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

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.”

Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

If you need one more reason NOT to procrastinate, here’s one.

There once was a person -let’s call the person Mr. X- who had a fatal disease. Mr. X spoke of all the things he still wanted to do in life. They were not improbable things – he wasn’t asking to vacation on Saturn. They were fairly common things that can be completed within a month or a year.

Why had he not done them?

  • He was waiting for the right time.
  • Other things came up.
  • He didn’t make them a priority.
  • Other people wanted his time and attention.

So he dithered.  The disease led to hospitalization, where he was even less likely to accomplish his goals. It was difficult for friends and family to watch this state of events.

One More Reason Not to Procrastinate

The story of Mr. X. hasn’t resolved itself yet. I hope he pulls through and can have another chance at those goals. But this story is part of the impetus for this article.

If you need one more reason not to procrastinate on something, here’s one: life doesn’t stop for your plans and your circumstances to become “perfect.”

When we procrastinate, it’s as if we are that kid who’s tagging behind a friend, then bends down to tie her shoelace, expecting her friend TIME to wait for her while she sorts things out.

Nope.

While we dither in the research stage, prolonging a plan, not getting things done, life goes on and we wake up with another month, another year, another decade that is gone. In place of the opportunities, sometimes, are now greater hurdles.

Research is good, but spending too much time in research mode can be a form of procrastination. I know. I do it all the time. When do we know that we are spending too much time in research? I’ll address that below under the heading, “You Might Be Imperfect, But You’re Not Useless.”

A Possible Solution

To combat procrastination, the other month, I told myself to spend as much time producing as consuming.  A 1:1 ratio, as much as possible. In this way, if I spend an hour doing research for business, that doesn’t count as production. If I let that count as producing something,  research is all that I will do; I will accomplish nothing.

So, if I’m consuming business-related content for an hour, then I must spend an hour producing  something – e.g. content for this website, or an hour editing my upcoming book, etc.

This has worked tremendously well for me. It’s part of what has led to this website running consistently for a month.

Questioning the Perfection in Perfectionism

Lots of procrastination occurs when perfectionists smile wistfully, give a sigh, and claim -with a faint air of misplaced pride- that they can’t stand to start without planning everything to the hilt. Great! But did you accomplish anything? That’s what planning is for – to accomplish the task. Did you do it?

What’s with this notion of perfection that perfectionists bandy about like a badge of honor? Who do we think we are? We are delusional if we think we can be perfect.

Listen and listen well: nothing you have ever done or will ever do will be perfect. Why? Because we are flawed creatures. So anything you or I do will be stained by that fact.

Excelling at a thing is good, but that’s not the same thing as perfection. To excel is to go beyond an implied limit. We can do that. Perfection, however, is basically saying we are flawless, sinless, infallible, and a bunch of other stuff that you and I are not.

When you blame your perfectionist nature for lack of action, you might be admitting to delusions of grandeur. It’s not something to proud of; it’s something that holds us back.

You Might Be Imperfect, But You’re Not Useless

Let’s be clear: just because a project or task comes from an imperfect person (That’s everyone. Everyone is imperfect.), this does not mean that what you offer is useless.

What you and I offer may not be perfect, but it can be just the thing that you or someone else needs. We might be further along on some aspect of life than another person; let’s not waste time dithering when we could use our imperfect plans to bring about positive change for ourselves and others.

I understand the drive to know every jot and tittle that can or will happen to avoid the pains of life. Planning is good, but you must press forward.  To help you to know when to stop planning and move forward, here’s a brief article on knowing when to stop researching.

Look, I’ve been there. I AM there. I’m battling procrastination on a couple of tasks now (tasks that I might discuss with you later once the fog has settled). I empathize with you. I just want you to reach your goal before an illness (or worse) robs you of the chance to do what could have been done earlier, as it has done with Mr. X.

I’m saying this as much to myself as I am to you: You must stop the dithering and ACT. Courage!

Sincerely,

Deborah

Goal Setting · Overcoming Obstacles

Just Start Already? How?

You might have a goal. You might make plans. You might hear people tell you “just start already,” but if you have internal hangups,  you still might remain exactly where you are despite your plans.

How do you get over whatever is preventing you from accomplishing a goal?

It depends on the reason you’ve held back in the first place.

Although I have given you a way to think about procrastination (Click here to read it.), it’s still not a cure-all. I cannot give you a blanket statement that is a panacea for what’s troubling you. Your problem may have some universal qualities that I can address, but the combination of factors will be specific to you. Plus, how you overcome them might not be the way that others around you have done it.

Still, I’ll give you a few ideas to consider.

Finding the cause of your procrastination often requires a thorough look at your process.

Where in the funnel from idea to execution do you trip up on this goal? Create an environment – physical and otherwise- which encourages you to reach the goal.

For instance, I once had a deep craving for a particular pizza every time I drove near the pizza place. I would stop almost every day and buy one; this did not help my health goals. Instead, I  began to drive down a different street just to avoid that one temptation. Eventually, perhaps months later, I stopped craving it and could drive down that street again without withdrawal symptoms.

Other elements which helped me to drive away from the temptation were (1) making sure that I wasn’t ravenous when passing by that place. I could be hungry, but not eat-the-couch-ravenous, (2) keeping a well-stocked larder at home. Knowing that I had something at home that I enjoyed eating helped me to drive on and reach my health goals.

Finding the cause of your lack of achievement might require deep introspection.

Perhaps some similar incident in childhood still grips you today and you can’t move any further on that goal/idea because your brain still anticipates the pain. It might be time to dig deep and find out.

That introspection might come from professional counseling, maybe one of your online groups can hash out some ideas with you, perhaps family and friends can brainstorm with you, maybe you could avail yourself of a consulting service, perhaps journal writing is what you need.

It’s been my experience that goal-setting and achievement are won or lost psychologically before you even start.

Perhaps today is the day that you dig out the culprit for what prevents you from achieving your goals. Your hangups have been rough on you, so remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Use whatever methods are available to you; they don’t have to be perfect.

Peace be with you,

Deborah

 

Overcoming Obstacles · Writing

Your Words and Stories Are a Gift to the World (According to SARK)

I’m in the midst of reading SARK’s Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper. It’s one of those books about writing which causes you to pause and digest the meaning. Sometimes for days.

One of the sentences which stands out to me is this one on page 49:

All of our words and stories are gifts, to and from the world.

I paused and thought. Is that true?

Something in me recoiled. Is it true that ALL of our words are gifts? Some words cut like a knife. Some words make you feel as if someone has chopped of your right arm.

But then, searing words can be a gift too, if you search for the benefits of the situation. If nothing else, biting words coming your way suggest that perhaps you should remove yourself from the situation. After words come action, you see. So even biting words have their use- as a warning from those whose company you might not need to keep.

Still, I think I see what the author is saying.When the words are meant to be helpful, the fact that they are a gift to the world is more obvious.

For example, I recently suffered through a strong bout of IMPOSTER SYNDROME. It happened just as I planned to launch something that I have never had the guts to do before. So I asked my group if anyone can share a story of conquering Imposter Syndrome.

A story. I was asking for a story.

Why? Because I was hoping to follow in the footsteps of people just like me. I had hoped to make their story of success my story. There is something powerful in seeing or hearing someone else conquer what seems insurmountable for you.

I thought too of my own article here on this website – Why Your Blog is Necessary. To sum it up, I say in that article that your blog is necessary because the marketplace of ideas is bare without you. Someone might need to hear from you. You never know who can use your story right at that moment. So stick your neck out and say something.

I needed to take my own advice.

I ended up agreeing with SARK after all. Your words and stories can become a gift to the world.  Someone might need to see your shoe prints where they would like to tread. What’s your story?

Peace Be With You,

Deborah

P.S. This goes back to what we’ve discussed earlier – What is your primary gift to the world?  Your gift could be words.

Introverts · Overcoming Obstacles · PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

An Introvert with Roommates (6 Tips)

Yours truly has had roommates, dorm mates, apartment mates, house mates, duplex mates… you name it. It was torture. Hello, I am an introvert.

I’m not blaming my roommates; they were all fine. It’s me. It’s the way I am built – I need more solitude than most people.

I cannot tell you how best to live as an introvert with people in your home, because, frankly, I was terrible at it. But I did learn a few things that made me less miserable in a crowd.

Tip#1 Find the benefits

Write it down, embroider it on a pillow, slap it on your face if that’s what it takes to remember benefits of having people in your house.

You can endure almost anything well if you think it’s for your good. This doesn’t mean you should remain there with those people; it just a tactic to endure with less stress.

Tip#2 Carve out a space for yourself

You can have a special place in your home. (Your room, perhaps. Or an extra long time in the bathroom). A place that’s just your own – your own mini home within a home. This is where you are free to do as you please. Savor that.

Now, let’s say there is no place like this in your home. Can you find such a place outside of your home, like a park, or a stand of trees, or a coffee shop, or a corn field? Can you stay there for as long as you need to, then  eventually go to your room to sleep?

Sometimes writing in a journal -even in a crowd- can be that mental home within a home, a space that is just your own (like a turtle toting its shell).

Tip#3 Stretch your socializing muscles and get out there with your roommates more

Come out to the common area and say  “Hi” to your roommates for a few minutes. Catch up on the day. (I know you don’t like chit chat, but non-introverts often do. It suggests you care.) Then dip back out into your introvert space. If you are having fun, stay longer.

You’re establishing good will and stretching yourself a bit. This is also practice for when you have your own space and there is no longer the roommate to be a social buffer, to answer the door for repair personnel and what not.

Tip#4 Anticipate -in writing- the day that you will have your own space.

I laid out plans that I called THE GREAT ESCAPE. It has three phases – “Out of,” “Through” and “Into.” It’s not enough to want to escape FROM. You can escape and go anywhere, perhaps even to a worse situation. You must also plan and anticipate running TO something that you want. In that way your planning isn’t all negative.

I slowly chipped away at the items listed under each phase. It felt good to accomplish a little bit of independence. This small progress helped to sustain me. When a chance to grab a space to myself cropped up, I leaped at it since I already knew that is was close to what I wanted. Which brings me to the next point.

Tip#5 Sometimes the escape route isn’t the most ideal, but can be a stepping stone

Knowing what you want is great. But don’t dismiss what could be the stepping stone to your next phase just because it’s not THE dream space.

This is why it is crucial to understand your escape plan in detail so you’ll know a portion of it when you see it.

Tip#6 Prepare for fear when you do finally have your own space

Sometimes when you get what you want you start to become  a little afraid. You are, after all, changing your identity from one with roommates to one without. Everything is on you.

We’ve already discussed how to Prepare for Fear, on this website. Basically, you remind yourself that this fear means you are getting closer to your dream. Also, use this fear to remind yourself of other success in your life. You succeeded then, you can handle this new season of  life as well.

Once you have your own space to yourself, it is wonderful. You can still socialize with people during the work hours and social hours, but once you come home… Ah! Sanctuary!

Sincerely,

Deborah, Introvert

P.S. I have just found this article. Check out the Introvert’s Guide to Dealing with Roommates over at Dear, Introvert for more ideas.

P.P.S. You might also try The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World”  by Marti Laney, Psy.D. There isn’t a section specifically for roommates, but try Part 2, Section 6 which is about Socializing and think in terms of housemates. That might help.

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Overcoming Obstacles · Productivity

On Making Progress

The goal here is usually to write three times per week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday – for about a year, then scale back to once per week. I missed Wednesday due to pure fear. I have ideas, lists of things to talk about,  an editorial calendar, but nothing sparked my interest.

A problem with an editorial calendar is that when you make the calendar, you are interested in writing about that topic. When the day comes to write it, you are no longer interested. Does that ever happen to you?

Is the inner Scanner/Hummingbird/Multi-Potentialite sabotaging me again with her waning interest in a project? That’s a frightening thought.

Then worry sets in about reaching the goals, whether my system of organization is the right one, whether the articles are perfect enough. It’s a mess.

Nina Amir’s article on perfectionism spurred me on today. Mrs. Amir says to concentrate on making progress more than on making perfection. The author gives us a four-step program for that.  Head on over to her website to read the article titled “Make Progress, Not Perfection.”

Learning to wade through the mediocre or troubling parts of your project is always tough.  Sometimes you forget that your blog is necessary. To get through this, I find inspiration in the thoughts of other people who understand the struggle – whether a blog (like that of Mrs. Amir), or a book, or a close friend; they spur me on,  despite the problems.

Who or what spurs YOU on?

 

Sincerely,

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”