"The so-called 'secrets of success' will not work unless you do."
-Anonymous


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"Do what you can do, and God will do what you cannot do."

Have you ever read or heard something that cut you to your core? That sucker punched you when you least expected it? This quote from a well-known speaker and preacher got me. Hard.

For months I’d been griping and complaining about my day job. How it robbed me of my time, my energy and, worst of all, my creative drive. I whined nonstop to anyone who would listen (or pretend to listen) how all I really wanted to do was write.

There was one teeny, tiny problem. I wasn’t writing. At all.

This quote—these 13 little words when strung together—brought me face to face with what I’d been trying to avoid for months now. The work. The old fashioned, roll-up-the-sleeves-it’s-time-to-get dirty work that any goal worth achieving requires.

Don't misunderstand me. I strongly believe our thoughts and the law of attraction do play a role in our success. I had vision boards and dream boards decorating my desk at work, adorning my refrigerator. There were Post-It notes with quotes and inspiring messages plastered all over my bathroom mirror, car dashboard and computer monitor. But I also believe visioning is just one part of the equation. To gain anything of real, lasting value, you have to pair that burning, inner desire with a healthy dose of sweat equity.

Wishing could only do so much. I’d already wished my circumstances were different. I’d already wished I were living the writer's life. I’d already wished I had something with my name on it lining bookstore shelves. I’d already wished my way into the byline of all my favorite magazines. I’d already wished I were working from the cozy comfort of my own home. I'd already wished I had the freedom to work my job around my life, not the other way around.

But all that wishing with no writing was like sitting in a car wishing I’d get to my destination without putting gas into the tank. Whenever I had a few minutes to spare, I didn't spend them writing or seeking out story leads. I didn’t spend them researching publishers or crafting query letters. So how on earth could I realistically expect to see my first children's book in bookstores if the story was still in my head? How could I expect to quit my day job to write full-time when I wasn’t even writing part-time? Something had to change, and it wasn't the images on my latest dream board.

I had to make the decision that my writing would be given the same priority I gave my running while I was training for a marathon. Any coach will tell you that visualization is an important aspect to athletic success. The more an athlete visualizes herself running strong, pulling ahead of the pack and crossing the finish line in personal record time, the more likely it is to happen. But the athlete must also train her body. She must make the time and the commitment to run the miles.

As a runner, accomplishing my marathon goals was important to me. But was it more important than my life’s purpose? One evening, I asked my husband about this.

“Why is it that I was able to make the time to train for and complete five marathons—something most people won't do even once in their lifetime—but I can’t seem to get myself to give that same level of dedication and sacrifice to my writing?”

He simply replied, “I guess it all depends on how much you want it.”

Touche.

How much did I want this? How important was my writing to me really? Wasn't it something I wanted not just for recreation and creative escape, but also for my profession, my purpose?

Both the thought of it being that important and not being that important to me made me feel cold, clammy and sick.

Was it fear? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of sacrifice? Fear of what might be?

The only way to find out was to start doing something. Anything. Write a sentence. A paragraph. A page. Just get the pen moving. Make the time. Step out in faith. Do my part, then sit back and let the supernatural do what I cannot.


Your One Step

What project or goal have you been putting off?  The next time you notice a long-time goal just sitting on the shelf collecting dust, take 10 minutes to journal about the following questions:

Is this something I really want?

This can be the scariest question to ask because it involves a great amount of transparency and vulnerability with yourself. Still, be brave and be honest. There's no use in pursuing something—or feeling guilty about not pursuing something--if it doesn't light you up.

Are there too many things demanding my attention making it difficult to accomplish things of real value?

In today's society, we wear our jam-packed agendas like badges of honor. But why? For whom? What obligations are currently on your calendar that, if eliminated, could free up just a couple of hours for you to pursue your dream? List all the obligations that fall under that category, then compare the benefits you receive from each to the value of your goal. Then pick one obligation, take it off your schedule and make room for your dream.

Am I afraid of the outcome? If so, why?

List all your fears associated with accomplishing this goal. Then examine what you wrote and ask yourself if those fears are valid or simply stories your inner gremlins made up about you in order to hold you back from the creatively fabulous life you were meant to live.


It's time to get real with ourselves. It's time to face our fears and reclaim our gorgeous, sparkly creative right. Don't worry. You don't have to claim it all at once. Just take a step, and watch the magic unfold.
 
Do Something. 02/19/2011
 
Day 3:

Today's "one step" was one I'd been putting off for a long time. I mean a LONG time! So today I sat myself down and finally wrote the manuscript to a sweet little picture board book I penned during a lunch break a while back. The rough draft, complete with critique comments from a writers' group I belonged to last year, was still folded and neatly tucked between the pages of my idea notebook.

Seeing it still untouched brought a pang of guilt, like I'd been sucker-punched in the gut. That story had become the proverbial elephant in the room...or in this case, in my notebook. I'd put it off and put it off again, each time with a new excuse. "I ran out of time." "I'm not sure it's ready." "I don't know how to format a manuscript." "I'm not sure what to do with the manuscript after I write it." I had one excuse for every fleeting moment of motivation.

While sorting through a box of school day memories, I came across a picture book I'd written and illustrated for a class project. Across the title page my teacher had written, "You should consider writing and publishing children's book someday."

Someday.

There's that word again.

And it hit me that the distance between right now and "someday" is something. That's it--do SOMETHING! Make it a baby step. Make it a leap. Just do something that inches you closer to the goal. You don't have to do it all at once. Today, I didn't sit down with the mindset that I was going to write, finesse and send in my manuscript. No, I broke it down into smaller, less intimidating steps. Today I wrote the manuscript. Another day (probably tomorrow), I'll tweak it and edit it and whip it into shape. And on another day, I'll research potential publishers. And on yet another day after that, I'll finally place it in an envelope and send it on its way with a wish and prayer.

But until then, I'm content knowing I've done my something for my someday.



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Your One Step...

What's your someday? What do you envision yourself doing? Accomplishing?

Sometimes the beauty of the end goal can leave us feeling overwhelmed, paralyzed by possibility.

Here's where you take a deep breath, get out your trusty journal and ask yourself these three questions:

1) WHY do you want to achieve this goal? What benefits will you receive?

2) Now close your eyes and VISUALIZE the way the end result makes you feel. Do you feel energized? Fulfilled? Content? Peaceful? Relaxed? While the idea of the process of getting to the desired destination can result in a few holy-crap-what-am-I-doing moments, picturing yourself in the destination should cultivate nothing but positive feelings and thoughts. As my high school cross-country coach would tell the team before a big race, "The body believes what the mind perceives." Routinely picture yourself working on your art, writing a book or traveling to Italy and the body will eventually have no other choice but to follow the mind.

3) If your goal becomes the "elephant in the room," remember the proverb about how to go about eating an elephant. One. Bite. At. A. Time. Break down your goal into manageable, bite-size piecesby BRAINSTORMING and jotting down everything you can think of that will propel you forward. Then pick one of the items on your list and commit to it for that week.

"There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still."
—Franklin D. Roosevelt

Live Creatively!
Sara