Happy New Year! 2015 is now here and it is up to us what we will do with the time each of us is allotted. We all have heard the saying, “DaVinci had the same 7 days and 24 hours.” I would actually make a different point. Folks like DaVinci, Mozart, Shakespeare actually had LESS time.
There was no electric lighting and pulling all-nighters was a good way to go blind by candlelight. Thus, I’d say the difference is that these artists lived intentionally.
We all want to know the secret to “success.” First of all, I am going to add a caveat. “Success” is a very personal thing. What is “success” for you isn’t “success” for me. Yet, study after study shows that people who write down their goals are far more likely to reach them.
We have forced our minds to have a Mission Statement and our subconscious will use that to guide us. That is where the cool dreams and great ideas are born. Also, we are far more likely to recognize opportunity when we see it.
Living intentionally is vital because it allows us what I believe is one of the HUGE keys to reaching our dreams—learning to be an OUTLASTER.
***I learned this term from minister and speaker Craig Groeschel and it has REALLY helped me.
We can take craft classes, join a gym, type on the WIP, start a blog, but the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is that those who make it KEPT GOING, even if it was just a tiny bit of effort daily.
I began W.A.N.A. International almost three years ago, and the business setbacks alone have been crushing. It is no easy feat to reinvent publishing and writing classes and conferences as we know them. W.A.N.A. was the first to have a GENUINE global writing conference (with a HUGE thanks to Tech Surgeons and Jay Donovan). We had real classes with NYTBSAs, agents, editors and attendees from all over the globe.
***W.A.N.A. stands for We Are Not Alone, btw.
And, though we enjoyed success, it came with a heavy price. It was one kick in the teeth after another. We were working with brand new technology, trying to schedule a conference that would accommodate everyone from New York to New Zealand. We also had legal battles, turnover, betrayals, LOCUSTS!
THANK GOD I had the great W.A.N.A. instructors by my side simply because they believed in what we are doing. And we are STILL HERE!
Blogging & Writing
When I started blogging, I was THRILLED to have 40 visits a day. Granted, most were spam bots, but hey! They counted, RIGHT? One of my close writing friends and I were talking about how many people used to blog regularly 5 years ago and almost all of them are no longer blogging.
Blogging is crucial for a brand and selling books. It is the STRONGEST and most resilient form of social media, yet most people give up.
I also have noticed how many people were SO passionate about writing, would do ANYTHING to publish and write full-time. Now? Most are gone. New people filled with the wonder and dreams have taken their place, but how long will they last?
Here’s the thing. Starting is easy (okay, “easier”). It is fresh and wonderful and emotional. Starting is CRUCIAL. There might even be all kinds of people to cheer you on.
But how will you fare when the new wears off and those who pledged undying support and loyalty move on to a new shiny because we weren’t an overnight success?
The key to making it in ANYTHING from writing to business to marriage to losing weight is to become an OUTLASTER.
Traits of an Outlaster
Outlasters have clear and achievable goals.
Notice I didn’t say realistic goals. Reach for the stars and we may hit the moon. BUT, my goal to be a NYTBSA is realistic because I am a writer. If I have a goal to become a high-fashion model? Um, at a fluffy 5’3″ and 40 years old? Uh…NO.
Outlasters write down goals and have CLEAR Mission Statements.
The Mission Statement keeps us focused. We learn where to say yes and where and when to say no.
If my goal is to become a NYTBSA in the next five years, I know it is unwise to volunteer for every church event, school event, and family drama need. It becomes clear that I need to set word count based off MY goals. My word count will be very different if I want to write ONE book a year versus THREE.
Three sayings I kept with me from my days in sales?
Plan your work and work your plan.
Fail to plan and plan to fail.
Coffee is for Closers.
Outlasters understand the power of letting go.
Yes, Outlasters MUST hold on, hold on for LIFE! But to the right things.
Often letting go is more important than holding fast. This can involve letting go of hobbies, hangups and habits or even WIPs that just need to be put to bed. But the toughest? Letting go of people.
The best analogy I can think of for this is climbing Everest. If we want to climb Everest, there are teams of sherpas that guide you to the first base camp. As you go to each higher level, the team gets smaller and this is necessary.
Not everyone in our life is meant for the summit. Some could even get us killed.
I’ve had some SERIOUS issues with this. A writer I spent many years mentoring was caught on-line wholesale plagiarizing, and giving ME credit for his WONDERFUL work. This was a HARD blow to my brand and thank goodness kind people sided with me and realized HIS inexcusable behavior didn’t reflect MY character.
But, my brand was far smaller at the time. What if this happened later, when the damage could have been catastrophic? Sometimes the only thing we can be grateful for amidst the pain is TIMING.
We will mourn people we need to let go of, but often this is a good thing. We WANT the friends who believe in us even when all outside evidence says we are a failure. We never know who our real friends are when life is all kittens and unicorns. We find them (and they reach for us) in the darkness.
Outlasters Know NOTHING is WASTED
2014 was a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE year. I had to back off everything because we had so many family members die or become critically ill. Right after this past Thanksgiving, both my grandparents (who raised me) were sent to the ICU on the same day. I just got off the phone from that news and received a call five minutes later that my aunt died. This was also after four months of debilitating Shingles.
I’ve done my share of grieving, of feeling badly about what I needed to do, should do, and beating myself up. But that isn’t productive. This past year, I’ve not been the Kristen Lighting the World on Fire and yet? Most of you stayed. New people joined.
This taught me that I not only could be the light for YOU, but that y’all could also be the light for ME.
I learned the value of rest. I backed off and slept (A LOT) to remove myself from the fray and really see where my priorities needed to be. Sometimes we get so caught in the artillery fire of life that we lose our bearings.
But that lost job or lost friend? That sickness or setback might just be a gift in hiding. We choose. What can this terrible event or mistake TEACH us?
Failures can be tombstones of stepping stones. Our choice.
Luck is fabulous and would LUV me some luck. But I still believe the harder I work, the luckier I get. This said, working smarter is key. Sure, feel free to handmade all your clothes, but running to Target for new t-shirts might be a better use of time if your goal is to be a pro writer instead of a clothing designer.
There are no shortcuts. We MUST endure. And endurance can be small. It can mean we are so ill we can’t see straight, but we post a couple things on Facebook or ask a friend to guest blog…then go back to sleep. It is the small deposits and investments that accumulate over time.
But we write that book, remove that debt, lose that weight little by little. That’s what endures. Fad diets and quick fixes don’t change our character. Just like eating well and exercise should be a lifestyle, being a writer is a WHOLE new way of living. It isn’t a hobby or a thing or our little fun…it is who we ARE. Writers WRITE.
Outlasters Understand the Long-Tail
If we look at life day by day we will get discouraged. It’s kind of like going back to the gym and then getting on the scale every hour to see what’s changed. Formula for a breakdown. Outlasters just keep writing, keep failing, keep learning, keep trying and they do it over and over and over and over.
Outlasters CANNOT Succeed Alone
Part of why I created the W.A.N.A. Community is that we are who we hang around. Show me your closest friends and I’ll show you your future. We need a team, especially in The Digital Age. There is simply too much to learn or know.
Too many predators who see dollar signs over the newbie writer’s head. Conversely, there are a LOT of great people in the industry and your connections can save you time and guide you.
Find positive, professional, driven people and you WILL come up higher. Psychic vampires, whiners and complainers need to GO. Take inventory and seek out those you admire. Study them. Listen and learn from them. This is a tough road, but no one ever said we had to do it alone.
We all fall, bump our noses and bloody our knees. That is GOOD. Keep pressing. You got this 😉 .
So what are your plans for the New Year? Are you working on valuing baby steps? Reframing setbacks? Letting go of bad habits or toxic people? Any tips you might want to offer?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
I will announce December’s winner later in the week when I have had some SLEEP.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.