both seeing how far you’ve come from the beginning, and seeing that the distance you still need to go really isn’t that far. It just seems far when you’re on the ground. From this vantage point, do a credit report– just answer these four questions:
-What am I glad I did?
-What else might work?
-Where did I get it right?
These four questions are the ‘official’ credit report questions from Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching. However, I find I’m sometimes annoyed by answering all four and combine them into three questions. Make it your own and just play with it.
Ask the Daily Question
“How can I make this more fun?” It helps to have a reminder that it could be fun, and that with a little bit of creativity, you can make it fun.
I would love to hear your strategies for making the hero’s saga fun and exciting – leave a comment below with what has worked for you or which strategy you’re going to try out this week.