My Coffee Can Plan

Do no harm, but take no shit

Reason 8,543 to love NPR.

I have continued to feel all good and all badassy today. Buuuut. . .I’ve still had some mud to slog through. Namely, three assignments due in the latest class (Marketing) for my MBA.

This has handed me a golden opportunity to test my, “I don’t give a shit” big-plan attitude. Of course this doesn’t mean that I don’t care, that I don’t want to do things well, that I don’t want to succeed.

I want to do all those things. But I don’t HAVE to.

I made an 82 on my Marketing quiz today. I think this is partially because I had time to read less than a quarter of the assignments this week. But it doesn’t really matter WHY. Because you know what that grade means about me?

The same thing that not eating a bundt cake sample meant yesterday. Absolutely fucking nothing.

I’m not done yet, though. This class is mostly group work (insert groaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth here). We have a conference call at 8 o’clock tonight. So miles to go before I rest.

First, a Short Interlude

But I did give myself permission to take a short break this afternoon, and I watched Part I of Liz Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.

And just about everything she said resonated with me. Liz talked about the hero’s journey. She talked about quests. And she told a story about what to do if circumstances in your life keep you from questing just yet.

You can watch it here. (Seriously, we’re not going anywhere. Go ahead.)

Okay, so if you are in a loud place or can’t watch it at work or whatever, I’ll summarize. Liz told a story of a woman in the ‘50s who got married at 18, had 5 children in 10 years, and whose husband just up and left her one day. When this happened, her oldest was 10 years old, and her youngest was 2 months. The woman had only a high school education, and had woken up one day as the sole provider for her family.

But that very day, she made a plan, and she started a practice. She put $1 in a coffee can every day, investing in a future when her life would not be so sad, so full of depression. When she would see the world.

She put $1 in a coffee can every day. Even though her family was always desperate for money. She knew that $1 a day wouldn’t break them. And when the youngest child left the house, 20 years later, she cashed in her coffee cans and sailed around the world, like she told herself she would. 

Liz said, “You might not be able to begin your quest today, but you’ve got to get your plan. Get your coffee cans going.”

Second, a Coffee Can Plan

So, friends, while I struggle through an MBA and a more-than-full-time job, here’s the beginning of my plan:

1. I will continue not taking everything so fucking seriously. Not every single solitary thing in my life defines my worth. In fact, really, none of them do.

I’ll still want what I want. I’ll still dream my big dreams. But I will not ascribe so much power to every silly thing. I will practice what Martha Beck calls intention-attention-no tension. I will focus on what I want, I will imagine it in as much detail as possible, and then I will let. It. Go.

2. Write. I want to write a book some day. Because while I would love for that to make me rich and famous (and it could), what I want more is to help other women find the light. That light in them that whispers softly, “You are beautiful. You are more than your life circumstances. And you deserve to be happy. Today. Right now. Not when the kids are out of the house. Not when you lose 20 pounds. This very second.” I want to go all Liz Gilbert on everybody.

So I will write SOMETHING at least every week. (Blog posts totally count.)

3. Speak. One of my other big, hairy, audacious goals is to give a TED talk. Speaking is something I’m good at, and also something that scares the pee out of me. It’s exhilarating and frightening all at the same time, and I want to do more of it. So I’ll seek it out and bring my A game.

And when I end up flailing and saying “buttload” to a group of CEOs, I’ll turn it into blog fodder.

4. Tomorrow, I will start kicking butt and taking names at work. I’ll tell that guy that it’s great that he wants to call together a committee to look at my stuff. Really. But since I head up this area, I’ll be co-leading it with him, thankyouverymuch. And I will not worry about the outcome of that conversation or the task force. Because it means nothing about me.

I’ll also have at least 1 conversation I really need to have. It probably won’t be fun, but it needs to happen.

And I’ll make plans for another conversation like that in the coming weeks. (I just need to arrange some other things first.)

First Work, Then the World

See? I told you that seatbelts needed to be on for this one. Now that I’ve let you in on my innermost depths, what’s your Coffee Can Plan? Feel free to share in the comments below. Or Facebook message me. Or write it down and put it in your God Box.

Just do something, yes?


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