goals

Consistently Inconsistent OR Striving for Consistency

Success Golden Key - Public Domain image courtesy Animated Heaven on Flickr

I am nothing if not consistently inconsistent. At least, that was my excuse. I used it all the time.  The ‘I have a family and a job’ excuse was helpful. So was the excuse, ‘I’m a slow writer.’ After I used those excuses, I beat myself up. I was a failure for not being consistent, for not making my writing goals. I went through this a circular reasoning day after day after year. Until I decided to change.

I’ve tried to change many, many times. And I’ve failed many, many times. This time I was determined to make it work. So I did some research—of course! The internet is full of well-meaning but useless advice.  I turned to some trusted experts: Marie Forleo, James Clear, Stephan James, Dean Anderson, and Henrik Edberg. From their insights, I’ve compiled a list of things essential for developing consistency.

Know Your Why

—Marie Forleo

Marie Forleo lists this as her number one key to being consistent. Being consistent over the long haul is hard work. She encourages you to have a clear compelling vision for what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. Knowing what and why makes it easier to stay focused on your goals.

Being Consistent

Isn’t The Same Thing As

Being Perfect.

—James Clear

Oh, boy howdy, did this one resonate with me! Some say I am obsessed with perfect. If you, too, are obsessed with perfect, it’s time to change your mindset.

No one is 100% consistent. Life happens. Surprise and change interrupt every intention. I used to think I must function at 100% or I’m not successful. So when something knocked me off course, I was a failure. I’d curl up in a metaphorical, if not physical, ball and quit trying because I was a failure. How did I overcome this?

Aim for mostly consistent. Choose an achievable percentage that means winning to you—80%, 85%, 90%, 95%. There will be days or weeks when you are 99% consistent, but there will also be times when you’re 80%, or less. Keep your eye on the average.

Don’t Hurt Yourself

—Henrik Edberg

How many times have you thought that you aren’t motivated enough to do this thing? Stop listening to that! Telling yourself you’re not motivated is giving away your power of choice. Lack of motivation is a way to say you had no choice. It is a choice, you know. But you have to choose to work on your goal every day.

So, when you have a “I don’t wanna—“ day, don’t listen. Train your brain to ignore that voice. Get up and do it anyway. Pay attention to how you feel at the end of the day. And those days when you choose not to be consistent, to do the thing. Pay attention to how you feel on those days, too. Learn from that.

Focus on the process. Love the process. Acknowledge the process is work, but don’t associate the work with negative thoughts. Negative thoughts will beget negative progress. After all, if you do something that causes you pain, why would you choose to keep doing it? I don’t know how many times I have heard a writer say, “I hate to write” or “I can’t write when X happens.” Change your mindset. Associate the process with positive feelings and you’ll want to repeat the process.

Have a Plan

Without a plan, you won’t succeed. Steven Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but schedule your priorities.” How you schedule is up to you. I have an allergy to rigid schedules, so I don’t schedule by hour. I schedule by day of the week.

Dean Anderson recommends building momentum slowly. For example, if you want to exercise more, plan for a ten minute session once a week. Do that for a while (at least three weeks), then increase it to two days a week. After you’ve worked that into your schedule, increase it to include another day or more time each day. The key is to move forward step-by-step.

Many experts recommend that you take 5-10 minutes each evening and make a plan for the next day. It’s a flexible way to schedule your priorities. I know that my days are much more successful when I choose to take that evening time and plan for the next day.

If you have trouble scheduling your priorities, ask yourself Edberg’s three questions. What is the most important thing I can do right now? Is doing this bringing me closer to my goal? Am I keeping things extremely simple right now?

HAVE A PLAN B

When Something Goes Wrong in Your Life Just Yell "Plot Twist1" and Move On by zerotalking.com

Plan B is for those days when life surprises you. This has been my downfall over and over. People who are not consistent usually fail to have a Plan B. Plan B would have saved me angst during our power outage last week. Yup, this is a habit I’ve not had as successful with, but I’m working on it. (Confession: My first thought was that I failed at this habit. I’m working at changing my mindset!)

Life is a work-in-progress. So is being consistent.

Tell me, about yourself. Do you struggle with consistency? What steps do you take to be consistent?

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this blog. And thanks, in advance, for sharing your thoughts.

Credits: When something goes wrong quote and image courtesy of zerotalking.com (TinEye attributes first use of this on August 6,2013 to shadowfax42.soup.io however, I found this on dated July3, 2013 on zerotalking.)

Public Domain image “Success Golden Key “by Animated Heaven courtesy Flickr

Set Yourself on Fire for 2013

It’s a new year and many of you have set ambitious goals or resolutions. Here are some thoughts on how you might actually meet those goals this year.

The first and most important step toward success is the feeling that we can succeed. – Nelson Boswell

creative commons image of lightbulb from flickr by Diesel Demon

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

Put your boots on and keep on working!

creative commons image of workboots by David Vincent Johnson from flickr

Have you worked-like-a-demon on your story? -Tom Peters

creative commons image by mkevin747 on flickr

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.

 – Reggie Leach

creative commons image by CPSutcliffe from flickr

What do you do to set yourself on fire?  To keep yourself motivated and moving forward?

Take a moment to share and we’ll cheer you onward!

Images above are all creative commons licensed and available on flickr:
Lightbulb by DieselDemon, Workboots by David Vincent Johnson, Attacking Demon by mkevin747, and Bonfire by CPSutcliffe.

How Bad Do You Want It?

On October 14th Felix Baumgartner, Austrian skydiver, daredevil, and BASE jumper achieved his goal.

Did You Watch Him Fall Down From the Sky?


John Anealio: Vocals & Acoustic Guitar

 

If you missed the spectacular jump, watch this video:

Did you catch who his sponsor was? Red Bull! Apropos, don’t you think? See more information at the official Red Bull Stratos team website.

For more technical information about the jump, go to extremetech.com.

Baumgartner wasn’t the first to try to achieve this record. Joseph Kittinger tried it in 1960. In fact, Kittinger still holds the record for the longest time in free fall (five minutes and 35 seconds).

Lesson Learned

I don’t know about you, but I am terrified of heights.  Put me on a three foot ladder and I start to shake, make the ladder a five foot ladder and I’m hyperventilating. I could never do what Felix Baumgartner or Joseph Kittinger did.  But I admire them.  Is that admiration due to jumping out of the balloon capsule higher than anyone else? No. Is it because they fell further and faster than anyone, ever? Uh-uh. Is it because Baumgartner broke the sound barrier with his body?  Nope.

Kittinger was a fighter pilot in Viet Nam and later made extreme altitude parachute jumps for Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories.

Baumgartner did more than 2,500 skydives, seven years of preparation with the Red Bull sponsored team, two test jumps, and a three-hour ascent in a tiny, pressurized capsule lifted by an ultra-thin helium balloon. All of that for a terrifying nine minute descent, for speeds up to 833.9 miles per hour, a world record, and tons of scientific data. Data that NASA hopes will lead to improvements in spacesuits and escape plans for future astronauts.

Don’t forget that neither Kittinger nor Baumgartner could have accomplished what they did without the drive and determination of past skydivers, researchers, and scientists who developed the base knowledge and equipment necessary.

For me, reading about these men (and women) puts things into perspective. It takes a lot of hard work to reach for your dreams, to be successful.

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”

Do you have a goal that you feel may be impossible?

How bad do you want it?

The Hero of Your Story

I have spread my dreams beneath your feet.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.    –W.B. Yeats

A few years back, I decided I would make my living as a writer and would teach a ‘How to Write Fiction’ class at a local community center.

I prepared an introduction to myself and the course, a syllabus, ten lessons, in-class and at home exercises for each lesson, and reading assignments.  I rehearsed and rehearsed.  I was ready!

Finally, the day arrived.  Eight students, ranging from a high schooler to a gray-haired woman of undetermined age, waited for me.  I took a deep breath and stepped in front of the class.  I welcomed them to the class, introduced myself by name and declared “I am a professional writer.” A hand raised.  A question already?

“When did you start calling yourself a professional writer?” the student asked.  Intellectually, I had prepared an answer to that question, but emotionally prepared?  Not so much.  I couldn’t even admit to myself that I had just said it for the first time.  Instead I answered with the information I’d prepared, that I had been a professional writer since I began writing with the intent to sell what I wrote.  I think I even quoted the definition of professional to the class.

I was being truthful. My answer fit the definition of professional and my approach to writing fiction.  But, as truthful as that answer was, I had never believed it enough to say it aloud until that night.  Still, the answer seemed to satisfy the questioner.  And despite my anxiety, I got through the rest of that evening.

Fact is, I had nearly 100% attendance for all ten classes.  I ended up teaching in that community center for a couple of years.  My classes grew in size and I taught my students skills they could use to improve their writing.  I know I learned a lot.

Life happened.  I made other things a priority while my writing took a backseat to the traumas and banalities of life.

I’ve had to relearn the most important lesson I learned when teaching at that community center course: how to stand up and be who I am.

Watching the Olympics this week I am awed by the dreams we are watching. The athletes proclaim their dream with every trial, every race, every practice. Many of them are fortunate enough to have the support of their loved ones.  But most of all, they NEVER let go of their dreams.  To my mind, each Olympic athlete is a hero of his or her story.

Everyone has a dream  Maybe your dream is to be an Olympic athlete, a writer, a chef, or a plumber.  No matter what the dream is, sometimes it is hard to hang onto your dream.  You may have a hard time believing in yourself.  Your parents or your partner may be the person who belittles your dream.   It could be they call your dream cute, or a hobby, or  your ‘little’ stories.  You excuse them because it’s not really _bad_ stuff they’re saying.  Yes. It.  Is.  Stop the negative energy.

Believe in yourself.  Believe in your dream. Make it a mantra:  Mine is “I am a writer.”  Repeat it as many times a day as you need it. Declare it.  Own it.  Be your own champion. Be the hero of your own story.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.          —  Henry David Thoreau

Won’t you take a moment to share your story with me and my readers? Who or what challenges your belief in yourself? Tell us about your dream. Shout it out. We’ll cheer you onward.