We’re a few weeks out from the New Year and many of us are struggling. I don’t think I am saying anything crazy when I assert that most of us would LIKE to improve. We want to learn and grow and be better over time. No one dreams about being broke, stressed, overweight and unhappy. That’s a given and you might even laugh at that notion.
Yet, nature abhors a vacuum.
I dream of a floor I can’t find because I’m SO behind on laundry it’s more of an archaeological project than housework.
But I need to ask the hard question: If we aren’t dreaming of all that bad stuff? What are we dreaming about?
I’ve consulted countless business people and writers. Conversations are VERY telling. Some people are so afraid of failing that they never make a decision. Yet, no decision is STILL a decision. Additionally, I will talk to people, and they’ll tell me ALL the things they can’t do. Okay, tell me what you CAN do.
See, if we don’t focus on something positive, achievable and actionable, we leave a vacuum and that’s where entropy (chaos) loves to creep in.
Since no one sane is likely to have a goal of never finishing a book or living in stretchy pants forever or being sick, broke and tired, we can already dismiss this notion that we deliberately set negative goals. Most of us aren’t going to do that.
Ah, but we can end up inadvertently setting negative goals by not putting something we WANT in the vacuum.
We are born to create. Humans are creative beings. Now, we can create beauty, destruction or wasted space, but our nature IS to create. To deny our nature is a formula for frustration.
Leave a preschooler unattended ten minutes and this proves my theory. If we as parents/adults fail to provide that kid with something positive to act upon? Lord help the electronic devices, because that kid is going to test the theory of “How Many Goldfish Will Fit in the XBox?”
Thus, the first step to changing is to set goals. We’ve talked about this before and setting goals is a great start because we can’t get to a place we haven’t taken time to define.
And this is not Inspiration Guru Positive Think Your Way to Wealth Stuff. The nature of our JOB as authors has changed and we are much more active players in the business side of our business.
Show me a business with no mission statement, no business plan, no actionable and measurable goals? I’ll show you a space that will be up for rent within the year.
The Mind is POWERFUL
I love reading inspirational works. I highly recommend them. Why? Because society is seriously screwed up. And it MAKES money off keeping us screwed up, so society has zero intentions of EVER being positive and healthy.
When we were kids and wanted to be a writer or dancer or astronaut, adults all clapped and cheered. Then we hit this age when suddenly the grown-ups changed their tune. “Yeah that’s cute, but time to grow up, Kid.”
This is when most dreams die. We are bombarded with negativity. We are told that dreams are reckless, dumb, unachievable, blah blah blah. In fact, we are told this SO much, we need deprogramming or we can become our own worst enemy.
We can’t achieve what we can’t conceive. Our mind is the map, so stop letting others spill goo on your map!
This is one of the reasons I’ve done a lot of blogging about relationships and setting boundaries and limiting contact with toxic people.
We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time. People who have a new dream every other week. I wanna be an actor, no a writer, no a vacuum salesman, no a journalist!
Ditch writers (and other people) who spread stinking thinking. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs
blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.
Faith Without Works is Dead
We’ve already established that the condition of our mind and spirit is VITAL. We are going to have a really hard time achieving anything notable (like getting out of bed) if our mind is crapped up with:
I’m too old, too poor, too short. Why bother?
Okay, I gotta stop typing before I depress myself. Y’all are smart and get the idea.
However, this next step is where I believe a lot of inspiration-self-help falls short. YES, we must learn to discipline our mind and emotions. Show me a successful person and I will show you someone who developed self-discipline.
Here’s the thing. I can “envision” I have the body of an athlete all day long. It’s probably better than going around calling myself fat all the time.
But the rubber must eventually meet the road.
I need to get in the gym. What we feed will always grow stronger. If we feed the idea we can do nothing? Guess what? If we feed the idea we can achieve something remarkable? It grows. Starve out the bad and feed the good. How do we feed? With thought and ACTION.
My goal is to one day be a New York Times BSA. Great goal, but I only have limited control over this. Remember, goals should be defined and actionable. Since I am fairly sure no unfinished book has become a NYT runaway success with an HBO series, I can start with, “I am a finisher.”
This is why I don’t put a lot of stock in the Name It and Claim It. Or Envision It and It Will Magically Manifest. Yes, our will and emotions need training. When we’re new, our mind and emotions resemble a puppy that pees on the carpet and chews on shoes. Yet, wishing cannot replace working.
We can stand in the mirror and repeat, “I am a NYTBSA” over and over, but deep down, our spirit will call us a liar (because we are). BUT, if we make the goal of becoming a NYTBSA and break it down? We now have something actionable.
I am a finisher.
I prioritize writing/exercise/family/financial discipline.
Baby steps count.
I believe in sacrifice.
This is when small actions begin to reinforce our bigger ideas. When I finish cleaning out a closet, I am buttressing that new core goal that I am a finisher. When I turn down a movie to finish revisions? I have a small victory that strengthens that new belief growing inside.
Eventually these “small” victories create confidence and habits that are essential for achieving that BIG goal. Maybe I will never be a NYTBSA, but I stand A LOT better chance if I learn to finish what I start (and practice that habit in multiple areas of life).
Though it would be a super cool power, I have not wished almost 1000 blogs and 5 books into existence 😉 .
Order is NOT Natural
Yes, we are creative beings. That is our nature, but we also have to appreciate the nature of Nature.
Whoa, that was deep.
Ever gone driving in the country? Maybe to some places people haven’t been? In your travels, did you round the bend and stumble across a field of perfectly lined rows of plants producing abundant crops and no weeds in sight? It just did it on it’s own. Like all the peach trees lined up one day and rebuked all dandelions and crabgrass?
Have you run across a perfectly manicured spot of ground? You know. All the grass was lush and green and only 1.5 inches tall and the edges perfectly sharp? And nature did this all by itself?
Um, likely not.
The thing is, Nature is awesome, but it’s also chaotic. Leave a parking lot abandoned a couple years and what do you see? Nature likes weeds and chaos and rubble. There are rocks and large ant hills and, if no rain falls, the soil (at least in Texas) turns into a BRICK.
What this means is that to make the most of our nature we have to tame Nature. We are going to have to do things that are VERY unnatural. It is NOT natural to sit and write 100,000 words. It is NOT natural to choose cleaning out the garage over going to a movie. It is NOT natural to eat chicken instead of a double-fudge brownie. When in a fight with a significant other? It is NOT natural to put aside ego.
In fact, when we make these New Year’s Resolutions, the largest hurdle we have is we are now doing a LOT of stuff that is NOT natural. And thing is? For most of us?
It never will be.
I consider myself a fairly disciplined person. I work out a lot because I do Brazilian Ju-Jitsu and I take a beating 3-4 days a week (which, willingly signing up to get your @$$ kicked is NOT natural). And I do great…and then the sink breaks and Hubby gets a cold and the e-mail piles up and, because of all the chaos? I get out of the habit.
Pretty soon that next season of Warehouse 13 is looking A LOT better than going to the gym. Pthththt. I can always start back next week. And I know I was going to make chicken for dinner, but then I’d have to clean the kitchen, and…
Why is this?
It’s because as disciplined as I love to believe I am? My NATURE digs entropy. My nature LOOOOVES stretchy pants and scrunchees. My nature starts questioning the sanity of walking up 105 flights of stairs that go nowhere… O_o .
Thus all of this is to say, yes. You probably are tired and likely that diet and exercise program started collecting dust about three weeks ago. You still haven’t finished the book and on and on and on and guess what? Don’t sweat it. Just start again. Drag out the mower and edger. Keep this as a cheat-sheet:
Clean up our thoughts. Nothing edible grows in poisoned soil.
Choose friends wisely. No company better than bad company and all gardens fare better with a FENCE.
Make the big goal(s).
Break down the big goal(s) into actionable pieces.
Act on the goal(s).
Smaller successes will reinforce the belief we can ACHIEVE the goal(s). Increased confidence=increased momentum.
Understand we will always be taming our nature. When setbacks come? Understand they will. It’s just how life works. It’s life. No one gets out alive 😀 .
You got this! Have you been feeling a bit down and out? Maybe you lost sight of where you were headed? Have you struggled against your own nature? I have. Didn’t always win either. Do you find it hard to set boundaries? Are there toxic people you KNOW are poisoning you and yet you just can’t seem to get that fence built? Have you learned to become a finisher? What did you do differently?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, 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).
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.