When your last one wasn’t good

“That last one I did wasn’t very good” is an easy thing to think. We can dwell on it, especially when critics rub our faces in it.

The antidote is to start working on the next one.

It’s not to go back and try to redo.

It’s not to listen to the critics.

The only way to really get away from the past dragging us down is forward motion.

If your last poem or blog or piece of furniture or customer service call or seminar or class wasn’t the best, do another one.

Horse riders have known for a long time that if you’ve fallen off, the best thing you can do is to get back on right away. It’s conventional wisdom, right?

What if doing it again isn’t possible (you’ve fallen off a horse and broken three bones, or you messed up again and got fired)? Are you doomed to sit and wish you could have another shot for the rest of your life? No! Now’s the time to try something different and new!

By the way, if you try something different and new, you can expect your first one to not be good… but then you can cycle back to the top of this blog and repeat the process.

PS- I love to share the photo(shopped image) above because my son is learning to use Photoshop, and I’m encouraging him to keep trying and playing with it! He’s particular and detail oriented. I’m sure someday he’s going to be a heck of an editor.

Pursuing Lifelong Goals

Publish ten books. That’s one of my lifelong goals.

I’m at 23.33%. (I count the recent release of Beatdown in Bangkok as one-third of a book  based on the fact that after we have three Stetson Jeff Adventures on Kindle we’ll make a paperback version, Volume One.)

I’m 42 years old. I was 38 when I published my first book. Will it take until I’m 54 to finish the task? Perhaps; there are plenty of ways my progress could derail, unforeseeable major life stressors like a death in the family. But I’m working on a lot of stuff. Right now, I have a book of poems that’s perhaps 40% complete. And a long literary novel at 115,000 words. And the rough draft for Stetson Jeff adventure #2 in the can. I have MOMENTUM! 

I have to yell it or I forget. I was probably around 34 when I began book one. The first twenty percent of a goal is the hardest part! It took me seven years to finish that first twenty percent. But after that, you find a groove.There’s a good possibility I’ll get to sixty percent in another two years.

Numbers aren’t always a writer’s best friend, but do the numbers: if you begin working and you stick with it, attainable lifelong goals can and do happen!

A reason to live

I was asked to write an article for an online mag, and the theme was “What keeps me up at night? What gets me up in the morning?” This is such an intriguing opportunity. Often times I do a variation on the theme, but this month the theme really attracted me so I went straight after it.

What keeps me up at night: I sleep soundly, and I’m good enough at having home/work life balance that I can model that for my life coaching clients. This isn’t to say that I don’t occasionally work in the evening, but that’s usually balanced out by comp time during the day. I stay up to work on my writing projects that don’t always have an immediate financial payoff, but that feels more like hobby time even though it’s work, too. Besides the idea that something keeping you up at night is workload execution, there’s another definition for “what keeps you up at night.” Those are the things that worry you: they keep you up not because you’re working, but because you’re worrying. There are two basic categories that come to mind here: somebody’s after me, or I won’t get what I need tomorrow. These are fear-driven worry issues. The first one is an integrity issue, which could include indebtedness of a variety of kinds. The second is an issue of faith that I’ll have enough. I don’t really like the word “faith” whether you apply it to a higher power or simply to faith in yourself to go get what you need (new contracts or clients, etc.) In fact, just this week my wife and I were up a little later than usual chewing over some of these things. Business is tough, and summer is my slow season.

“I don’t need more faith,” she said, “just more work.”

I’m happy to say that I rarely have trouble sleeping because a) I don’t have too many integrity issues, enemies, or debtors, b) I work really hard so I trust that will bring results when I need them, and c) back to the top, I don’t often work late at night because I have decent work/family life balance. A few days after the hard conversation I had with my wife, things are remarkably different. I had a meeting with a major prospect who may close by the end of the month. Just in the nick of time. You have to have guts, sometimes. Faith other times. Integrity all the time.

What gets me up in the morning? That one’s easy. When the entrepreneurial journey gets tough, sometimes we talk about going back to a factory job, working for the man. The pay is steady, at least. Then we remember how miserable that makes me. I get up in the morning because I absolutely love what I do. I get to provide life coaching, lead an organization, run a business, set my own schedule, write all kinds of books, articles, blogs, and work from home. As I write this my wife is working elsewhere, and my children are home. We don’t have them in daycare. They are unfortunately being babysat by the glowing, one-eyed monster called television… But at least I know what program they’re ingesting.

I have a vision of a different world where everyone has at least one good friend. That’s why I train more coaches; a coach has many roles in terms of accountability and planning, but can also be your friend and peer when your role leaves you peerless. It’s lonely at the top. I make it less so for lots of people, and I love that. I get to deploy my creativity on a regular basis. I love that. I get up in the morning because I love my life, and my work doesn’t (usually) feel like work!

Writer’s Group: Setting a really great goal

What sort of goal pushes you but is attainable? That’s what Justin and I have decided to push ourselves and our group toward, so that each one is making headway in writing their book.

I’m setting this blog up a few days in advance. I committed to 15,000 words this month and I have just over a thousand left, two days to go. I’ll attain my goal. I’ll push for that last amount partly because I’m leading and it would be poor leadership if I don’t lead by example, and partly because I’m serious about meeting my goals anyway. And partly because I’m committing to it once again, with 51 hours to go.

We fully expect that the writers in our group will publish their books sooner, more frequently, and with more quality than if they were not in the group.

Yesterday I sent my editor my final comments on the first round of corrections for the full draft. In less than two weeks, my goal is to finalize all the copy and send it to press. I’m ambitiously shooting for publication, for books in my hands, by December 1.

Set your goals just low enough that you can attain them every month, and just high enough that it will take effort. Both of these are important. You MUST attain your goal each month, otherwise you become discouraged. You must also set it high enough that you have to work for it. Otherwise it’s not a goal. Think of it this way: if you say “my goal is to eat three square meals a day” but you already do that anyway, as sort of a natural course of events, it’s not really a “Goal,” is it? But if you change the goal to something like this: “I will eat small portions including hard boiled eggs and carrot sticks six times a day, making sure to chew my food completely, and cut out sweets for the next eight weeks” there is a pretty good chance you can do it, and a pretty good chance it will take some conscious effort. Just like health and fitness goals, writing goals must be attainable to keep up your enthusiasm and courage, and hard enough to let you know there’s effort involved. Best of luck in November, when many people write short novels … but you could be writing novels every month with just a little more regular discipline and accountability!