Your Beautiful But(s)

5 steps to make your goals and dreams happen faster

If you find yourself saying things like, “I would love to travel to Paris but…” or “I need to exercise more but…” or “I should really network more but…”, here is an exercise you may want to do right away. I outline the steps below and explain it in greater detail with three examples in the video.

This process will help you to

  • Get unstuck,
  • See where specifically you’re holding yourself back, and
  • Identify limiting beliefs.

You can use this for personal goals and dreams, business goals or corporate projects. Anything, really.

A recent strategy session that I did for a business woman prompted me to create this exercise. She said one of the phrases above and then let her voice trail away. I’m sure we can all think of something we’ve said that we’d love to do and then let our voices trail away in much the same way. Left to ourselves, we may never make progress on that dream or goal. It likely seems impossible or not something that’s really doable right now. And that’s not the case. Like I did with this business woman, you can explore the “buts” to find out why you think can’t do something and build an action plan to move forward.

Five steps to get your but(s) working for you

Step 1 – Draw a heart

On a piece of full scap, draw a heart with enough room beneath and around its sides. You’ll be writing in those spaces.


Pro tip: If you turn the heart upside down, it will look like a butt. Tee hee.

Step 2 – Write out your goal

What do you wish you could do? What do you wish you could have? What do you wish you could be? Write that out underneath the heart. Let’s suppose you want to exercise more regularly. Write down the number of times you want to exercise or the duration for each exercise session. The more specific, the better.

Write out your goal

Step 3 – Write out your buts

These are all of the reasons you can think of that would keep you from achieving the goal. Write them down around the outside of the heart. Space them out somewhat evenly.

ID your buts

Many common buts that keep us from exercising are

  • No time
  • No money
  • Don’t like exercising by yourself
  • Don’t stick with it

You may have more or fewer buts, depending on your goal and your self awareness of the reasons you feel you can’t achieve the goal. The total number doesn’t matter, so long as it feels complete for you. You will likely find that you have one or two main buts that are the primary culprits in keeping you stuck.

Step 4 – Brainstorm things that counter the buts

Inside the heart, write out your ideas to counter the buts. At this stage, it is helpful to ask yourself, “What do I need to do, have or become in order to make this but go away?”

Brainstorm responses

Here is what this might look like using the exercise example:

  • No time – get up earlier; experiment adding short breaks into the day
  • No money – cut back on coffee or other expenses that you don’t “need”; save up money for membership
  • Don’t like exercising by yourself – Get an exercise buddy; find a group class to join
  • Don’t stick with it – Get an exercise buddy; work with an accountability partner

Step 5 – Take action immediately

Choose one of the ideas you developed and commit to taking one small, simple and specific action step. Write this action step beneath the goal you’re aiming for. Be as specific as possible about what you will do, when you will do it, and where you will be when you do it. Aim to complete the task either immediately or within the next 24 hours.

In our rolling example, let’s suppose you chose your idea to get an exercise buddy. The action step could be:

  • Send Mary a Facebook message during lunch time asking her to be my exercise buddy for noon-hour walks on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Take action

And there you have it. Within about 5 to 15 minutes, you have taken a “someday maybe” idea and turned it into here and now progress.

  • For a specific example on creating a kick-butt elevator pitch go to 12:20 in the video.
  • For an example on becoming an executive member in your organization, skip to 15:08.

If you want to take this exercise further, or if you suspect you have some limiting beliefs that are holding you back, feel free to apply for a complementary strategy session. You’ll gain so much clarity for yourself.

In the meantime, share this strategy with others. Let’s see how many buts we can get working for us instead of against us. I’d also love to hear about the wins you create for yourself by doing this exercise. Drop me an email at erin [at] erinacton [dot] com to let me know what became possible for you.

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2 thoughts on “Your Beautiful But(s)

  1. I love this exercise Erin, you’re a girl after my own heart! What a terrific and fun way to actually get rid of our big fat buts!