The starting point for all transformational work is that you have to want something.

If you don’t want anything, then there’s little motivation to put any energy into having things be different. And if you don’t put any energy into things being different, they won’t be.

This is a fundamental law of the universe enshrined as Newton’s First Law, the law of inertia. The law of inertia states that bodies in motion will remain in motion, unless a force causes them to come to rest. (And likewise for objects at rest).

While the law of inertia applies to physical objects and forces acting upon them, the same holds true for you, energetically.

It’s a lovely thought to think that if you just chill out and keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll eventually transform and start doing something different. Lovely, but also fantasy.

You naturally pull your life, and its surrounding circumstances, back towards the center of your comfort zone. Your energetic resting state is what’s comfortable and familiar to you.

And so, without any desire to move toward, you’re unlikely to create any kind of shift.

The second ingredient required for transformation is that you have to believe what you want is possible.

You can talk about your impossible vision all you like, but as long as you believe it’s impossible, you’re unlikely to take any committed kind of action towards it.

Sure, you might set up a vision board with photos of everything you wish was available but secretly know is impossible. You might write out poetic visions of what you’d like to create. You might share with people how cool it would be, and all of that.

But if, fundamentally, you are operating with the belief that this thing you want really isn’t possible to achieve, you will continue to manifest that as your reality.

You don’t have to think particularly hard to see the truth of this. As long as you hold something to be impossible, you’re not going to take very committed action toward making it a reality. Why would you? That would be kind of crazy, and generally bad planning on your part.

Instead, you’ll take on action that tends to be adjacent or tangential to what you actually want. If the impossible goal you have is to speak on the TED stage in front of millions of people, you may start taking cold showers as a strategy to toughen up and learn how to sit in the face of your discomfort (so that you will then have the courage to confront the kind of discomfort that level of public speaking creates in you).

Or maybe you start going to Toastmasters meetings regularly, and learning all of the skills needed to be a phenomenal speaker, because then, once you’ve done all that, you’ll be ready to talk on the TED stage (and then it will be possible).

The trap is that as long as you secretly believe that your real desire is impossible, there’s no amount of “prep” work that will really address this underlying belief.

Instead, your life becomes about preparing for that big thing you want to do, one day, without ever actually taking the scary step to confront the impossibility of it.

Here’s the most interesting part about what is and is not possible: You will fight tooth and nail to defend and argue for the belief you hold that something isn’t possible.

Every time I sit down with someone to get clear on what they really want (like “for real what they want”, rather than “what they think they can get that would be close enough to what they want”), as we start to get clear on the vision and bring it forward, their skepticism also rears its head.

It doesn’t take much time before they’re arguing for the limitations they believe to be true about themselves. “Look, being on a TED stage in two years would be great, but that’s not how it’s done. I need to learn to be a better speaker, I need to get some exposure, I need…”

All of the reasonable explanations for why what they would really like is not currently possible.

We expend vast amounts of energy unwittingly justifying why the state we’re in, and the way things are, is the way it has to be. Because proving to ourselves that things can’t actually be different, let’s us off the hook of making them any different.

And that gives us permission to stay exactly where we are, in the realm of the comfortable and the familiar.

It takes a lot of courage and trust to set down what we know we’re right about, and to discover what lies beyond.