Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
– Robert Collier
I have big goals this year, and I have to admit: I am struggling with the process—the process of getting this blog off the ground, writing the sequel to my book, and getting fit.
The process is taking longer than I like.
The process makes me question and doubt.
The process is tempting me to quit.
The process would be so much better if I would just. . .
It is an easy thing to be stuck in the process and wallow in self-doubt.
As Jeff Goins, a best-selling author, speaker, and blogger states in many of his webinars, “It is not a matter of IF; it is a matter of WHEN.”
Our timing will come. We will succeed. Sometimes we just need some reminders of the essential ingredients to success.
I have previously written about Stu Mittleman, who is an ultra-distance running champion. Stu set three consecutive American 100-Mile Road Race records in the US National Championships 1980–1982.
In 1986, he won the 1,000 Mile World Championship and set a new world record by running the distance in 11 days, 2 hours, 6 min. 6 sec.
Can you even imagine running 1,000 miles?
I can’t even imagine running ten.
Think about it: 1,000 miles without stopping for over 11 days?
What is even more thought provoking was Stu’s answer when he was asked about the race. He stated:
It is a powerful statement with an effective principle that, when applied, can allow us to do amazing things.
Goals are attainable when we break down them down into smaller, actionable steps.
I am currently working on my book sequel, which for this genre, needs to contain around 50,000 words. If I let myself dwell on that word count for too long, I become paralyzed. Can you say, writer’s block?
This is my second book, so I am now working with a track record—I’ve completed a book once, so I can do it again. That is the story I tell myself on those days when completing the book seems just too daunting. I am only 14,000 words in and the final product, at this point, seems so far away.
What keeps me going is Stu’s philosophy. When I sit down to write, I give myself a goal of 500 words. 500-words is reasonable, manageable, and not too intimidating. I am a slow writer when it comes to fiction—some days the words and dialogue come easier, and some days I really struggle. But regardless, I tell myself: get those 500 words done.
And then after that, I concentrate on a new set of 500 words. I may drastically edit those words; I may even delete them entirely, but for that moment I am writing and moving forward.
One of my favorite quotes is from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I read the book in high school and the following words leapt off the page:
“ . . . man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back.
I recite this to myself whenever I feel stuck. I know that I will make a lot of mistakes along the way to my goals. I have made a lot of mistakes, but that is how we learn.
To use my book analogy again, I will tell you that I ended up deleting at least 8,000 words—that is a lot of work to just toss aside. It was hard, but I knew that it was for the betterment of the story. Those 8,000 words were not wasted, however. In many cases, they were my back-story and helped me get to know my characters and their motivations better.
I even re-wrote my ending after getting feedback from several reviewers — and you know what? My new ending was so much better. The very last line of my book is one of my absolute favorites—I would not have it if I wasn’t willing to make changes.
There is nothing wrong with tweaking, polishing, and making adjustments. That is the definition of improvement.
As Thomas Edison once said, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work.”
Thank God for Edison’s persistence. He not only discovered the light bulb, but also the telegraph, phonograph, motion pictures, and many other devices—his successful and unsuccessful experiments paved the way for high-tech audio and visual devices.
Comparing oneself to others is a success-robber and does nothing but create self-doubt. Trust me, nothing good comes from it.
As I wrote in an earlier posting, I was raised with my mother always telling me: “There will be people who have more than you, but there will also be people who have less than you. Be grateful for what you have.”
She would also say: Trust that you are where you need to be at this moment.
Do not compare your success with someone else’s. You are farther along than you were before and you will be farther along than you are now.
Right now, I am taking a self-paced blogging course. In conjunction, there is an online Facebook community group, which is a great resource and support. The problem for me is that I allowed it to intimidate me. There are so many other bloggers in that Facebook group doing what I do—and doing it better. Rather than relying on it for advice and encouragement, I allowed it to discourage me. I became paralyzed and filled with self-doubt.
I had to step away. I had to re-think my strategy. I had to UNPLUG. I decided that I would visit this group when I am ready for it. For now, I need to concentrate on MY WORK. I cannot give credence to the negative voices looking to sabotage my efforts–these negative voices appear when I compare myself.
Reminders #4 and #5 work closely together. I am a big believer in visualization and its power. In order to BE IT, you must first be able to SEE IT.
I know that many of my friends think I am a dreamer; I feel as if they are saying, “There she goes again trying something else now. This is another one of her projects that she hasn’t finished.”
The truth is I am still working towards the same goals; however, I sometimes had to take a different path after a bit of trial and error growth. I can see my master plan—what matters is that I CONTINUE to stay focused on and work towards that master plan. The only way that I can do this is by putting my blinders on. I mentioned unplugging–I’ve had to unplug from social media in order to keep these blinders on. Social media can contain many temptations to be distracted and intimidated.
It sounds weird; my family thinks that I just like taking a lot of naps (which I do), but. . .
I literally make time to lie down and daydream. This is where my story ideas come from (future scenes in my book or other blog postings); this is when I visualize my dreams and think of the next steps which will get me closer to my goals. This is when I pray to God and ask for His guidance and help.
It is important that you take time for you, your goals, and give yourself permission to DREAM BIG!
I would love to hear from all of you. Tell me your goals and dreams. Share with me your insight and things that you have learned.
We are all in this together! We are all fragile beings who are learning and improving.
If you are taking risks, if you are stepping outside your comfort zone, if you are feeling fearful and unsure than YOU SHOULD FEEL PROUD! There are so many people not brave enough to go after their dreams, who are not willing to TRY or LEARN new things. Remember, you are where you need to be today. Tomorrow you will be even farther along and you will look back with pride and say: