JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Write a 5-Minute Journal

When Tim Ferriss mentions his daily writing routine in Tools of Titans, I was intrigued. He calls the routine the 5-Minute Journal.

The 5-Minute Journal is a series of writing prompts that Ferris uses every day – morning and evening- to recall daily highlights and to improve himself for the next day.

These are the 5-Minute Journal Prompts:

Morning Questions

  1. I am grateful for…
  2. What would make today great?
  3. Daily Affirmations

Evening Questions

  1. 3 amazing things that happened today
  2. How could I have made today better?

 

I have incorporated the 5-Minute Journal Prompts into my daily writing routine for ten days. There is already a weekly goals list incorporated into my journal; I was searching for a way to remind myself daily of the tasks that should be completed by Saturday. The 5-Minute Journal Prompts bend to this purpose.

Early on, I would often write in the Evening Questions section that nothing amazing has happened today. It was then that I realized that I associate the word “amazing” with momentous and often unexpected occasions. I substituted it with the word “awesome,” which I associate with any size event or occurrence. That prompted me to change the wording in other places in the prompts to fit my life and the way that I speak.  I would encourage you to do the same.

After a few days, writing the same questions over and over became tedious, so I typed the questions, leaving a space for writing underneath each one. I then printed out a bunch of the pages to glue one every day to my journal. Then I start writing. That has been so much better than handwriting the questions every day.

Of course, if you’re already digital journaling, this series of  prompts can more easily fit into your daily writing without so many steps, and without the tedium of writing the same words every day. Just copy and paste.

What do you think of the 5-Minute Journal?

Peace,

Deborah

JOURNALING · Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

What has prevented you from reaching your goals? Is part of it fear? Fear of what? Writing it all down in private, in a journal  (paper or digital) helps to process what’s going on internally. From there, you have a better stance from which to address the issue.

A journal can also help you to understand your patterns of fear as well as the things you continue to say that you want, the goals you continue to claim will be completed. Following the patterns of behavior recorded in your journal can help you  understand what you fear, at what points you tend to fail and why.

Reading my old journals where I would write that I plan to do X, Y or Z, and then seeing how little of that I had accomplished was devastating. I determined to discover where I continue to fail. A lot of it was allowing fear to make my decisions, or just not making a decision at all (which is a decision by omission).

Use your journal to help you understand what you would do if you were not afraid.

Peace,

Deborah

 

Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Stop Imitating Your Heroes and Just Get Started Already

In a Facebook group, a business owner asked how to become “unstuck” in the planning stage. There are projects waiting to be finished, but she’s busy reading more content from other business owners who inspire her. How can she become “unstuck” and not just copy someone else?

I struggle through the same issues. However, I have found ways to think about them which have helped me to “unstick” myself and get something done.

REMEMBER THAT IMITATION IS A COMMON STARTING LINE

It is common to EMULATE YOUR HEROES when you start out. Children play dress up in their mother’s shoes, for instance.

Eventually, if you are self-aware, you develop what fits you, you create a custom-tailored business or life. I find that you start creating content that is unique to you when you distance yourself a bit from someone else’s content.

Whatever you ruminate on the most tends to be the most easily-accessible content that your mind can produce. Thus, to create content that is unique to your perspective, it is crucial to stop and consider what YOU think about a subject, what experiences YOU have had. Then, if you wish, go check out what someone else has to say on the subject.

Your heroes are a good jumping off point, but be sure to jump off, otherwise you become a copy.

To answer this question on Facebook, for instance, and to make sure I wasn’t copying what I had read in the comment section, I just dived in, writing from the perspective of  my own experience with the topic; I did not read the preceding replies first. After posting my comment, I then proceeded to read a few others. I’m glad that I did it that way; some of the other answers were so brilliant, I would have been intimidated had I read theirs first. When intimidated, I hesitate sharing my thoughts, thinking that I cannot help anyone. Many people tend to have this issue.

TO REDUCE PROCRASTINATION, CREATE A 1:1 RATIO OF PRODUCTION TO CONSUMPTION

To get started on a few projects, the following is something that I’ve done recently. For every hour that I consume business content, I must use an hour to produce something for my own business. For every hour I spend consuming Youtube videos or reading a book, I must spend an hour writing in my journal or typing an article. When I follow this rule, I usually end up creating more than that minimum 1:1 ratio.

In this way, I’m tipping the scales in favor of being a PRODUCER more than being a CONSUMER. You might choose to do it in a different way, but developing the habit of becoming a producer is what you’re after to become “unstuck.”

I fail at this all the time, mostly due to a lack of confidence in my own production. But the best way to barrel through the lack of confidence is to revisit your WHY -your reason for starting the project in the first place- then continue to produce. Wade through what you consider dreck until it’s not dreck any more.

[If you’re worried about what other people think about you or your content, read this article, based on a Cornell study, about how to handle social disapproval. I needed to be reminded of this information just yesterday.]

Peace,

Deborah

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

How to Handle Social Disapproval [Cornell Study]

According to a Cornell study, social approval (or lack of it) does not affect people who have a sense of purpose. Or, rather, it does not affect them as much as it does those whose self-esteem hangs on being liked.

Anthony Burrow, a co-author of the study, defines a sense of purpose as

“ongoing motivation that is self-directed, oriented toward the future and beneficial to others.”

How do you develop a stronger sense of purpose to create a sustainable and healthier mindset?

Let’s look at the first area of purpose in Burrow’s definition.

Sense of Purpose Factor #1 – Ongoing motivation that is self-directed.

Check these areas of your plans to make sure you have a strong enough sense of purpose:

  1. Define (or re-define) why you do what you do –  Is your purpose well-defined? Do you know when you’ve reached your goals? Are they measurable by something other than social media likes?
  2. Focus -Is your business purpose always at the forefront of your workspace? Zig Ziglar, the famed motivational speaker, motivated himself for weight loss by having the picture of a person at his ideal size somewhere where he could see it often.
  3. Set Your Goals – Make sure there are big pictures goals as well as daily goals. If daily goals are nebulous, you run the risk of being distracted by blog stats and such.
  4. Plan regular meetings with mentors and accountability partners – Everyone is ignorant, just in different subjects. Your mentor can see what you might not see about how you run your life or business. Your accountability partner helps you run the extra mile.
  5. Understand how you function.  e.g. What’s your personality type? In what sort of environment do you do your best work?
  6. Regular self-examination and paying attention to the results of your goals.

Let’s take a look at the second and third areas in Burrow’s definition of a sense of purpose – oriented towards the future and beneficial to others

Sense of Purpose Factor#2 – Ongoing motivation that is oriented toward the future.

To develop a sense of purpose and not give way to the fickleness of social likes,  the second thing we must have is an ongoing motivation with a future orientation, according to Burrow.

The past is great -it can teach us many things, it can help us not to reinvent the wheel.  As C.S. Lewis says,

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

In other words, strike a balance between now and then.

We must also appreciate and anticipate the future, moving ever forward if we are to have a sense of purpose and not be swayed by social likes (or a lack of them).

How do we gain and maintain this future orientation in our motives?

Neil Patel has written The 7 Secrets of Self-Motivated Entrepreneurs. His article can be useful even if you are not a businessperson, no matter what your goals might be. The biggest takeaway I see in his article is this – to keep looking forward, make your goal a part of your daily routine in someway (emphasis on daily). Put it in your face, in the mirror, in your pocket, on your desk. Wherever you need to encounter your goal, put it there and interact with it or chip away at it every single day.

 

Sense of Purpose Factor #3 – Ongoing motivation that is beneficial to others.

We have discussed before how the sweet spot of success lies where your interests overlap with the needs of others. This seems to be Burrows’ conclusion as well. Ongoing motivation that helps you to weather social disapproval is not only self-directed and future oriented, it is also beneficial to other people.

It has been my experience that when I’m concerned so heavily about what people think of me, I might achieve something, but I am miserable the whole time. When you seek to help others with their problems, you’re not concentrating so heavily on your own issues. In a way, you have derailed your mind from the “woe is me” track that it was on.

This is not to say that your challenges are not important. They are. However, a totally self-involved set of goals will not help you create that sense of purpose  which helps you to weather the storm of social dislikes. There must be some outer direction in your plans.

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. How do you handle social dislikes? Let me know.

Goal Setting · Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles

Ziglar Quotes for Motivation

Hilary “Zig” Ziglar (1926-2012) was an author and motivational speaker filled with pithy quotes for overcoming obstacles and continuing with your goals. Here are a few that I hope will be helpful to you.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Zig Ziglar Quotes

“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”

“You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations before they arise.”

“You are a success when you have made friends with your past, are focused on the present, and are optimistic about your future.”

“[Move] from survival to stability, from stability to success, from success to significance.”

“Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do. It is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you.”

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

“Don’t count the things you do, do the things that count.”

“Opportunity does not lie in the job; it lies in the individual who looks at the possibilities instead of the problems.”

Bonus:

In the video below, Ziglar quotes another person -Joe Sabah- who says, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Motivation

Your Many Ideas Have a Golden Thread

Hi,

It’s Deborah.

I’ve talked about my previous businesses before [See Content Revamp Article]. But I did not tell you this.

One of my previous business ideas, one that predates this website- was that of online used bookseller. There are 5 elements to such an enterprise – Sourcing, Sorting, Storing, Selling and Shipping. The first one -sourcing- didn’t work for me since I lived too far away from the books I wanted to sell, shrinking the profit margin. It was just all down hill from there.

After 6 months, I realized it was not the business for me. In a rare moment of accepting sunk cost, I stepped away from it.

However, part of what drew me into the business was being a matchmaker between readers and the information they might find useful.  It was honestly a thrill knowing that a person made the decision to get something they wanted and I made it available.

After closing down my shop – It was called Clay Books, for a reason lost with time.- I realized that my blogs do all of this matchmaking without my having to check for silver fish, dust mites or mold.

I bumped up the time that I spent on my blogs. My early blogs eventually zig-zagged into the website you are reading today.

Why an I telling you this? Because I learned something.

I learned that the thing you were drawn to, but ultimately turns out not to be for you, has something to it that you thought would be useful. What was that something? These could be clues to what you want and who you want to be.

An experience does not need to be a waste of time, it does not have to be completely sunk cost if you can glean a lesson out of it, if it can help you put together the puzzle pieces of your business (or your life in general).

Now,

call me bookseller,

call me blogger,

call me online consultant,

but ultimately, they all mean that I am a matchmaker between reader and content.

It has taken years to really understand that and then not stray from that. It will take many more years to cultivate this into a business. But, that’s my golden thread. What’s yours?

Peace be with you,

Deborah

BLOGGING · Motivation · Productivity

David Bowie on an Artist’s Popularity

There is an illustrated interview series on Youtube called Blank on Blank. One of the interviews I’ve recently run across is of rock star David Bowie on the subject of popularity and your own artistry.  What he says might apply to writers/bloggers, as well.

“An audience appreciation is only going to be periodic at the best of times. You fall in and out of favor continually. I don’t think it should be something one should be looking for. I think you should turn around at the end of the day and say, ‘I really like that piece of work,’ or ‘That piece of work [is terrible].’ Not, ‘Was that popular or wasn’t that popular?'”

This goes back to what we’ve said before about social media likes and what to do if you experience anxiety over becoming less popular in your art, or when someone unsubscribes from your blog.

The idea is to have a sense of purpose beyond being liked, and that’s what Bowie seems to say here. Making the best work you can should be enough; the rest is gravy.

Peace,

Deborah

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

What is Your Primary Gift to the World?

Author of The Introvert Entrepreneur, Beth Buelow, asked on Facebook the other day, What is your primary gift to the world?

Of course, you do not need to be an introvert nor a businessperson to answer this question.

The primary gift that yours truly brings into the world seems to be that of Chief Appreciator or Curator. I’m no expert on anything; I rarely have one identity in any situation. (Hello. I’m a scanner/hummingbird/multi-potentialite.)

But if I stumble across something fascinating or useful, I’ll point to it. Basically, my life at its most fitting is show-and-tell, it’s appreciating stuff created by someone else. How to develop this into a business is quite a process. I’m glad that you’re along for the journey.

What about you? How would you answer this question?

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

Motivation · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT · Productivity

Not a Morning Person? This might help.

When you are told during childhood that you are a night owl, not a morning person – that you are more energized at night then during the day- for the longest time you stick to that identity like a gnat on an overripe peach. It also means that you have difficulty waking up for school without being grumpy.

Doomed. I thought I was doomed to dislike mornings forever. Then, as a teen, I stumbled upon a solution. I set the alarm to sound -not the default buzz- but one of my favorite albums- The Best of Tchaikovsky. When you hear the cannons of the “1812 Overture,” you do not remain asleep. It was fun.

Later in life,  I found the same problem occurred, only this time I did not want to go to work. I would go anyway, of course, and do an excellent job. However,  I realized the issue all this time had not been mornings, but with forcing myself to live a life that I did not want. With this newer situation, as in my teens, mornings became easier when I would do this one thing – front load my favorite things to do.

I know we are supposed to reward ourselves only after a job well done, if at all. I know we are supposed to reserve dessert for last. (That’s what we are told.)

Well, to get myself up and excited to be alive, I would eat mental dessert first. I would wake up and conduct my morning rituals, work on only the things that were important to me. This might mean getting up super early, but when you are getting up to work on your own projects, life is great; it’s not such a problem.

You are awakening to do things that you like. Then, through the course of a day,  you make your way to the job. Then, you go home and, again participate in what you like. The job you may or may not like is sandwiched between a life that fits you.

Then, you gradually make plans to reduce that middle part – the part that doesn’t fit your life.

Today, the title of night owl does not seem to fit any more, nor do I wish to replace it with another label. It is more accurate to say this: I do as I please when awake.  I am far less interested in the circadian rhythm label.

How about you? How have you weathered the mornings if you do not like them?

Peace Be With you,

Deborah

 

Motivation · Writing

What Kind of Writer are You? (and other questions from SARK)

Author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (AKA SARK) is someone whose books about writing and personal development are new to me. I’m currently reading her book, Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It.

The book is meant to be inspiration for the writer. In it there are interviews of writers with a series of questions. I will answer these questions so that you’ll get a better sense of who runs this website. Also, let me know how you would answer these questions.

What kind of writer are you? What do you love writing?

Non-fiction is the genre. Personal development, online changes, introversion, Scannerism, journaling are all the topic of choice for internet writing.

Journaling is where the seeds for this website’s articles are planted.

I delve into poetry occasionally, but not on this website.

Before writing or creating, what are some of your favorite rituals?

This writer is the type who will use a pre-writing ritual as a means to procrastinate and not actually write anything; it’s best that I not have any more decision points before writing. I just dive right in.

When an idea occurs, I jot it down immediately and, if I have time, expand on it; that’s usually in my journal. Later, I mine the idea to discover how it could be useful for the reader.

I love writing because:

I write in different ways.

Writing for myself – which is how I use journaling – has become something more than just what I love, it has become more of a necessity every year. Journal writing is a means to express all your thoughts, if you wish (“express” in the essential meaning of that term- to press out). It is rare these days not to jot down something in the journal on a daily basis, in the same way that it would be rare not to sweat in the summer heat. It must come out.

Writing for community is how I started writing online. I started a random blog in 2006, which I niched down into a classic movie blog and joined a classic movie association. I love connecting with like-minded individuals.

I also like to inspire people where I can, and remind them how their voice is necessary.

Writing for business purposes is a different beast. Or is it?

Worrying about SEO, making attractive images, wondering whether you should also start a concurrent Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat/Facebook account, whether you should blog on Medium.com or keep that info for your own blog -and that’s just putting out content so that people know that you exist- can be a pain. You haven’t even begun to talk about the goods or services that you offer.

As a certain businessman (whose name rhymes with Vary Gaynerchuk) has said,  these days your business should be a media company that is an expert in X. Meaning, if you sell garlic sausages, you should also be seen as the expert in adjacent things as well – how to cook the sausages, the best food pairings with sausage, etc.

It’s enough to tear out your hair!

Or at least I thought it was until recently when I realized that my original way to communicate online – writing for community- is my thing, is where I’m comfortable. Now I am learning to enjoy writing for business.

Do you ever dislike or feel frustrated by your writing? If so, what kinds of things help you?

Journal writing is only frustrating when I’m not in the position to do it – e.g. when someone is talking to you and you would rather write in your journal, but that’s rude. I patiently wait until I can make a respectful exit, then I go write something.

Writing for other people is frustrating when I don’t know if what I’m doing is useful, or whether it comes across as silly, frivolous or sales-y.

To get feedback, then, is crucial. Opening the comments section has helped. Having an account on Twitter -where people seem more likely to respond- has helped. Straight out asking in Facebook groups, “What is useful to you” also helps.

Do your night or day dreams contribute to your work? How?

Most of the time, I do not recall my nocturnal imaginings.

Day dreams are all about side projects. So, no, they do not seem to contribute to my work, except to indulge my Scanner nature.

Who is a writer?

Anyone who writes is a writer.

What words of support and encouragement can you share with other writers?

I love the word “share” these days, as that was the catalyst to revamp this website and business. If I’m sharing what I know rather than pontificating from on high, I am more likely to contribute. I feel better in that space- the space of sharing. (Your mileage may vary.)

/digression

Fellow writers,

It has usually been my experience that understanding why you write is bedrock for the best writing you will do. The “why” then guides you to timing, platform, content, whether or not to write for others or for yourself, etc.

Then you tweak and fiddle with all of these elements for years until you find something that works for you and your audience. If writing is not fun, then perhaps a different mode of communication is better for you – audio, video, or through one of the other senses. Try it.

What are your answers to SARK’s questions?

All the best,

Deborah

Goal Setting · Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Why You Procrastinate (& What to Do About It)

You have a goal to reach but you often procrastinate. Why?

Let’s look at the three aspects of achievement,  go through the process of elimination and determine where the problem of procrastination might exis so that you can get started again.

There are three aspects to reaching a goal:

1) Where you are

2) Where you want to be

3) The method to get there

Anything within these three spheres can be trip you up, prevent you from reaching the goal , encourage you to procrastinate.

Think of your goal as the far side of a lake. You are standing on this side of the lake. The lake itself is part of the journey to your goal.

Some people seem to jet ski right over to their destination quite easily. But you have barely dipped your toe into the lake, you have procrastinated.

So let’s look at where your biggest issue might be in the process of achievement.

WHERE YOU WANT TO BE/ YOUR GOAL/ THE FAR SIDE OF THE LAKE

One aspect of goal-setting and ridding yourself of procrastination is making sure that the goal is something you want. That might sound too simple, but -honestly- we’ve all been trained to believe that we should want this, we should pursue that. But do we really want those things?

Have you checked in with yourself to determine whether the goal is yours and not simply something others have told you that you should want? At times, we procrastinate because we do not want to achieve that goal and are in denial.

At other times, the problem is that what we wanted before isn’t exactly what we want now, but we haven’t noticed the change in desire.

Circumstances change. You change. The goal changes. Your attention, what’s valuable to you, changes. You should adjust as the variables shift.

Example – Let’s say you’re a bachelor who wants to climb the corporate ladder, so you work late on weekends and it’s no big deal. Suddenly you are engaged to be married.  Is working on Saturday still interesting to you or would you rather use that time to become better acquainted with your future spouse?

If circumstances have changed, account for what it means and how it affects your perspective of your goals.

Write down not only the goal but the purpose for it. Review the purpose regularly to determine whether it still fits.

WHERE YOU ARE/ THIS SIDE OF THE LAKE

You have determined that the goal you are pursuing is the right one for you. Great! Then, your procrastination might be induced by a second aspect of achievement – your current environment.

Your physical space and surrounding area might be uninspiring. (Alter it to be a place where you want to live. Or perhaps it’s time to move.)

How you arrange your physical space or items can help or hinder you in your goal,  they can induce procrastination.

Example – You have the goal of jogging more often. Arrange your life to make that more likely to happen. You might choose the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD Method for this. You create a CUE  or signal which reminds you to work on your goal. That signal might be to see your jogging shoes next to the bed or next to the door. Then you engage in the desired ROUTINE – jogging. Then you REWARD yourself with something that you enjoy very much – perhaps finally finishing that novel you have not made time to read. Whatever works for you.  Eventually your mind and body anticipate the Reward just by interacting with the Cue. Voila! You have a habit and environment that helps you achieve your goal.

However, environment means not only the physical space.

That which you ingest mentally can be discouraging. ( Be careful of what music, movies, books and concepts you absorb. They could create self-defeating attitudes.)

That which you ingest physically can be energy-draining. (Eat the most health-giving food that you can afford.)

Those with whom you spend time can be knee-jerk negative people in general or those who find nothing beneficial in your goals. (Spend time with others who are more encouraging. You must counter-act the negativity with truth, of course, but also with the will and the team to help you see it through.)

Everything around you or in you is your environment.

You can use the CUE-ROUTINE-REWARD method on each aspect of your environment to help you create the habits you need to conquer procrastination.

THE METHOD TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL/ THE BOAT ON THE LAKE

You’ve decided that the goal you have set is the one you really want to reach. You have found ways to create an environment that will help launch you towards your goal.

But procrastination still has you by the throat.

Now let us consider the third aspect of achievement – the method to reach your goal. The method might trip you up.

Example – If you wish to rid your diet of all sugar, you might decide to toss out all sugar and anything else sweet from your house right now.  In two weeks, you’re still craving sweets and you sneak out to a store late at night to buy a forbidden Snickers bar.

The “no sweets” method doesn’t seem to work for you, at least not at this stage. But you don’t give up.

You try a different method.

You decide that you will keep something sweet in your life, as long as it’s not sugar or chemical sweetener substitutes.  You begin using exclusively Stevia Reboudiana – a naturally sweet plant with fewer calories than sugar. You hire a nutritionist to be your accountability partner.

You must continually tweak the variables that do not work for you with different methods.

Procrastination doesn’t necessarily mean you are a broken human; it simply means that the procrastinative behavior brings you something that you want. Do you want more time with your family, so you go home early, and that’s why you haven’t put in the time to turn in your TPS reports at work? Do you want not to smash your fingers again while hammering a nail and that’s why you’ve procrastinated on nailing those frames to the wall? Do you want to avoid a person at the party and that’s why you haven’t bothered to dress yet when it’s time to leave? Determine what procrastination gives to you and find another method to gain it.

——

Ridding yourself of procrastination and achieving your goal is like crossing a lake. How is the launching pad? Do you really want to get to the other side?  What about your method to travel across the lake? Would you rather take a jet ski?  A dingy? A paddle boat? Would you rather swim and test your mettle? Would you rather stay on this side of the lake –a familiar side- and make the best of it?

Understand that any one of these variables could be your stumbling block. Consider each of the three aspects of achievement, determine where the issues lie to get started again.

Above all, have patience with yourself and do not give up.

Sincerely,

Deborah

Further resources for stopping the habit of procrastination

Goal Setting · Motivation · Overcoming Obstacles

1 Tip to Understand Your Multiple Career Interests

Author Barbara Sher is known for coining the term “Scanner” to refer to people who wish to incorporate more than one interest in their careers or who wish to have multiple careers in a lifetime.

Through her books, including Refuse to Choose, Ms. Sher has helped to shift a paradigm for a number of people. The one which sticks out to me lately is the eating analogy.

When you wish to change careers, says Ms. Sher, you are not necessarily a quitter.

Continue reading “1 Tip to Understand Your Multiple Career Interests”