Hey Puttypeep, I’ve Got a Challenge for You…
Photo courtesy of Maria Ly.

Hey Puttypeep, I’ve Got a Challenge for You…

Written by Emilie

Topics: Goals

(Don’t worry, it won’t be as hard as it looks in that photo. :)


There was a night a few weeks back when I couldn’t sleep. There was too much junk in my head.

After about an hour of tossing and turning, my internal worry radio blaring in my ears, I got up and started journaling. I do this from time to time, when I need to get to the root cause of what’s bothering me.

I like problem solving. It’s one of my personal drives, or overarching themes. Most of my multipotentialite interests involve some aspect of problem solving, be it web design, learning a new piece on the violin, or even Paleo. There’s usually a puzzle that needs cracking. (Side note: Now that I think about it, this might be an entrepreneurial trait too.)

Anyway, I finally got out of bed and began brainstorming. As soon as I had diagrammed the problems on my whiteboard and had written out a couple pro-active steps that I could take right away, I felt much much better.

Switching from Wallow Mode into Action Mode

I’ve noticed that the more I consciously switch from “wallow mode” into action mode, the more automatic that switch becomes. Now just to be clear, I’m not talking about denying what you’re feeling. I believe that crying is healthy (I HATE when people say “don’t cry” to me when I’m upset.) Feel whatever you’re feeling.

But at a certain point, once you’ve fully experienced those negative emotions, it’s time to replace them with more helpful ones. And that can be hard. Unhappiness can be extremely comforting, since it’s safe and familiar.

It’s counter-intuitive, but we often feel a whole lot more comfortable in a state of helpless because that doesn’t involve much risk. It’s much easier to grasp to the notion that your situation is out of your power and a product of circumstance, than it is to actually do something that might improve your situation.

Shifting from a wallow mode into action mode is hard. It involves taking responsibility of your own mental state (saying “enough!”), and asserting yourself. That’s pretty much the last thing you feel like doing when you’re down.

The key is to start small, build momentum, and go from there. One tiny step is all it takes to get the snowball rolling.

Lets Take some Action TOGETHER

I want to try something new in this post. Instead of just asking a question for you to answer, I’d like to throw out a challenge. I want you to think of one small action step you can take this week to empower yourself, and then do it.

It can be ridiculously small, like making a phone call that you’ve been putting off, or attempting a new recipe. It’s all about the individual. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, whatever that means to you.

You don’t have to wait till you’re having a restless night to start. You can turn even a mediocre day into an awesome one, by doing this.

This is sort of like an exercise we do in our Puttytribe huddles. After we finish brainstorming each person’s goal, we have them set one action step to take that week. We also encourage them to head back into the Accountability section of the Tribe, and post about it so we can cheer them on and help with any stumbling blocks that get in the way. People seem to really love it, so lets try it here…

What’s one assertive action step you can take this week to reclaim your power in any area of your life (work, social, health, etc.)?

Pick something small, and share it with us in the comments. If you’re up for it, check back in at the end of the week and let us know how it went.


  1. jonknep says:

    I’m all about taking action, so I loved this one! My action step for this week is health related. I’m active, but I want more. I always use the old ‘I have too much work to do’ excuse. This week I’m going to ‘work out’ at least 1 time. Nothing crazy but a start!


    • Emilie says:

      Hey Jon,

      That’s an awesome goal. Health is one of my biggest goals lately, and I’ve been making a lot of progress. Let me know if you’d like to talk about it sometime.

      Also, I would highly recommend taking a listen to the Latest in Paleo podcast. Start from episode one. It’s excellent.

  2. Ann-Sofi says:

    This post really came right in time for me:)after hididng under the blanket for one week I just decided it was time to get back into action mode. What I want to do this week is not super small, but it feels very important right now: I will write down the outlines for a workshop I already decided to hold this summer, so I can send out invitations. Have been putting it off for two weeks – no good feeling! Thank´s for giving me an extra reason to stick with my decision:)


    • Emilie says:

      Yes! I love it. I don’t know what your workshop’s about, but maybe you’d like to present it to the Puttytribe too… Option’s always open. But either way, good for you Ann-Sofi!

      • Ann-Sofi says:

        Did a big part of the work last night – yes!:) The workshop I´m planning will be a quite massive thing: I´ve rented an old school building close to my summer house in southern Sweden where we will spend two whole days and two nights working on finding dreams and planning how to make them come true (based on exercises from Barbara Sher) so I´m afraid it doesn´t fit in the Puttytribe format… but maybe I can make up a shorter version – that would be fun:) (as long as I don´t have to do it at 2am, which is my time when the huddles etc. normally takes place…)

        or, after landing this, i can give a workshop about how to arrange a “live” workshop;)

  3. kim says:

    I accept that challenge! This week I am going to learn about myself. At the beginning of this post you said that problem solving is one of your personal drives, and it made me realize that it plays a part with me too. So, now I’m wondering, what else haven’t I realized about myself yet? My goal: learn 2 things I didn’t already know about myself.

    • Emilie says:

      Awesome, Kim! Let me know what you discover.

      • kim says:

        Ok, end of week update: I don’t think I figured out two things… but more of fleshed out one thing a bit more. The problem solving – It’s definitely me. I love learning new things, figuring out how they work, how to do them, etc… and usually once I’ve got it, I don’t do much with it for a while… though I always tend to come back to it, someway or another, eventually. But I also figured out that I want to motivate and inspire people (generally in the area of self-esteem and weightloss). At first I thought this was separate, but when you think about it, it’s just another type of problem solving. It sounds kind of simple, I guess, but it’s a big step for me… I never would have realized this a year ago.

  4. Emilie says:

    By the way guys, I made a video about my own little action step: Going on an Adventure

  5. liz says:

    I’ve been working on “balance” lately- trying to find the time to do it all. I know that is not possible and my commitment this week is to let go of feeling like every post on my blog has to be FULL of info. Today I did better- it was simply about where we will be this afternoon!Still useful and hopefully interesting info but EASY for me and my time. I hope that Thursdays can be simple too – so that is my “challenge” – to get the post UP on Thursday and to keep it easier for me so I can focus on other things too!

  6. Stuart says:

    Okay you called me out. I have been procrastinating on finding my overall theme, from RB. I just can’t help it, my interests all just seem so disjointed! I mean how do you connect architecture, hiking & camping, computers/technology, history, teaching and lastly writing. It’s slowly defeating me. Any help towards this final goal of developing a fully realized RB would be awesome-sauce. And best of luck on your adventure! I know the first time I traveled abroad alone was nerve racking, but it is also a great source for some of my best stories!

    • Margaux says:

      Your list of interests is a fascinating challenge. I thought my interests were all over the place, too (photography, exercise and sport science, zoology, rowing & coaching, graphic design, web development & programming, writing, travelling, history, philosophy, cryptic crosswords & other puzzles, etc.) until I thought about what I *always do* with each of those interests that leaves me feeling energised after. The answer for me was simplifying. I love taking the complex and figuring out a way to make it easier to understand for other people. Yes, there’s the problem-solving part and the learning part, both of which are major incentives, but ultimately, it’s the simplifying part that gives me the most satisfaction.

      So try listing all the things you always do (“always” and “do” are key) in each interest that leaves you feeling great during or after. Then try to create a single statement that consolidates those things. These personal “brand statements” may sound vague and meaningless to other people, but it will help you identify exactly why you do all the different things you do and it will take on more meaning when you get interested in new things. Mine ends up something like: “Helping people develop a richer understanding by distilling a beautiful simplicity out of complexity.” I have a feeling yours might be something similar. Good luck.

      • Stuart says:

        Thanks Margaux. If I really think about it, I believe what I truly enjoy about these activities is the “connecting”. The “connecting” in the tech/computer & and writing part is obvious, but with hiking, history and architecture – it’s finding the common story we share and the unique connections that each of these activities evoke. It took a while to dissect this idea from all of these different interests, but once I struck that cord, it resonated so fully, I knew it was right. I guess at heart I’m a connector! Not sure where this realization will take me but it is just one more step down this fog-obscured trail we call life.

        • Margaux says:

          Fantastic! At least you know what the umbrella is. I guess what you do with it depends on what kind of connecting you enjoy more. Do you enjoy connecting people? I can’t tell if your activities are more introverted or extroverted in nature. Do you like it when other people are involved, or is it just a solo adventure? If you’re a people person, there are so many opportunities to be a network hub. Especially if you’re not afraid of constantly making new contacts.

          If that’s not what you prefer connecting, you could be the next James Burke! Did you ever see the great series called Connections? It focused on scientific discoveries, but Burke leapt from one idea to another to another showing a fascinating connection between wildly divergent things. As an example of an episode: “Instant coffee gets off the ground in World War II and Jeeps lead to nylons and stocking machines smashed by Luddites, who were defended by Byron, who meets John Galt in Turkey, avoiding the same blockade that inspires the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’…” You’d have to see an episode to see how brilliant it is, and perfect for multipotentialites! I also have his book “The Knowledge Web : From Electronic Agents to Stonehenge and Back — And Other Journeys Through Knowledge” which is equally fascinating.

          What if you wrote a blog that looped through these weird connections between architecture, history, the tech industry, natural history? Perhaps eventually, you’d have enough material for a book. Or a lecture series. They do hire people on cruise ships to do talks on the ports of call, and being able to connect places and histories and people would be endlessly interesting. Or if not a cruise ship, a local bookstore or library (where you could promote various books by connecting the ideas in them)? I can’t say you’ll make a ton of money from any of my ideas, but you’d love what you were doing.

          • Emilie says:

            Wow wow! I’ve been super busy, took a mini trip last week, so I haven’t had much time to respond. But this is such good stuff.

            Thanks Margaux for jumping in. That’s such a great exercise you suggested. I do something similar with my students by trying to get them to focus not on the subjects themselves but on what drew them to those subjects. Your overarching theme is usually a personal motivation, not one area.

            I think “connecting” is a fabulous theme for you, Stuart. It certainly seems like it fits most of your interests. And when you can look back on your projects and see the theme pop up all over the place, that’s a very good sign.

            I love to see this kind of collaboration/help between multipods. Really warms my heart. :)

  7. Janet says:

    Ooo a action challenge that’s right up my street. I am working on my first eBook which is all about action taking in the context of promoting a creative business. I have been working on it for about a 2 months now.

    However my challenge is to actually finish it. The thing is I have already written it all out in the old skool way pen and paper. So all I need to do it type it up, add my graphics, add front cover and start promoting it. You would think it would be simple copying my work to my laptop.

    It is in principle but as I am writing this comment now at 1am, (uk) in the morning I am thinking I should be typing up my eBook. So now I have shared what I am doing with great strangers I have to finish so I can update you guys with positive news :)

  8. Jakob says:

    Great article! My action step has to do with my blog. I’ve been working on a blog post expanding on my original post on creativity. I’ve been putting it off, because I just can’t think of anything to write! My action step tonight is writing down all the things that spark creativity in me and work on my blog post from there.

  9. Margaux says:

    After an entire winter (or more like 6 months) of doing very little at all, I finally kicked into autobahn gear a few weeks ago and have been taking assertive action steps all over the place.

    First, I made it clear at work that I was bored and ready to quit if I didn’t get something else to do. I asked to be given writing assignments and now they have; practically an avalanche of them. Be careful what you wish for, as they say. But it’s great because I have a scary new challenge and new learning, everything an MP could ask for. I’ve also taken it upon myself to offer solutions to problems no one asked me to solve. This has also been surprisingly well received.

    Second, I’ve been using every opportunity to network and hand out personal business cards, trying to drum up paying photography work on the side. No jobs lined up, but lots of interest so far. We’ll see.

    I also signed up for two classes to help keep the fire going for both my writing and photography projects for the next couple of months. I’m hoping to shape some personal projects into things that can be read or seen by the outside world.

    My next action step I need to get on is reconnecting with a contact at an NGO to get a documentary project started. They’ve already given me the go ahead, but we’ve had scheduling problems for eight months!

    I don’t know why it continues to amaze me how much closer you get to your goals when you just put yourself out there a little, take a little action. It’s as simple as *asking for what you want* and people seem more than happy enough to say yes. At least for me. Right now. Mystical how that works.

    • Emilie says:

      That’s amazing, Margaux. Good for you! Isn’t it great once you get that ball rolling? The small actions really do build upon each other and the things you can accomplish just get bigger and bigger– as does your confidence. Bravo!

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