When my daughter was about seven years old, she developed this condition I call the "but firsts,” which tends to show up every time I ask her to do something.
I tell her to clean her room. Immediately she retorts,
“Mom, but first...”
“I need a drink”
“I need to change clothes”
“I need to _____ ...”
The condition worsens in her bedroom, spiraling into dilly-dallying around, followed by complaining. “Mom this stinks! Cleaning takes so long! My friend wants me at her house in 20 minutes and I don’t have time for this!”
I fill her with wisdom that I need to take for myself. "Girl, you took a ten-minute job, and with your stalling and complaining, you made it a two-hour job."
Oh, how we delay so many good things with our "but."
We never really grow out of the "but firsts." When we’ve been called to do something new in our lives, we often fear the destination unknown. Even if our current situation is stressful and chaotic, many people, myself included, will tell you, “I don’t know why, but sometimes I prefer known chaos and conflict over the unknown outcome of a big decision.”
Every great thing in my life today lived on the other side of my “but, first...” I delayed so many blessings for so long, citing reasons why it had to wait. I stalled for proof that I should take action. These stall tactics aren’t bold, but they do block us from taking the first step toward living and enjoying our unique calling.
The "But First" Habits That Limit Your Potential
List Making. We cite all the things we have to do before we take action.
“But first I need to get more education… “
“But first I need to consult my friends…”
“But first I need to make a little more money....”
Other’s Opinions. Alongside our list, we may solicit opinions from others on what we should do. Maybe we're hoping that they calm us with certainties. Now, getting experience from those who’ve traveled the path can provide valuable wisdom. Take caution not to allow other's opinions override your personal Divine instructions. Wisdom is valuable AND it must be validated against our all of our own intuitive ways of knowing.
Before we focus too intensely on a single point of advice, keep in mind that not everyone has been given your same vision. When God gives us direction, we are already qualified to go. His plans always seem to override my known abilities.
Complaining. It's hard to talk and listen at the same time. Fear of the unknown path ahead often turns into questions and complaints, lengthening our journey.
Why do I have to do this? Why is it taking so long?
Why do I have to do it with these people?
Why don't I have all the information I need?
What if I say yes and the outcome is worse than I’m in right now?
Be still. We can’t hear the voice that guides our calling or take notice of the activities that light us up and make us feel “in flow” while we’re list-making, opinion-seeking and complaining.
Get Out of Your Own Way
Each of us has unique talents and gifts - something significant to contribute to the office and the world. That is what your unique genius is – your natural gifts and your innate talents. Rooting down into your unique gifts and talents helps you own your confidence and strengths.
Our “but firsts” often keep us stuck from living out our gifts and using them to make an impact. Have you ever dreamed of launching a new business line, starting a business on the side or applying for that next level role? Maybe you were like me and believe you could never take the entrepreneurship leap.
Here are three questions to reflect or journal on to help you overcome what holds you back:
What is it that you really want? Why can’t you have it? List all those stories down of why you think you can’t have it. You’re not ready. You’re not qualified, you’re not creative enough.
Now, ask yourself, are these reasons really true or is that just the inner liar in our head that spins lies to keep us from what we’re truly called to do?
Finally, if you acted like you didn’t believe these thoughts about why you can’t have it, what’s one little step you’d take tomorrow? What’s one new thing you’d try? What wisdom would your 90-year old self give you about this moment?
What is the bravest, smallest step that you can do today advances you in the next direction of where you want to go?
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