A Purposeful WIP Dares to Do Different

Have you ever wanted to experience growth in a certain area of your life, even making repeated attempts at progress, only to find yourself reverting to the same place you were when you started? You’re not alone. It is habitual for many of us to do the exact same thing with the expectation of achieving a different result. I, myself, have been guilty of this numerous times. According to Einstein, this is in fact the very definition of insanity. And in my experience, it’s also a good way to get stuck in a rut.

By continuously walking the same path, doing the same things over and over again, we eventually dig ourselves into deep trenches. (Picture the caged wolves at the zoo, pacing the perimeter of their enclosures until they’ve worn a rut into the ground.) The only way to break the cycle and climb out of those grooves of robotic repetition is to do something different.

This might not sound daring, but if you’ve ever tried to climb out of your comfort zone, you know how difficult and terrifying it can be to do something different. It is so much easier to stay within the confines of our established routines. It’s safe, it’s comfortable, it’s familiar, and we know exactly what to expect. Unfortunately, staying in this place also means sacrificing any chance of progress.

In the case of my novel, I think I always knew on some level that my sporadic approach to writing was never going to lead to a finished product. But my behavior wasn’t because of laziness or even a lack of drive. It was the fear of leaving the safety of my own comfort zone. As long as I was perpetually working on that first draft, there would never be a cohesive story for someone to read. There would never be a completed manuscript for someone to judge or reject. So by staying in that safe space, I was protecting myself from having to face any of that.

But at some point, I needed to move. I needed to make progress. And in order to do that, I knew I needed to do something different. Some of those differences included things that I’ve already mentioned in other posts. Things like Acknowledging Accountability and Building Balanced Boundaries and Creating Consistency. Those were seemingly small changes, but they created huge ripples in my efforts to make progress.

So what about you? In what area of your life have you been wanting to see growth and what is something you can do to make that progress happen? Think about it this week and make the decision to become a Purposeful WIP who Dares to Do Different.

Why I Keep Writing When it Seems No One is Reading

Photo by George Coletrain on Unsplash

To my fellow writers and other online entrepreneurs: Do you ever question the purpose of your social media presence? Whether your platform is already well-established or you’re a newbie who’s just getting started, do you sometimes feel that claiming your own piece of digital real estate is both daunting and insignificant?

Me too.

There are days when I wonder, “What’s the point?” Why am I spending so much time and working so hard to add my small, quiet voice to an already loud and overcrowded sphere? Why do I keep writing blogs and Facebook posts and tweets when it seems like no one is reading them? I can lose minutes and even hours stuck on this viciously circling train of thought.

And then I remember. KFC. No, this doesn’t stand for Keep Fighting, Champ or Kick that Fear to the Curb. Although it could. Those are definitely good reminders. This acronym stands for exactly what you likely first assumed: Kentucky Fried Chicken.

That’s where my husband and I were eating a late lunch one afternoon back in September when I brought up the subject of social networking. I was less than a week away from the planned debut of my author Facebook page and I was having my doubts. With only a newly completed manuscript first draft under my belt, I worried about labeling myself as an author. I worried about what I would have to say. I worried about reach and reception and readership.

 “What if nobody engages?” I asked my husband. “What if everything I write falls flat and never makes a bit of difference?”

“What if it does?” he countered. “What if something you post has a huge impact on just one person, but you never find out about it, would you still do it?”

My answer that day was an immediate yes. My answer today and on the many days of uncertainty since then is still yes. The possibility of touching that one person is what keeps me writing and posting and showing up even when the response is akin to an echo of cricket chirps in an empty auditorium. And even if I have to write a lifetime of words in order to reach that single soul, I dare to say it will have been worth it.

What about you? What motivates you to keep moving and making things happen even when your efforts appear to go unnoticed?

A Purposeful WIP Disables Distractions

Stop for just a minute and take a good look around yourself. What do you see? Chances are good your perspective of your surroundings shifts according to your mood, mindset, and motivation. For example, if you happen to be a resolution setter, you may have flipped your calendar on January first and viewed the year ahead with a sense of purpose and possibility. You may have set lofty goals. Maybe you even said to yourself, “This is the year I’m finally going to . . . [insert seemingly elusive dream here.]”

If you’ve made progress on those goal(s) or even reached a satisfactory level of achievement, congratulations! Your view of this 2019 cup is probably still half full. But if you, like many, remain rooted in the same place you were six months ago, you might not have such a rosy outlook. You might, instead, look over your life and see nothing but obstacles and complications. Those things that have continuously held you back and distracted you from reaching your potential.

I understand.

When I first quit my 9-5 job to start writing, I often got caught up in distractions. Things like digital notifications, unexpected occurrences, extensive to-do lists, even other people’s agendas, opinions, and criticisms. But distractions aren’t limited to physical forces. In fact, once I declared my goal to write and publish a novel, I realized that some of the biggest distractions can be internal. These run the gamut from fear and doubt to self-sabotage, jealously, and a relentlessly buzzing monkey mind, all of which can be encompassed in a single word: Resistance.

If you’ve been following the blog from the beginning, you’ve heard me mention Resistance several times before and if you woke up today feeling stuck and unhappy and incapable of moving forward, you’ve likely experienced it for yourself. (On a side note: If you’d like to read more on the topic of Resistance, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is an excellent, eye-opening resource.)

So what can we do to disable these distractions?

The first step is to identify those that most hold us back. What are the repetitive habits or thought patterns that keep us chained to an unchanging, unproductive version of ourselves? And secondly, what can we do to keep these things from taking over our lives?

As an example, I have learned from experience that my cell phone is a huge distraction for me when I’m writing. Even if the ringer is silenced, I will, without fail, pick it up and look at it often if it is anywhere within arms’ reach. The fix: I keep my phone in another room while I’m working. I set a timer that keeps me at my desk for one-hour blocks and another that limits me to three fifteen-minute social media breaks so I don’t lose huge chunks of my day to digital networking.

Another more detrimental distraction for me (especially as a writer) is the relentless chatter that goes on in my mind. I have a tendency to think and rethink and overthink until I work myself into an unfocused tizzy. The fix: Prayer and journaling. Starting each day with a prayer of gratitude helps me stay centered and keep life in perspective. And a stream-of-consciousness journal—where I open a blank Word document and unload the entirety of my thoughts on the page—helps to clear my mind of disruptive junk so I can concentrate on my writing goals.

What about you? What are your biggest distractions? What can you do to disable them?

Let’s Party Like It’s July First

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

It’s July first. Two thousand nineteen is about halfway over.

Historically speaking, it has been my default to partake in a little mid-year freak-out about now. To lament over how quickly the last six months have flown by and how little I have to show for them. To lose a few hours (or maybe even days) dwelling on mistakes, trials that turned out to be errors, and those easily recalled moments that still make me shake my head because I know I could have and should have done better.

Then, just as the my-life-is-going-too-fast/what-am-I-even-doing-here/I-still-can’t-believe-I-did/said-that spiral finally subsides, my equilibrium shifts in the opposite direction. My heartrate skyrockets, my hands shake, my mind goes berserk enumerating all the yearly goals I’ve yet to accomplish and the dwindling number of days left with which to complete them. (The answer is 184, in case you were wondering.)

But I’m not going to do any of that today.

Instead, I’m celebrating. I’m giving myself permission this afternoon to throw on some tunes and take a spin down Memory Lane. I’m looking back at the road I’ve traveled to get here and reliving, re-experiencing, and rejoicing over every single bit of forward motion that I can recall. And I encourage you to do the same.

Grab a pen and paper. Jot down anything that comes to mind. The huge triumphs, the miniscule signs of growth, even the apparent failures that you then turned into opportunities for improvement. Write it all down and then read through your list. Then read it again more slowly. Breathe it in. Remind yourself that you—awesome, capable, amazing YOU—accomplished those things. Whether your list consists of four achievements or forty, they are yours to own. Enjoy them. Revel in them. Celebrate them.

That, my friends, is progress.

(If you like, feel free to post something from your list in the comments so I can celebrate with you.)