Want to Do Big Things? Light Your Fire to Make the Leap

by Alli Polin on August 1, 2017

Want to make a bet? Most of your days sound something like this:

Wake up.

Go to work.

Have dinner.

Go to sleep.

Yeah, there’s some variety in there. Maybe you sit on your laptop at night googling all of the fun things happening in politics at the moment. Maybe you give your kids a bath at night or watch TV. Truth is, for most people, despite a few missing details, this is life. Day in, day out.

Dreams fade in favor or predictability and busy-ness. 

“No time” becomes a favorite excuse. Colleagues, friends, and family nod in knowing synchronization. They get it. It’s their life too. 

Comfort is, well, comfortable. It’s like the dip on the couch that fits your butt to a glove. You know it, you like it, you created it. 

Still, if “more” is calling your name, it’s not thinking about what you’re going to do that matters it’s the doing.  

This weekend I was at a conference and was inspired by other’s creativity and drive. However, I met a few caught in a rut that feels shockingly familiar. 

They could do more and want to do more, but frankly, they don’t have to do it. Business is ok, there’s money coming in, food on the table, and a roof overhead. They’ll get to it… probably… eventually… as long as it’s not too much work… or too hard… or too risky. And if they don’t, no biggie. 


Hey, if you’re 100% happy with what you’ve got. Why change

If you’re cool with always running on the same wheel, go for it. 

Where you are today is where you want to be tomorrow? Sit tight. 

If that’s not you, and you’re constantly telling yourself you’re waiting until the time is right? Dude. Stop. Your time is now. Light your fire.

The challenge is, no matter how loud your inner voice shouts that you want to do big things, dream bigger and go for it, it’s incredibly scary (and the just the thought alone can be exhausting). If there’s no burning platform, no fire, you’ll stick where you are. That’s human nature. Heck, making any leap is fearsome especially when life is cozy.

If you’re not familiar with it, the burning platform is a change management concept that’s been around for a long time. Imagine that you’re standing on a platform and there’s no threat. You’ll stay where you are. 

Let’s take it a step further. On your platform, you have all the things you know and create a predictable life. Your laptop, your job, your car, your family, friends, business, food, water. You get the picture. It’s all there. 

Why would you move, let alone leap into the great unknown? For some the answer is curiosity, but for most of us, that’s not enough. You’ve got to light your fire. 


10 Ways to Light Your Fire  

Go to a conference

Ideas flow at conferences. Sparks fly and fires ignite. The trick is to implement when you are back at home. 

Set a deadline

Instead of saying you’ll “eventually” or “someday” put it on the books. Get out your calendar and pick a date not to start but to finish. (If you’re curious when the start date is, it’s today.)

Be public with your plans

Tell people before you’re ready. Making things public holds you accountable to taking action. Don’t only share what you are doing but also those deadlines that you’ve set for yourself. (see above!)

Invite people to join you

When it’s just you, it’s easy to stop and let yourself off the hook. After all, who else will notice or care? If you’re going on a journey, invite people to join you. Give yourself reasons to not simply walk away but instead make it work. 

Get on a new platform

The social space gives us a playpen to practice stepping onto new platforms, learning, extending ourselves and our reach. If you’re on Facebook and invest all of your time and energy there, step onto Twitter or Insta. (Notice I said step, not dip a toe…) Build a network from scratch and feel the challenge. 

Hire a Coach 

Find someone who will hold you accountable for playing a bigger game. Someone who will play mental ping pong with you and create a space where ideas and commitment to action grow. (PS. Let’s talk)

Cut Yourself Off

If life had a bar, there’d be a bartender who could tell you when you’ve had enough. Be your own bartender. Ban yourself from turning on the TV for a week or give your phone to your spouse at night so you don’t have access until the morning. Pick one thing, take a break and fill your time with something that will move you closer to that dream.


Immersing yourself in new cultures changes the way you see the world. Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places. You’ll feel a renewed energy that can springboard you when you’re back at home. 

Trade Perfect for Good Enough

One of the top things I hear from clients is that they’re not ready for something new or whatever they’re working on isn’t ready for daylight. What I hear is an excuse. Put something out there that’s good enough, get results and iterate. You’ll feel the fire. Once your idea/product/service is live, you can’t hide anymore.

Set an Interim Goal

Most people won’t make the leap across a gap that feels too far all at once. All you can see is the chasm, not the next landing point. If there aren’t flames where you’re standing forcing you to fly, create a new place to leap. A series of interim goals that continue to make you stretch is just the fire you need to keep moving. 


How have you forced yourself forward, creating your burning platform and made a meaningful change?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ August 1, 2017 at 7:52 am

BAM. This post Alli encapsulates the truth about change and success. Do something! When I was thinking of starting my own business, I networked, I pondered, I expanded my circles, I changed my pattern of living — all before I made the big move.

When people told me I would need a detailed business plan before I even started the business, I said to myself — well maybe that’s their approach. Yet I knew that’s now how I was or saw the world. 28 years in business now and I can attest that your approach here does create change and success.

Thanks for this wonderful momentum building post!


Alli Polin August 3, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Kate! So grateful that you shared your experience here. Proof that when you make the leap before all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed it can and does work out!




Gary Gruber August 1, 2017 at 8:33 am

BINGO! You have rung the bell again, all the way up to the top. You know that image of hitting the lever on the bottom and that little steel slide going up the slot to hit the bell? Cheap carnival entertainment but such a great image if we could put those ten things along the slide up the way. Someone could create that easily with today’s graphics but it’s not me. Anyway, I no longer “go to work” having “retired” from the workaday world about six years ago. These six years have been an amazing gift of time to do whatever I choose, whenever I choose, with whomever I choose, wherever I choose to be. That is freedom to the max and I will write a little more about that, when I get around to it. Your title reminded me of one of my favorite aphorisms, used sparingly. “There are those who mistake the edge of the rut for the horizon.” There’s the classic picture of entrenchment and being wed to the status quo. Thanks, Alli, for another terrific post.


Alli Polin August 3, 2017 at 7:33 pm

What a quote!

It’s interesting, I know people who have freedom like you’ve described and instead of doing what they’ve always dreamed or thought about (if they even took the time to do that) and instead have found themselves in a brand new rut. That clearly does not describe you!

Ruts can be hard to notice – especially once we’re in deep. Here’s to creating a life off the wheel.

Thanks, Gary!



Jon Mertz August 1, 2017 at 9:03 am

Light your fire is a great image to enliven our dreams again. We need to keep ourselves fresh in all we do, and your suggestions are all spot on. If you really want to take it up a notch, move to a new place! Talk about experiencing a new platform!

New places can inspire better directions or, at least, put the spark back into the current one.

Thank you, Alli, for your inspiration for effective change management!


Alli Polin August 3, 2017 at 7:34 pm

New places can be an incredible shake up! When I moved to Australia it changed everything. Now, five years in, it’s up to me to create that change through my thoughts and actions.

You know the value of soul sparks better than anyone. It’s up to us to feel the fire and turn up the flame.

Thanks, Jon!



John Bennett August 1, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Great post and great list of suggestions, Alli! Just zoomed in on this quote: “They could do more and want to do more, but frankly, they don’t have to do it.” Did so because what seems true IS INDEED NEVER EVER CORRECT… Everyone does have to do ‘it’ – CHANGE!!!! And the time before we irrelevant without changing is getting shorter and shorter… Once someone is irrelevent, sadly, appropriate change might be possible!!!


Alli Polin August 3, 2017 at 7:36 pm


Appreciate your comment and insight! I was so sick this week I could barely move from my room to the couch but I wanted to respond to this sooner. We do all need to change because the world is changing around us and, even if it’s not radical or noticeable on the surface, we’re changing too. Holding on to the past when we’ve already stepped into the future is a losing proposition.




LaRae Quy August 1, 2017 at 11:00 pm

Such a great post, Alli! I love this: “Why would you move, let alone leap into the great unknown? For some the answer is curiosity, but for most of us, that’s not enough. You’ve got to light your fire.” I just spent 3 weeks in Hawaii trying to pinpoint what lights my fire. It was hard and fun and energizing all at the same time! I appreciate my conversation with you at that time as I try to figure out how to move forward. The interim goal you recommended turns out to be just what I needed—I need a place to land once I do make the jump…until I can visualize the final goal. Thank you!


Alli Polin August 3, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Hope you’re feeling the flames go higher! I can’t wait to see what’s next for you. What you did is actually something I didn’t outline here but is incredibly beneficial – taking the time to figure it out. Most people stay “busy” and use that as an excuse for why they can never create a meaningful change in their life. Even if people can’t take dedicated time off, they can put in a focused effort.

Have to say, meeting you in person, feeling your energy… amazing. Thank you!



Terri Klass August 2, 2017 at 11:12 am

Fantastic post Alli! All your points resonate with me and I’ve probably used each of them at different crossroads in my life and career.

I find traveling one of the most enlightening ways to grow and see things from different perspectives. Like LaRae, I too just got back from a trip which opened my eyes to a different culture and way of living our truths. I feel more energized now to try out some of the new lessons I learned on my adventure. To be continued…

Thanks Alli and will share!


Alli Polin August 3, 2017 at 7:41 pm

Travel truly is energizing. It’s amazing that even small everyday things that are out of the ordinary for us can spark an internal change and light our spark. Hope your trip was fantastic!!



Chery Gegelman August 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Love this Alli! (Would love to hear more about the conference too!)

Huge smiles as I read your post and the comments. Thinking about how much curiosity, travel, moving and conferences light my fire. Thinking of you, LaRae, Terri and Jon all at once…


Alli Polin August 7, 2017 at 3:42 am

Thanks, Chery! Feels GOOD, doesn’t it?

PS. It was a great conference. Happy to share!



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