One of my friends and I challenge each other weekly to do something that we know is a good idea but that we are reluctant to tackle. It’s not big-picture stuff (Organize your home!) but rather one of the tiny steps towards the big picture stuff (Make your desktop look inviting). I spontaneously named these little challenges Tasks of Uncomfortable Growth (Ooh! TUG! We TUG at each other! I acronymed!).
The “Pie in the Sky” TUG
Her TUG at me recently was to do a "Pie in the Sky" list. That would be a list of things that would make my “best of all possible worlds.” The big ideas, the goals that seemed completely unrealistic. Rather than the usual pragmatism, I was supposed to write down the ideal thing.
It's a common goal-setting exercise that people do at the end of the year, but I've never cared much for it – much in the same way I don't enjoy window shopping. I don't enjoy entertaining thoughts of things that I want but can't have, and she knew that.
However, a challenge is a challenge – and so I began to make the list. I did it sketch-note style, with little stick-figures sketching and a big heart to represent my relationships and even a foot-pattern to highlight the idea of wanting to dance more.
I also realized that I wasn’t thinking big-picture enough – none of the things on the list seemed especially challenging. So I threw on a couple of entirely unrealistic dreams – my student loans entirely paid off and me driving around in a Tesla.
The Strange and Unexpected Effect of a TUG
A weird thing happened as I looked at my “Ideal Life” as portrayed by my sketch note. An awful lot of the things portrayed there were not really “pie in the sky” – they were more “snack in the fridge”, as in “they’re right there if you just go get them.” Prioritizing time for sketching? Putting more music in my life? Finding workouts I enjoyed? Continuing to build Love Life Practice? The more I looked at my ideal life, the more I realized that it’s not so much a castle in a cloud as much as just around the corner.
That is very much what TUGs are about. It’s the dirty little secret: the Uncomfortable part of Growth is almost never as bad as your fear would like you to believe. Even when it really is uncomfortable, you usually find out that it’s still bearable. And even better: each Task you accomplish makes it easier to face the next one.
Since my friend TUGged me, I’ve been listening to more music, I’ve been enjoying a week of NerdFitness workouts, and have sketched something every day.
Ask your friends and loved ones to give you a TUG. See what happens. I’m betting it’ll be better than you expect.