Showing posts with label self improvement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self improvement. Show all posts

Monday, March 21, 2016

Foundations Of A Great Blog Post

How To Cure A Writing Hangover

In this post, we'll discuss how writing without a plan can be a lot like a long night out drinking. And we'll examine the benefits of building a solid foundation for your blog article by identifying the WHO, WHAT, WHY, and HOW to prevent the hangovers.

At the beginning of March, I set out to post a new blog post every day until the end of the month.  That would equal 31 posts for the month.  3-1 posts.  That's a lot of original content to come up, write about, set images to and promote.

And as I got into the project, I found it harder and harder to meet my deadlines.

It was thrilling to attempt that much content - I even planned (and had) extra posts written, just sitting around as drafts as just-in-case scenarios that may have come up.

And I still failed. 

Still, when thinking about it, I wrote a ton of words, but the failure to miss a publishing day felt much like a hangover.

I wrote about how to set and achieve goals, time management tips and how to improve your productivity by defining your passion, commitment and establishing discipline.

There were posts about how planning is a central cinderblock to success.

Again, I still failed.

It was an ambitious goal of mine, especially knowing my personal weakness. It was a fun ride while it lasted, a little too fun.  And by failing - even by a couple of minutes as I did on Saturday (posting at 12:03 am Sunday) - I didn't write yesterday because of a writing "hangover."

Confidence Is Experiential: How Doing Builds Our Ability To Do It Again

When this project started, I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off.  So I announced the plan publicly even though research suggests that by announcing my goals, I had less of a chance to pull it off.

But there were a number of things I learned along the way that will help me continue the challenge, or in my next one.

For example, in trying to be something, I'm not - a more prolific writer - I learned the power of planning, outlining, and still fell short.

Yup, I'm a slow writer - slow in the sense that I like to churn ideas around in my head for a while, making it condense and solidify for great effect and flavor - it's a lot like making ice cream.  If you go to fast, the ice cream doesn't freeze, too slow and the ice cream becomes too frozen, like ICED cream.

For me, my style is that I like to gestate an idea for days before committing it to paper.  Thinking about the factors that will allow the story to have a solid foundation, timeline, and a complete arc to the concept takes me a while.  Like a great pot roast is best at low temperatures and over time, my writing is like slow cooking.

Think about the foundations of your posts as needing to include:

Foundations of A Great Blog Post:

  • WHO: Who is going to read this post?

  • WHAT: What is the idea you're trying to convey? 

  • WHY: Why should they care about your post?

  • HOW: How is the post going to help your reader?

Once these foundations are established, you can then go about shaping your article.

Thinking about your reader and what idea you have to share with them, as well as why they should care and how the idea/topic/concept will help them, will go a long way to helping you, the writer, stay on task and create something worthwhile.

Finally, it's awesome you want to share with the world.

Trying to make sense of those people and events around us, about our existence and what it means, are the motivations behind many artists and why they get into the arts in general.

But understand, the reader can be selfish.  So tell them what they can benefit from and why they should care. It's by showing them your work, your process and that you're interested in helping them that will make the biggest difference in your writing.

Remember, enjoy yourself, but don't overindulge.  It's not about you. If you make it about yourself, you may end up with a hangover of sorts.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Find The Solutions In Your Failure


We've all dealt with failure of some sort in our lives.

Defined simply as:
"lack of success."
Failure is simply anything other than a desired or expected outcome.

Perhaps you played a sport and lost a game that you coulda, shoulda, woulda won.

You tried out for a play but couldn't remember the lines.

In high school, you sat in class dreaming of asking Sam to a dance.  One day you finally get up the courage to ask.  So you approach with caution in the hall way, approach them at the locker and ask.  They laugh in your face.

Or you set out to accomplish a goal of publishing 31 posts in 31 days, only to fall short of the deadline one Saturday night by 3 minutes.  That means I didn't complete the task I wanted to achieve.

At the family birthday party you show up late and no matter how you slice the cake, there's not enough to go around.  So you don't get a piece.

Failure is only the end if we don't take what we learn and apply it to a new avenue, a new endeavor, a reset of the same goal.

Failure then, is when you quit.

The trick is to continue to find solutions where none appear to exist.

When discussing his problem with the electric lighbulb Thomas Edison is quoted as saying;
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work." 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Research Behind Why You Fail Your At Your Goals

How We Benefit From Incremental Gains

We set goals in order to accomplish them.  Or at least that's how the thinking goes.

We create plans on how we're going to get to the finish line.  We repeat these behaviors everyday hoping to see some improvement.

But more often than not, we fail.

Why is it that once we set a goal, we're more likely than not to fail?

Some goals we set may be too improbable, or impossible even.

It could be a lack of time, energy or resources.

Perhaps it was too unclear. The path to achievement too unsure.

Most likely we didn't focus on the right things.

If we focus our attention on micro-accomplishments, we have a much greater opportunity at succeeding on the goals we set.

When I started this blog, it was to document my process of using kindle publishing as a platform for my short stories.

Along the way I learned that short stories are a hard, difficult trek.

But I kept on writing.

I may not have published more stories lately, but I've published a number of blog posts covering a wide swath of topics (some may say too many topics): posts on how to improve productivity, goal setting, time management, and confidence building through experience.

But the point of this post is to focus on the power of micro-accomplishments as fuel toward achieving your goals.

The Power Of Micro-Gains

In a post on James Clear's blog, about the aggregation of marginal gains he tells the story of a coach for the British cycling team.  The focused on making just 1% improvements on the small details, from the obvious like nutrition for an athlete, all the way down to what type of pillow would allow each cyclist to get the optimal level of rest and recovery.

With proper execution, the goal was to finish as champions of the Tour de France in 5 years.

The coach was wrong.  It only took 3 years to be named champions.

The idea was that the aggregate amount of each of this small improvements were easier to accomplish, simpler to maintain and would result in a much greater output in results.

It was the ultimate implementation of the concept: "The sum of the parts is greater than the whole."

Seeing your goals through to the end is an important first step.  But knowing what steps to take in order to achieve your objective is even more important.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Plan The 20% Of Your Efforts That Yields the Best Results

What's Your Process

Productivity is a by product of efficient process.

Procrastination is another.

In a previous post we discussed how defining your passion would improve your productivity.

In another recent post we discussed the myth of hyper-productivity.

There've been articles and posts about how to improve your productivity, better time management tips and ideas for self-improvement.

All of these concepts are by-products of another concept put to action, and that is "process."

Process is defined as "a serious of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end."
 It is, in other words, what you do in a sequence of steps to achieve a desired outcome.

If you want to train for a marathon, there are a series of training methods and ideas to help.  Of course you need to train the requisite number of times - i.e. be "in shape" to best run a marathon, but a process of training would help you maximize your ability.

If you want to learn a foreign language, there are ways to learn quickly, but for most people and most learners, there's a process of language acquisition that takes a dedicated amount of repetition over extended time.

One of the more important concepts in the school of productivity and process is the Pareto Principle.

Otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto Principle is the idea that you get 80% of your results from 20% of your actions.

Understanding this dynamic between effort and outcome is crucial to your overall success. By focusing on the 20% that yields the best 80% of your results, you'll accomplish more with less effort.

The trick then, is to develop a process that builds on the 20% that yields the highest gains.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How To Squeeze The Most Out Of Your Day

How To Find The Energy To Pursue Your Goals Even When You're Exhausted

There are days when life seems to conspire against you.

For me, today is one of those days.

It's 11:30 pm, the end of the day for most of us, me included.

The dog and cat are sleeping, as is my girlfriend.

All my friends are either asleep or out doing something fun - but if they are, eff'em for not inviting me.

I haven't gotten around to writing today's post. I didn't have time.

There were phone calls to make, meetings to schedule, plans to make, take care of the dog and on top of that, there was work to be done.

I could complain, but everyone has things that are going to be obstacles in their way. It wouldn't mean much to any of you if I did.

The point is, once you set a goal, the best way to achieve it is in pieces.

Look, everyone has the same amount of minutes and hours in a day.  Nobody gets extra credit for their day.

The thing to understand then, is that there will always be obstacles. There will always be challenges that you need to find a way to overcome.  

What defines your opportunity at success then, is how you handle the obstacles, the challenges, the limitations that will undoubtedly be placed in front of you.

The key to success then is that unless you have unlimited amount of time for a particular project, you need to set aside time in small blocks.  Use the concept of prioritization to set the most important tasks you need to accomplish in front of the ones that are of lessor importance.

Once you've prioritized the order at which you need to work on them, break each task into even smaller portions and work on those, one at a time.

Even with a demanding day, if you prioritize your tasks into order of importance, then break them down into small porting that can easily be finished, you'll get more done in less time.

Finally, if something is on deadline but not the most important task, find small minutes you can steal throughout the day to devote time and mental energy toward.

Like this post, I spent the day working on things that I needed to do before getting around to writing it.  But I was thinking about the topic, how to approach it, and what tone and POV to write it in. And that was so that once I could type it out, I had a general idea of what to say.

It's now 11:48 and I have 12 minutes to spare to get this published to accomplish my goal of 31 posts in 31 days without interruption.

Sometimes goal setting is just as tough as everything else.

The follow through is even harder if you don't learn how to manage the obstacles along the way.

(published at 11:53pm)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Beware the Ides of March

Failure To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail

This is a short post today about the process of trying to write 31 posts for the month of March.

It's a true challenge, I'm not going to lie.

I have two really long pieces I'm working on right now and those seem to take more time than I have available to finish them.  Especially with trying to keep the publishing schedule that I announced. 

Perhaps that's the ides of March I should be wary of.

The significance of the ides of March was made famous by William Shakespeare.

In his play, Julius Ceasar, a soothsayer warned Ceasar to "Beware the ides of March," otherwise the day of his assassination at the hands of the Roman Senate.

Over time, the idea has taken many different meanings, to wit:

The assassination of Caesar isn't the only major historical event to happen on March 15.

For example, the ides of March was the day that Roman citizens had to pay outstanding debts.

Christopher Columbus returned to Spain after his first voyage to the New World.

The last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, abdicates in 1917.

In 1985, the very first Internet domain name, is registered.

So there are good things that can happen on March 15.

I just wouldn't want to be Ceasar.

Or the Roman citizenry - I haven't finished my taxes yet and a month is a lot of extra time.

I didn't plan the month of March out very well, but as they say - if you fail to prepare, you've prepared to fail.

Monday, March 14, 2016

How To Transform Your Thinking And Get Everything You Want

The Value Of Experience And Confidence 

Something's been on my mind all day.


What is it?

Why do we struggle with it at times, especially when we've done something over and over and over again?

Is there something innate in us that makes us doubt ourselves, or some other outside force?

I read an interesting post today on Mary Jaksch blog, Write To Done.  If you're unfamiliar with Mary or her blog, you're missing out.  It's a wonderful blog about all things writing, from freelance to topics on writing and everything in between.

Today's blog post discussed a common fear we all share.

The Fear Of Being Discovered

Discovered as the fraud we writers imagine ourselves to be and ways to work through it.

The post was written by Sonia Thompson who is founder of Try Biz School, a great resource for helping others build their dream business.

The post titled "How To Keep Writing Even When You Feel Like A Fraud" lays out common struggles that we writers all share (and I'm sure other creative types, as well as any one who shares anything worthwhile).

For example, one of the common issues we deal with is that we are a by-product of our environment growing up (Nature vs. Nurture anyone?).  Think about it a little.  We are raised by our parents, attend schools that help reinforce certain behaviors and expectations, and we strive to fulfill them.

It's when we feel we fall short of these expectations and roles that are rooted in our psyche that we develop a sense of being an imposter.

The Myth Of Overnight Success

Another cause of the feeling like a fraud is if we do something that appears to come easy.

Take the example of Elizabeth Gilbert, writer of Eat, Pray, Love.  She dealt with "instant" success that garnered a lot of attention, made into a movie and a book deal.  She struggled with the idea that she wrote something amazing, easily, and the expectations were to replicate it.

She struggled to write her next book and guess what?  It didn't do very well.  But she was fine with it, because she knew the value of her experience working on her craft.

Keep in mind that as the person who sweated, toiled and worked for years to perfect our craft, we know it wasn't easy but a rather long, hard road. And the knowledge you learned is priceless and the experience gained, invaluable.

  Pablo Picasso is rumored to have best illustrated this in a story about being approached by an admirer while sitting in a cafe in Paris.  The admirer asked Picasso for a quick sketch, and Picasso agreed.

Using a napkin, Picasso sketched out his "Dove of Peace" and handed it toward the admirer but not before asking for a rather large sum of money in return.  The admirer, stunned, said "how could you ask for so much?  It took you a minute to draw this!" To which, Picasso replied succinctly, "No, it took me 40 years."

(Thanks to Brian Braun's excellent short post on the Napkin Wisdom on Experience and Pricing)

Since we, as people, are social creatures by nature, it only makes sense that we struggle with being discovered as less than we project.

But understand, you are an expert at what you do.

You've studied the craft and honed the skills for years and the idea that you can just whip out something in mere minutes that appears to be easy, was actually paid for in years of hard work.

If you're interested about more articles on Mary Jaksch blog Write To Done, just click Mary's name.

You can get more information about Sonia Thompson's Try Biz School by clicking her name.

Read Brian Braun's excellent post Picasso's Napkin Wisdom on Experience and Pricing.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

One Hack To Skyrocket Your Writing Productivity

The Efficiency Hack To Make Your Content Easier To Blog

This post is about one simple hack that you will skyrocket your productivity and will make it incredibly easier to write and publish on a regular basis.

Here's why:

Today is about the simple things.

It's a Sunday evening, all across America people are stretching out preparing for the week ahead.  Daily Savings Time (DST) was last night, so many are probably a little groggy and tired from losing an hour of sleep.

But that fatigue won't change for the week ahead.  See, not only do we "gain more sunlight" with DST, we also get sleep deprived.  Losing an hour of sleep, and disrupting your circadian rhythm can take a week or more to adjust.

Ask any traveler who travels through multiple time-zones.  Internationally it would take you a few days just to even get into a rhythm sleeping.  A week and you're just starting to regain your sense of self and sleep.

With that in mind, this article is about one simple hack you can make that will help ease any content creation demands.

On a blog called VideoFruit, I stumbled on a post that talked about a hack the author uses to write incredibly lengthy posts in less time.

His secret?


The author discusses how he uses a simple process to make lengthy content in quick fashion.

I've shortened the steps by 1, and you can source the information in the original article by clicking THIS LINK.

  1. Outline and Plan your content
  2. Use a voice recorder and discuss your outline in detail
  3. Transcribe your content as a post
  4. Doctor it up a little, or as the author says, pretty it up  

Pretty simple and useful I think.

Whelp, that's about it. Until next time.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

In Retrospect - How We Understand By Looking Backward

Just Look At How Far We've Come! 

How to look backward to mark your progress moving forward.

Anytime we set out on a new journey, one that we value but greatly underestimate the commitment it's going to take, and how we measure success, can be difficult.  How we set out to achieve goals and goal setting is both enthralling and fraught with peril at the same time.

The footing on our new path can be treacherous, slick and unsure.

I'm watching a new Netflix show called "Flaked" with Will Arnett. Based in Venice, it's about a drunk who drove under the influence and ended up killing someone and is working to amend the past.

There's a great opening quote:

"Life must be lived forward but can only be understood backwards"

Or in my own paraphrase; "we stare forward and only in the past can we see."

Take it for what it is. But the point is that in retrospect we have a much better idea of what we did.

Let's put this in another way, once I dated an incredible woman. Smart, engaging, social, she also said something about how we reflect on things in our past and are able see them more clearly. She worked with clients on goal setting, accomplishment and success.  She was a business and life coach by trade, and a caring woman by nature.

She claimed that while we're in the moment of living we can't see our destination. It's too hard to see the forest for the trees.

But if we think about it like sailing, we leave the port and if we only focus on the outcome, we fail to see how far we've truly come.  By looking backward from where we left, can we really see how far it is we've come on our journey.

Anytime we set out on a new journey, we need to stay focused on the steps we need to take to accomplish our goal, but only by reflecting on the progress we've made do we really understand the layers of our successes.

Oh and my review of "Flaked" - a little serious, a little dramatic but in the first episode it misses on making any real connection with the audience. Truthfully though, I can watch anything that has Will Arnett and will give the series a few more chances.

After that I'll have a better idea of what the show is working toward thematically.

In retrospect we see.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Defining Your Passion Will Take Your Productivity From Good To Great

What's Your Passion? 

There are countless charlatans, Internet Marketers, and 'Self-Help Guru's' that claim they can help you find your passion.

Find it they say, and everything else will fall into place.

The claims they make about productivity, self-improvement, entrepreneurship and goal setting all comes down to the idea of passion.

Passion.  That's the subject of discussion today.

Everyone knows what passion feels like, but how do you define it?

Let's play a little simple game.


It's late at night, you're alone, not quite asleep but not awake either.

It's dark and quiet.

Until the knock on your door.

You check your phone, it's late, you don't have any text messages or missed calls.

It's not cold outside but it's not warm either, so you slowly sit up in bed before turning on the lamp from off your nightstand; in no-time you've wrapped a robe around you, and switch don the sequence of lights to the bedroom, into the hall, toward the living room and front porch.

The whole of your house is now glowing with LED light as you unbolt the door.

You crack it open and POOF, nobody's there.

You start to close the door and it's jarred open.  Not by a hand, not a foot or tool, but by something. 

Where it's head should be is a long snout with a tail switching around like a cat tail.  Long and slender the proportions seem almost human, but not quite. Panicked you push harder, only to have the door fling open and as this thing stands in the foyer.  You stare right into its milky, opaque eyes. It looks like a blind man, no, not a man, but a man-thing.

It opens it's mouth, it's lips pull back to reveal teeth like long, razor-sharp stalagmites before it makes a noise that is simultaneously a squeak-click before a calming, soothing baritone says to you:

"I'm ZCHvKcl - or in your tongue, Greg.  Where I'm from is insignificant, but I have a number of questions.  If I may, I have a short amount of time before your atmosphere eats away at my lungs, may I ask you three questions about humanity, and in return I'll tell you about the future of your species?"
 What would you answer?

Would you want to know what is in the future?

Would you humor a seemingly non-threatening creature?

Would you take the time to answer him, knowing that the answer to the future of humanity is the reward?

What Would You Do?

He wants to understand why we fight, we we wage war on one another when it's entirely obvious we are the same species.  So why are we inclined toward violence to resolve our issues?

The second question is about why we treat the only hospitable place we know of so poorly?  We pollute our water, belch gas into the air we breath, and depose of our refuse in the ground we need to grow our food.

Finally the third question.  He (assuming it's a "he") wants to know about passion.  What is it, why do we all claim it and act upon it?

How would you respond?

Passion is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:
"1)  a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something 
2)  a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way 
3)  a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone"
In this case, let's focus on the first definition.

Let's break down the definition of passion into it's clauses.

  • A strong feeling - we all have those, but how does that help us?  - 
  • of enthusiasm or excitement - this is a little better, it allows us to understand what we should be feeling - 
  • for something or about doing something - Ah ha!  It's about getting something done in a strongly emotional way. 

So how do you answer you're visitor?  What does passion mean to you?

If you tell him that it's about a strong excitement to do something, you've defined passion better than most.

When you hear, "what's your passion" or "find your passion, find your path," know that it's about finding that one thing that you can do with ebullience and joy.

It's the thing you want to do rather than sleeping or eating, or in some instances even sex.

For some, it's music, with others it's writing.

For painters it's about the colors and brushstrokes. There are people who absolutely love cooking and can spend a whole day in the kitchen without knowing if a nuclear weapon went off outside.

Your passion is the thing you can do and lose all track of time, all sense of the outside world.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

7 Quick Hacks To Improve Your Productivity

7 Simple Hacks To Better Your Productivity

How do you become more productive?  Is it something that is undefinable or is there a way to improve your productivity?

There are all types of definitions on productivity and various metrics on determining what makes someone more productivity. For example, in Chron magazine, they define the concept of productivity through the metrics of employee output divided by the hours taken to accomplish that specific metric.

1 - Do What You Can Complete The Fastest: 

A task like taking the trash out should only take a couple minutes.  Get it done as early as possible.  The point is to get it done so that it doesn't interfere with your workflow later. Additionally, as discussed on the Simple Programmer blog, doing the easiest tasks first gets small, incremental gains accomplished and gives you momentum toward accomplishing more difficult tasks.

2 - Stop Multi-Tasking:

Concentration and focus are twin engines toward accomplishment.  The idea that we are more productive juggling different tasks is just plain wrong.  Try reading a book while talking about a topic completely disconnected from the material you're reading.  It's an impossible task.  Our brains can't handle that type of input/output effectively, it takes an extra-level of concentration and while you may be able to masterfully handle one of these tasks, you can't master both.

3 - Tackle The Most Difficult First:

There's an article on Lifehacker that details the importance of tackling the most difficult tasks first. In it, the discussion is about knowledge acquisition and how when we first set out to learn something, we read about the details until we grasp them.  Slowly mastery of the subject grows, but the emphasis is on the idea that to learn the concepts on a meta-level, you first need to take on more challenging tasks to learn.  Second, with a finite amount of will power and energy to devote to any particular task, doing the most difficult tasks first will allow you to complete more tasks overall.  Why? Because getting the difficult ones out of the way first, we devote large amounts of energy to them, so that when we get to simpler tasks, we are utilizing an appropriate amounts of will power to those tasks.

4 - Break Large Important Tasks Into Small Ones:

Every marathoner knows that in order to train for a marathon, you have to segment your training into smaller, more manageable distances.  The reasons for this are two-fold: First, it's extremely taxing to run the distances, and Second, the amount of time needed to recover is built-in to this training concepts. You need to think big, act small to better your productivity output.

5 - Use The Pomodoro Technique:

The Pomodoro Technique is a tactic that the person utilizing it sets a timer for a short amount of time, typically 20 minutes.  During the length of time allowed, the person works as intensely as they can and at the conclusion of the timer, they take a short break, typically 5 minutes, from the tasks. This is the 80/20 rule broken into time.

6 - Pace Yourself - Set A Time Limit And Take A Break:

Even as you implement a technique like the Pomodoro one discussed above, research is proving that more productive work is done after an immediate break or vacation. The reason for this is the recovery time allows you to regain energy stores much like an athlete or author.  For the athlete, they know that they have to break down their training into cycles and phase those with proper recovery time.  Ideally recovery needs to be 6x the work load, i.e. 2 hours of work, 12 hours of recovery. Every author knows that while they don't want to break the momentum of their writing, they also need time to think and relax from what the work they were doing previously.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine discusses the importance of breaks influencing productivity. The New York Times emphasized the point even more in their article titled "Relax, You'll Be More Productive!"

One way to recuperate and speed up your recovery time is simple: Get More SLEEP

7 - Don't Believe The Myth Of Hyper-Productivity:

We all have limitations. Limitations can exist in our physical endurance, mental willpower, finances, genetics, even sociability. We also only have the same amount of hours as everyone else.  24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That doesn't mean that you can be productive the entire time.  It's a falsehood, one that is perpetuated by the stereotype of the "Puritan Work Ethic."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Toughest Test

The Hardest Day

While in class my Senior year of high school, it was final exams of the Fall semester.  I had spent the three years after my freshman year turning my academics around.  What had started as a near "Blutarski" G.P.A. of 0.8 at the conclusion of 9th grade, was nearing a 3.0 cumulative. Not the best, but hey, considering where it started, I was pretty damn proud.

I had really gained some steam in school.  I finally felt like I had mastered the material, I had studied my ass off and was more than ready for the exams.

I had swim practice on Monday night.  While the pool was warm, the deck and air was freezing.  It was January after all. I swam a couple hours, feeling the ache each yard put me through.  My arms were spaghetti, my legs burned.

It was a great training.

Afterward, I headed home to finalize my preparation for the exams that started the next day.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up with a flu.  I had a fever, was exhausted and couldn't move without pain.

But I didn't tell anyone.  So I went to class, took my first two exams before heading home and falling into bed for the day.

I didn't go to class the rest of the week, the flu took me down for a few days.  I had to take incomplete grades for each class I missed, and had to retake them once I could schedule the time.

I was unfortunately docked 10% for the delay in taking my exams.  For a couple of them, it was over a month before I was able to take the make-up exams.

I did alright, but I'm positive that I would have fared much, much better had I been able to take them when they were scheduled.

Overcome Your Challenges

Sometimes there are challenges that we face, things that present themselves to be overwhelming.

These challenges can seem like mountains too big to climb, valleys too deep to descend, chasms too wide to jump,  and oceans too broad to swim.

The challenge than, is to find a way to climb, dig, traverse, fly-over or traverse.

Life can be difficult.  It's definitely precious.

The challenge isn't our perception of the problem, rather, it's how we continue on our journey in the face of it.

In memoriam: Pete

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Get Going! Why You Need To Get Started With Self-Improvement Goals Even When You're Not Ready

In middle school, I was just as awkward as everyone else.

Not Me BTW

That's not true.

I was more awkward than everyone else I knew.

My braces and spacers came with headgear, that thankfully I only had to wear while I slept.

I wrote my own stories - talked about comics with my brother as if they were real (they were and are!), would spend hours staring at walls to watch shadows move.

At family dinners and gatherings, I'd put headphones on and hide behind couches and chairs. Often I wouldn't be listening to anything, the batteries of my walkman (yes, "walkman" - look it up) having died some days before and I didn't have the money or resources to replace them. 

This post is about how getting started at working toward a goal can lead to even better, sometimes unintentional benefits.

But looking back on that period of my life, all of those problems seem so simple to me now. 

As I was in middle school, confidence was a huge issue.  

I struggled every day to feel a sense of fitting in or being normal. It probably didn't help that I moved between two different middle schools in my area.  

My parents wanted to try them out for my siblings, and being the oldest, I was the crash-test dummy as it were.  You know the crash-test dummy.  They're the mannequins researchers strap into a seat, from cars to airplanes and use to test the types of impact a body may go through in various degrees and speeds of impact.  

Zits were another issue.  

As were my forearms.  

They stung like someone had performed a painful surgery on them while I slept.

I dreamed it was a little doctor in a white lab coat, with a head mirror and stethoscope wrapped around his neck like a waiting boa constrictor while his nurse straps me down on a gurney. 

After a bit, the surgical lighting would be turned on, and he'd perform his magic. Without sound or noise, he'd put extenders into the marrow of my ulnar and radius. Once he was done with my arms, he'd move to my legs.  He inserted the same separators into my shin bones, making them feel like they were bamboo splinters, fiber breaking apart in every direction, and then Poof, he'd be gone.

Until the next visit anyway. My growth spurts hurt like hell. 

But I figure everyone had the same experience with growth spurts.  So that was nothing new.

The one thing that I struggled with, and still do, was my weight.  I always felt too big for my pants and shirts.  I always felt to be like Chris Farley in the movie Tommy Boy: 

Fat Guy In A Little Coat


So knowing that exercise is an important factor to weight loss, one day I put on my shoes - probably a pair of beat up Converse - this is before the running shoe industry was so omnipotent - and went for a run around the neighborhood.  In my beat up Converse and Levi's and whatever shirt I was wearing already, I went running.  

When a small, overweight middle schooler is running around the neighborhood in regular clothes, the neighbors probably thought it was a bizarre sight to behold.

For poor old Mrs. Swearinger, looking out from the nook of her kitchen window, she probably wondered what had gotten into me. She already knew that we had a bizarre home environment, but now that I was running down the block in the same clothes I had gone to school in earlier, it probably seemed that something was wrong.

Perhaps there was a fire and she should call 9-1-1.  Or perhaps my puppy "Tootsie" got loose and I was running after her.

Maybe she even called my house wondering if everything was ok. 

I don't know what she did that day.

More importantly I didn't care.  

All I knew is I wanted to start running. 

So I did. 

Over time my interest in exercise led me down a path that I never imagined.  

In high school I joined various teams.  Even played a few sports in College.  

And got into coaching for a long time.  Coaching allowed me to work with some amazing colleagues, and mentor a number of outstanding young people, and travel the world. 

All because I went running one day. 

Sometimes our actions can lead to some incredible unintended results.  

But you have to get off your butt and do something to find out. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Get Along Little Doggies! The Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup 

On Tuesday March 1st I set out to challenge myself to write 31 posts in 31 days.

The point of the exercise was to see if I could maximize my output with the tips I preach within the blog.

So far, the most difficult aspect has been deciding on the type of content to write and in what order.

With that in mind, Monday's will emphasize what has already been written. It's a roundup of all my articles the previous week here at

So, without further ado - here's the roundup for March 1-7.

Tuesday March 1 - How To Get S#!T Done!

It's all about the process and this post discusses my individual challenges about trying to write, and publish, multiple articles in a week.

In this post, I discuss the value of showing your work, as discussed by Austin Kleon in his book "Show Your Work"- a short, quick read that I have gotten into lately.

I used the image of a sausage maker for you, the reader, to grasp the analogy that it's all about the process and me showing you how I go about blogging.

Wednesday March 2 - How To Invert Your Publishing Calendar And Engage More Readers

This is the actual announcement that I'm on a 31 day publishing challenge.  I discuss why publishing the first two articles actually makes more sense.

By being out of sequence the idea was to generate some interest in the challenge by showing my process before announcing my publishing ambitions.

One caveat here: That announcing my goals is proven to actually limit the chances of success.  In the post I discuss (and link) an article that discusses the research behind it.  You can click (and link) to see the article, or click HERE.

Thursday March 3 - How To Make Your Success EPIC

Rarely do you hear someone say; "Man I enjoy being mediocre."  For those that do aspire for the average, this post isn't for them.

In it, the emphasis is by getting off your "duff" and do something.  Fear is for the timid.  Doing is for the brave.

Make It Epic

The point is, we learn more by doing than sitting on the sidelines and if you have something you want to accomplish, the only way to see it happen is to MAKE it happen.

Friday March 4 - The Myth Of Hyper-Productivity

Having just preached that you need to get off your butt and do something, along comes a contradictory warning about the dangers, and lies, of doing too much.

Everywhere we turn these days, we're inundated with the concept that success is by hustling more than others.

It's a myth that we developed as a society, one that is as antiquated as it is based on falsehoods.

There's plenty of research you can find that proves we need to rest as much as we are active, and productivity research shows that without periods of reset, we actually reach a point of diminishing returns much faster.

Good luck with running that marathon after going on a 100 mile bike-ride...

Saturday March 5 - The Executioner's Revenge (Part One)

In Part One of this two-part article, I lay out 4 necessary steps that will guarantee success for any goal, or objective, you set out to accomplish.

As we've discussed earlier, it's about the process that gives you the highest chance for success.

Phase 1 is to plan.  Plan as if you know every minor detail, every major hurdle that will come your way.  But know that there are going to be circumstances beyond your control.

Phase 2 is to take action.  You can kill yourself in the details, if you allow it.  But by taking action, often before you feel ready, you're going to learn what is, and is not, going to work for you.

Knowledge is experiential, and you can only learn by doing.

So sit down and make a plan.  Then get off the couch and get running, or jumping, or whatever.

But just get started on something.

Because it's all about phase 3 that is the most important factor to your success.


Sunday March 6 - The Executioner's Revenge PART TWO

In Part One of this two-part article, I lay out the need for planning and action as two of the four most important factors influencing whether you're successful or not.

In Part Two,  I discuss the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR toward your chance at success.

That deciding factor is: Recalibrate your self.

First, you planned. Next you acted.  But now you need to take stock of where you are, how far you've gone and what changes you need to make in order to create the clearest path to your goals.  If you're able to be flexible and reset your trajectory, you have the best chance for success.

So that's the week 1 round-up.  As Lloyd Christmas says in the movie Dumb and Dumber:

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Knowing How To Execute Is The Most Important Factor Toward Your Success

The Executioner's Revenge Part Two

(To Read Part One - Just Click Anywhere On This Link)

There once was a famous football coach in the US.

He coached the Trojans of USC to some Rose Bowl victories and 4 National Championships (kinda big deal), but he grew bored with college, joined an expansion team in the National Football League in 1976.

When asked about the difference between College and the Pros, he was quoted as saying;

"I  don’t know what this pro football mystique is. I’ve gone to the pro camps. They throw the ball; they catch the ball. Many of them are ex-USC players. I’m not amazed at what they do. I’ve watched the pros play. They run traps; they pitch the ball, they sweep. What else is there?
- John McKay, in Sports Illustrated"

3) Evaluate And Rededicate

You set out to make some changes, to set some goals and accomplish them.

What you did so far is:

1) Make a plan

2) Set that plan in motion

And now things aren't where they should be. You aren't getting the results you wanted or expected.

After you take action, probably the most important step is to evaluate what has gone right and what went wrong.

It's this third phase that is perhaps the most important in determining your odds for success.

John McKay is instructive on the importance of evaluation.  He chose to deal with his team their struggles through humor.

That team? The hapless, bumbling Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Even though these were professional athletes in a professional league, they had some serious limitations.

Some of the players were over-the-hill and too old for peak performance.  Some were just not that talented and hence, why they were allowed to be exposed to an expansion draft in the first place.

Regardless, these were men who had played a sport at the highest collegiate levels; men who worked to perfect their craft over decades of repetition.  Yet they still were bad as a team.

Horrible even.

They set a record for single-season futility at 0-14 (losing every game) that lasted for over 32 years.

They also set a record for most consecutive losses between the 1976 and 1977 losing the next 10 games.

At the depths of it all, Coach John McKay was asked about how poorly his team had played and his reaction to their lackluster showing.

In a moment that is forever linked between what he should've filtered and absolute honesty, the coach was asked a series of questions culminating in one timeless exchange:

"Coach! What do you think about your offense's execution?"

At which he replied, "I'm in favor of it."

Some of his more notable quips included these classics:

After a lackluster defensive effort in a game with a lot of miscues:

Reporter: "Coach, what are your thoughts on those missed tackles?"

John McKay: "We didn't tackle well, but we made up for it by not blocking."


On the concept that a newly built team such as his expansion NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late '70's:

Reporter: "Coach how much does experience play into your lack of wins so far, and going into the upcoming season, how will your experience as a team effect this year's wins and losses?"

John McKay: "If you have everyone back from a team that lost ten games, experience isn't too important."

The point of these quotes from Coach McKay is that it doesn't matter your experience, or your game plan if you can't execute and evaluate your plan, it doesn't matter.

4) Recalibrate Your Trajectory And Blast Off

How you set out to plan is important.

More important is how you act once your plan is in motion.

Because for every plan you create, there are inevitable factors that create uncontrolled circumstances.

Things that you absolutely cannot plan for and things that cause you to be more flexible than you imagined.

As the Robert Burns poem - To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With A Plough - warns the reader:

"...the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry."

So in the end, you need to plan; do, evaluate and create new action from the original plan. There's always going to be some disruption to your goal.  But by knowing this ahead of time, you create a circular flow toward the most important factor toward your success:


Saturday, March 5, 2016

How Executing These 4 Steps Will Guarantee You Succeed At Anything

It's All About The Execution - The Executioner's Revenge Part One

(To read Part Two Click This Link)

Too often we think about the results of what we want, and get lost in the big picture.  It's often what is difference between our chance for success and the possibility of failure.

What separates the truly successful from those that get-by?

The successful know that the difference between success and failure is minute, but the minute details are what make the difference.

This post is a two-part discussion about the differences between success and failure and what is ultimately, the factor most important.

And that is the execution of a plan.

Bear with me.

This post is going to have plenty of sports metaphors - and will be published in two parts - but the point of the post is that the difference between success and failure is often one of execution.

Success and failure are often separated by mere inches, or seconds, in sports.

In life and business that line is one that is often times subjective.

It's subjective to an opinion of the audience and can shift just as a line is drawn in the sand -which, is why I don't like the term, line in the sand - if the wind blows, what then?

Success and failure are twins often separated by a razor fine line

Sure, if you're keeping score, the one with the highest score at the end is the winner.

Except in golf.  That s#!t's cray-cray.

The lowest score wins the hole, but it's kept track by the honor system.  When I hear people talk about their golf scores, their handicaps and how far they can drive the ball, a couple of thoughts come to mind.

  1. I'm reminded of Mark Twain's quote; "Golf is a good walk ruined."
  2. Regarding scorekeeping I think: "You walk around, often drinking, keeping score with a small pencil on a pad.  You keep your own score, and there isn't a judge or monitor to see you're recording it correctly.  And then I think if accountants were able to be this loose and free while drinking mind you, would you still hire them to do your taxes?
  3. When they talk about their drive game, basically they are telling you they have advanced degrees in surveying.  How else can the professionals drive an average of 280+ yards, but any amateur is driving 285+ yards.  Then I wonder to myself, "wow - all these golfers are experts at determining distances, what did I miss in school that I can't tell 6 inches from half a foot?"
  4. Once again I'm reminded of Mark Twain's quote; "Golf is a good walk ruined."  

It doesn't matter the strengths and weaknesses of the plan.

There are 4 stages of planning and most important, executing that plan that will dictate the best opportunity for success.

Those stages each feed on the other and if done properly, bring you full circle.

1) The Planning Stage: Think of all things that you want to accomplish.

2) The Doing Stage: Get out there and get started.

3) Evaluation Stage: Mistakes are made.  Things happen.

4) The Success Stage - Execution come full circle - You need to use the data from all three previous stages and get back to work on your path.

1) If You Plan For Success, You Succeed At Planning

Every plan has holes; every day has ups and downs.  In concept, it's the understanding of those fluctuations that make a plan an effective one.

While it's definitely important to make a plan, it's also crucial you act.

Think about everything you want to accomplish. What are some of the larger tasks?  Some of the smaller ones that may be lower hanging fruit - the tasks that may be easier to accomplish in shorter time and with less energy?

By planning ahead and thinking about all the potential hurdles that may get in the way, you have a better, more sure-footed path toward accomplishing your goals.

By acting on a plan, we discover where those pitfalls may be.

2) Get Off Your Butt And Get Doing

Discovering what works and what doesn't is the input you need before the evaluation phase of your plan.

It tells you whether or not your plan is on the right trajectory.

But you need to first do something to enact your plan before you can evaluate the data.

Because after you act on your plan, it's going to look a little, or a lot, different than you first began.

Knowledge is experiential.  That means that we learn by doing, not by thinking, reading and dreaming.  We are kinetic learners on a biological scale, we learn by doing.

It's the meat, the spices and casing of the sausage making process.

Like I wrote before, making sausage is about putting everything together, some things that may or may not appear to work together, but with proper testing and planning, you know are awesome fits.

After you get started, there's bound to be some bumps and bruises.  It's part of the learning process that is called trial and error. By doing, we're gaining data that allows us to properly set up our next course adjustments, which are the most important part of how you adapt your execution of your plan.

Above all else, adapting and recalibrating is the primary difference in determining your success and failure.

Part Two Of The Executioner's Revenge

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Myth Of Hyper-Productivity

What's Your Hustle

Everywhere you look these days, there's a glorification of busy.  From business leaders, entrepreneurs, athletes, politicians and more, the idea that working 24-7 is one that has run its course.

The problem isn't that being busy is a bad thing.

There are plenty of studies that claim we are better at managing our tasks and our time when it's more finite.

What we need to stop glorifying is the idea that we need to be constantly on the go, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365(+) days a year.

To paraphrase John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball icon, we're confusing the idea of activity for accomplishment.

And that is at the risk of our success, and most importantly, our health.

It's A Lie The Puritans In Salem Tried To Sell Us

Piling on hours of work just to be busy doesn't guarantee we're accomplishing more.  Research shows that we are in fact, achieving a higher volume of lower quality.

No doubt it was once a great survival mechanism for the early settlers in New England, especially the Puritans.

Expelled from England, living in dire situations in the middle of brutal winters and with mortality rates being astronomical, it would make sense that someone would have to work constantly.

You had very little help.

But that was hundreds of years ago.

The Puritans definitely couldn't have imagined centralized air and heating, an iPhone much less the Internet or the current Presidential contests for that matter.

So why do we Americans uniquely obsess over a survival mechanism that is outdated as the New England Witch Trials?

If you don't know what the witch trials were, it was a test that was thought to prove whether a person was a witch/warlock or not.

If accused of witchcraft, a person was tied to a rock and thrown into a body of water.  If the person floats to the surface, they were "proven" to be a witch.  If they drowned, their innocence was proven.

Not much good that did for the innocent.

It's a fact that our attention spans are much shorter than we assume.  The Atlantic published an article that backs up the claim that our attention spans are finite and much less durable than previously believed.

The idea that you can work 12, 14, 16 hours a day and not have a point of diminishing returns is factually false.

In fact, working less, with much longer breaks in duration is a concept that is rightfully gaining a lot of steam.

Interval training for athletes with long breaks between performance is an area that has proven to be a strategy for peak performance and one that should - and hopefully may - be moved into the working world.

Again, the idea of those monster "all-nighters" to reach a point of maximal productivity is simply wrong.

It's actually a race to diminished returns.

Which is a great strategy for the makers of trolls. You know those little plastic toys with the whips hair that you could place on the tips of your pencils.

While it may be a great tactic if you need to build millions of little pencils with trolls on their erasure tips, it's not much help if you're trying to get something of value accomplished.

Again, thinking that being active is ideal for a lifestyle and goal achievement, being busy and always active is proven as to be not so great a tactic.

No, the key to being successful and happy is to focus on one task and to see it to completion.  Or concentrate on learning just one skill and see it to mastery.

Then and only then, is it best to move to a new task or skill.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How To Make Your Success EPIC

There's One Simple Thing You're Not Doing That's Limiting You From Achieving Your Goals

Become By Doing

Every musician knows that you don't get better at playing an instrument by just reading music.

Similarly, every basketball player knows that you can't improve your shooting in a game any better without getting off the bench.

Accomplishing a goal is no different.

The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to try to accomplish.

That's the dreamer part.

It's easy.

Everyone has dreams, ideas and "goals."

The hard part is setting in motion the things you need to do for the proper sequence to happen that will make you successful at your goal.

Especially if you don't know what to do in the first place.

Let's say you want to learn how to cook.  I mean really cook, like the chefs you see on TV.

When you think about what it takes to get there, what's the first thing you think you need?

An education?

That may help but doesn't guarantee that Rhubarb (gross and tart) and Strawberries (sweet and yum!) go together.

But they do.

Only by tasting the pairing of Rhubarb and Strawberries can you find out they actually complement each other.

You can study all you want, but without tasting the flavors together, you may try to add some citrus, or pepper, or something that may not work.

But how would you know if you didn't taste it?

Doing is how we learn.

You Want To Get Something Done?  Get Off Your Ass

As an athlete, nobody ever says, "Boy I hope I get some serious bench time in the game tonight."

The point of playing the game is to earn a chance to play.  It doesn't matter how often you've watched a drill or skill at practice until you've tried to master the task, you have no idea how to replicate it.

That's why many coaching and teaching methods emphasize a process of modeling.

First you explain an aspect of the overall task and challenge.

Next you demonstrate the skill.

Then you have the players/students work together on acquiring the technical components of the skill.

Finally, you examine the attempts, refine as necessary and re-demonstrate the skill before trying to work on it again.

The objective is to learn mastery of the skill before the competition and the only way you learn the steps necessary for mastery is by doing.

Acquiring better habits, learning new skills to accomplish your goals are all the same aspects of skill mastery.

It takes one direct action to learn a skill and build a better habit.  Repetition of those newly acquired tasks are the necessary building blocks of mastery.

If you want to master a new task, build better habits, or improve on something you already know, the only proven path is through action.

So get off the bench, get on your feet and get going.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How I Used One Simple Inversion To Write This Awesome Blog Post

The One Simple Thing You Must Know To Write More Awesome Blog Posts

My March Into Spring Challenge 

In honor of the month of March, I'll be writing 31 posts in 31 days.

Truthfully I should have released this statement yesterday, but I posted How To Get S#!T Done - My Kindle Publishing Experience instead.

Why did I do it this way?

In this post you're going to learn how making ourselves accountable to others sometimes makes us less likely to accomplish our goals; the importance of showing people how you do your craft; and how to move forward without a plan.

The Truth About False Starts 

I wanted to explain the purpose of why I was taking on the challenge of writing so many posts in so many days.

Especially when I'm unsure where I'm going with this challenge.  My editorial calendar is sparse, I've got minimal ideas and even less time.

So the inversion I'm using is writing about how the sausage is made, my process and the thought behind them before telling anyone why - more on that below.

Think of it as a bit of a false start like this poor guy:

Not only did he get a false start charged against him, by the looks of his dive, he also had a great belly-flop as well.

Basically I've done enough belly flops in my lifetime.

They hurt.

The point of inverting the publication of these two articles is that; 1) the article I posted was more in line with what I felt was needed to be said and had a little more value than a post about MY ambitions such as this one, and 2) I wasn't 100% sure I was going to announce my intentions.

Why did I hesitate?

The Truth About Goal Setting And Accountability

When you think about setting a goal, there are a number of popular beliefs on how to best accomplish them.

One way is to write it down and document your actions every day that you fulfill the steps necessary toward your goal.  It's been called the Jerry Seinfeld method, writing a joke a day, marking a calendar with an "x" that over time creates a visual chain - one that you don't want to break.

Other ways include a "vision board" - placing images, ideas and quotes that are motivational in nature and that you can focus your mental/imagination on.

Some believe in making our goals accountable with others by telling them all about it before hand.

The idea is that by sharing your goals with someone else, a friend or family member that you trust, you're making yourself accountable to not letting that person down.

There are plenty of studies that show that by announcing your goals aloud and to an audience, the odds of you accomplishing them decrease significantly.

Don't believe me?

How about this post: Shut Up! Announcing Your Plans Makes You Less Motivated To Accomplish Them

It's a review of studies that date back to 1933 that disproves the modern idea that when we announce our plans, we're much more likely to accomplish them.

The truth is the opposite actually.

Another reason is that I wanted to explain what I was doing with evidence that you could see.

As I wrote yesterday, people like to see a finished product.  They also really like to see how the sausage is made.

Think about your favorite song, your favorite band.

You've listened to the lyrics thousands of times; memorized every time change and melody possible, and still have no idea what the song is really about.

So you look to interviews, videos, YouTube, Facebook groups, anything to try and understand what's the song about.

Until the band speaks and shatters the illusion.

What you thought was a heartbreaking ballad of lost love and the power to overcome that broken person you were, is revealed to be about a drunken day with a dog and a squirrel chasing each other on the 4th of July.

(This never happened to my knowledge, yet...)

In one singular moment, a songwriter can tell you with absolute certainty that your interpretation is correct, or wrong.

And that experience is exhilarating or crushing in its revelation.

But only if you get to see how the sausage is made that you can truly understand the intention the artist had.

Make Your Sausage In Front Of Others - Otherwise Who Knows What's In It

So that brings us to why I hesitated to state my goal of 31 posts in 31 days.

Look, I'm not a prolific guy.

It takes me awhile to percolate an idea, let it marinate and finally set out to explain it.  That's why I showed the screen shot of a post I've been struggling with for over a week.

And once I write that idea, develop the concept and characters (in fiction, a tone in blogging), I'm spent.

Like don't ever want to write again - spent.

Until I pick an idea, see it develop and want to share it.

So the main reason I inverted the publication of my announcement for posting 31 articles for 31 days and yesterday's about "sausage making", was that I wanted to explain how and why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Especially since I'm beginning this challenge of writing 31 posts with only 4 ideas and topics so far.

It may seem (and you'd be right) contradictory that by claiming to write 31 articles in 31 days is the goal, which as we've discussed will minimize the probability of it happening, by showing you my process of how, why and when I go about generating my content, I secure a reasonable chance of success.

Continuing with the arcing themes of this blog so far, we'll be discussing Creativity, Self-Improvement, Goal Setting, and Maximizing Productivity in upcoming posts.

But it's a wide open editorial calendar and I've only got 4 ideas.

And this was one of them.

Man am I tired.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How To Process The Stupid Out Of Your Project

How To Overcome Any Obstacle In Your Way

There are many reasons to get serious about anything you care about, your passion projects, from creative writing, to painting, business and entrepreneurship.

But first ask yourself, what is it about theses things that you actually enjoy?

We often get in our own way.

We focus on the outcomes, forgetting about the steps necessary for our own success.

Do you get lost in the moment?

Is it something you can do in your own time, if left to your own devices?

Musicians are a great example of this.

They can practice for hours on songs and scales, perform for a couple hours in front of an audience that ranges from zero to huge, and afterward, sit down and play some more for the sheer joy of music.

How do you think about your passion?

Is it something that like David Foster Wallace wrote in his metaphor about two fish swimming by each other, one fish asks, "How's the water" and the other fish replies "what's water?"

In other words, is it something that you can just do, or do you have a self-limiting belief holding you back?

If you struggle with starting and maintaining your passion projects, you may be putting too much emphasis on the outcome rather than the necessary steps to get there.

Writing is not simple, and every writer - which due to schooling, the Internet and email, we are all writers - has to find a way to overcome the obstacles of momentum, motivation and inertia.

Think Of The Process Like Sailing

You pull out of your slip, cruise through the harbor and set out on the water.

If you constantly stare at the port, it's going to seem like you're never getting anywhere.

The gradual distance between you and the dock seem like it's taking forever to create any real distance.

But, if you look forward, focus on all the little things like wind, setting the jib and steering; enjoy the scenery in front and next to you, once you look back, you'll be amazed how far you've travelled.

Or imagine a cross-country flight.

You walk down the tunnel, board, stow you carry-on luggage, sit down and buckle in.  Luckily you have a window seat and can look out while you're on your way.

Do you spend the entire flight staring at the clouds and watching the square lots on the ground, wondering if there are people down there?  If so, where are they going? What are they doing? Are they looking at you as you fly at cruising altitude, bouncing around in your seat from a little light turbulence?

It'll seem like the flight lasts a life time if you try to count each lot as you fly overhead.

But if you strap down, watch a movie, read a book, or take a nap and only look out the window after you get up to use the bathroom when you need to, the flight will seem like it's passing in no-time at all.

It's All About The Process Not The Product

3 Authors That Will Help You Overcome Your Adversity To Writing

1) In his book on writing, The Lie That Tells a Truth, John Dufresne opines that when we focus on the end product, it's difficult to see it through. He encourages us in his preface that;
"Remember when you were a child, and you were stuck in the house on a rainy day, and Mom sat you at the kitchen table, gave you a pencil, a sharpener, a box of crayons, and a ream of paper, and you went at it? You drew all day long and never got blocked..."
The idea here is that as kids, we never thought about the outcome of our passion.  We used it to lose ourselves in the moment.  To act as a pastime when we could.  It was about the enjoyment of the process not the end result.

2) Similarly Austin Kleon writes in his books, Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work, that it's the process that people don't see when they think about creative work.

People enjoy the finished product, but as creatives we should focus on enjoying the process.

He suggests getting out in the world, carrying a notebook and making notes of the sights, sounds, smells, that you experience. You can use them at a later date.

I wrote a post about this process of stealing and borrowing for ideas on a blog post that you can read here: My Kindle Publishing Lesson: Beg, Borrow and Steal Your Way To Becoming A Better Writer.

The point is, you can borrow from people around you and utilize it to make your projects better.

3) Finally author Johnny B. Truant of The Smarter Artist Podcast (as well as the Self-Publishing Podcast and Write, Publish, Repeat) claims in his episode titled "Talking About Writing Is Not Writing" - he mentions the work that a carpenter does.

A carpenter doesn't spend their time talking about carpentry, they're actively working on the craft.

So find a way with your passion project to get deep into the trenches of doing the actual work.

The band Pearl Jam says that when they started, they're rehearsal space was in the basement of a warehouse that other creatives used during the day.

They'd walk past the artists, climbing down the stairs smelling the paint and tincture, and feel inspired to match what was going on around them.

In all of these examples, there is the reinforcement to focus on the process, the daily act of sitting down and writing.

No one is saying that following your passion project is going to be easy.  Or simple, or fun all the time.

There's no guarantee you won't fall on your face, lose your shirt, or fail.

Get Lost To Find Yourself

Set a goal.

Perhaps it's finding a new client.

Or writing 500 words a day.

Perhaps it's running 3 miles at the end of a long work day.

Set a goal that you can realistic do everyday.  Don't worry about the outcome of those goals.

For this exercise focus on small, micro-accomplishments that you can do and maintain daily.

The point is, create the process of doing little things that moves you , step by step, toward your goals.

The act of getting down in the trenches, of digging into the words and what you're trying to say, is one you need to be willing to do.

Teach yourself how to be preoccupied with the act of doing, how to get lost in the moment, knowing that you'll get there some day and some how.

Just don't worry about the outcome. How it'll be received, or whether it'll be any "good."

That's a burden that's too great to carry.

And one that, often, you don't have any control over.

So focus on the necessary steps, and diligently get lost in the process (an oxymoron for sure!).