Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world your beautiful self!

Posts tagged ‘Big “Why”’

Becoming an Overachiever for Ourselves

Time for a Mindset Reset

I’ve been, for all intents and purposes, self-employed with no other means of support for over 5 years now. Many would look at what I do, as well as my accounting records and say I’m retired. For awhile, I guess I behaved as if I was, but when the bills piled up and outflow exceeded inflow for too many months I had to face reality. If I’m going to call myself self-employed, I need to freakin’ act like it! That means doing whatever I need to to attract clients. But even more, being absolutely clear on what I do and who I want to do it for.

As a writer, that means setting myself a daily schedule for writing, and sticking to it come hell or high water. Part of that was upping the ante on how often I publish. In the last 5 years, I’ve ranged from daily (during a couple of blog challenges) to whenever I felt like it, to weekly, to twice weekly, and finally, to thrice weekly which I’ve maintained for a few months now.

Stifling Demon Procrastination

Once I got into the habit of posting three times a week, I encountered a new challenge. Too often, I’d get to a posting day and think:

Oh shit! It’s time for a post, and I’ve got nothin’! Better dash something off before the day is over!

The trouble with that methodology was I sacrificed quality for procrastination. Of late, I’ve set myself loftier goals. I’m still posting 3 times a week, but now, I insist upon having at least 2 weeks of posts scheduled. I was doing fairly well for awhile, but between tragedy, being a dancing nomad, and the holidays, I’ve slipped my schedule.

It took me a few years, but I’ve finally gotten better about keeping commitments to myself. I was my own red-headed stepchild for too long. Now, I use Trello to keep track of my posts. Every time I schedule one, I get to check it off giving me a small win. As I set them up on my board a month at a time, nothing makes me happier than to see each of my posting days at 100% with month still left over. My ultimate, yet currently unachieved goal is to see myself at 100% before the month has started.

Commitment and Determination

At the moment, I have 6 more to write for next month, and it’s the last day of the month so I’m a bit shy of that goal. But on the positive side, I’ve gotten closer this week. Since the first of the year, I’ve struggled to keep a week ahead, and at the moment, I’m finally back at two, if only for a day, assuming I don’t finish this post today (which by damn, I will!).

Which brings me to the point of this post (only took me about 450 words to get there. ADD is running amok today!). Actually, I have two points. Being self-employed, especially when you’re re-creating yourself in a heretofore non-existent image takes determination, perseverance, and a willingness to fail a few thousand times in the process of getting it right. It can also mean watching your finances dwindle at a rather frightening rate, dipping into resources, or accepting clients you’ve promised to avoid, and cutting back on things you once deemed necessities.

My second point has to do with commitment to yourself. If you’re like me, you were the over-achiever in your office, getting projects done ahead of deadline, working into the wee hours if necessary, and always coming through—for everyone else. You got so good at doing for others, you left yourself hanging on a limb time and time again. When it became only your needs at stake, you had years of bad habits to break before you could set deadlines for yourself and shut off the excuse-o-matic that got in the way of meeting those deadlines.

Entrepreneurs Put Themselves First

I’m a little slower about self-care than most, so it took me the better part of 5 years to finally learn to put myself first. Sure, I am still meeting or beating deadlines for my clients, and it will always be that way. I set high standards for myself when it comes to my clients, and have no intention of changing them. The shift came when I finally internalized the idea that I am my very best client and deserve the same high standards when it comes to completing tasks for me.

Then and only then was I able to complete, first the draft of my memoir, and within 3 months (even with the holidays and some serious traumas and travails), complete the re-write. Sure, I had to both kick and have my butt kicked pretty regularly in order to achieve it, but in the process, I’ve been learning to respect myself more as a client.

Keep Raising That Bar!

Another thing I’ve learned about both building my business and treating my own goals with respect is the bar needs to keep going up. Sure, I’m back to my 2 weeks ahead posting goal, but I want to raise it to 3 sooner than later. Meanwhile, I’ve also set an aggressive, 3 posts a week goal for sharing on Medium. this time, though, I created a spreadsheet with posting dates, date scheduled, exactly which post I’m sharing when, and whether it is coming from my blog site or website. In my past life, I kept on task by having a detailed, specific schedule for when each piece of the project was due.

And oh yes, the publication dates from the spreadsheet are now on a card on Medium as well. It helps to keep due dates in one place, at least for me. I even have a reminder on my daily calendar to check my Trello boards to ensure I stay on track.

I used to tell my staff to use their tools. Funny that it took me so long to take my own advice.

Rules To Live By

To summarize what I’ve learned in the process of reinventing myself as a writer:

  1. Treat yourself like you would your best client.
  2. Set up processes to monitor your projects and deadlines.
  3. Re-visit your deadlines daily.
  4. Accept no excuses for missing any of those deadlines.
  5. Beat all deadlines as often as possible, and it’s always possible.
  6. Never use work for other clients as an excuse to push your own deadlines.
  7. Keep raising the bar. A completed task is an opportunity to add a new one, not a time to rest on our laurels and sip mimosas.
  8. Work ahead wherever possible. Slacking off guarantees a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Murphy who love throwing a monkey wrench into the works to back the whole system up.
  9. Have a couple of butt kickers in your arsenal. Nothing makes you work faster, harder, better than being held accountable by outside sources close to you.
  10. Love yourself enough to believe, achieve, and thrive.

Your Big “Why”

On a final note, I reinvented myself because I realized I’d spent years working for people I couldn’t respect, doing work that had begun to bore me to tears with the tedium. I was a creative stuck in a fairly routine line of work, which to make things worse, was far too people-y for this introvert. I’ve never been happier, if somewhat less affluent than I am working from home on my own schedule (no more getting up before 8 AM to commute) with cats on my desk occasionally interrupting to tell me they’re feeling neglected. (Who am I kidding? What cat ever felt neglected occasionally?)

I’m free to go to the gym during the day when it’s less crowded, take a day off during the week to run errands and avoid the crowds, even meet a friend for lunch, a movie, or anything else. I am also free to work well into the night, or wee hours as the case may be. Those are my productive hours, and no “expert” is ever going to convince me to get up at the crack of dawn because “everyone” is more productive then. I know myself better than anyone, and I’ve learned I don’t hit my productive stride until at least 11AM most days.

I encourage everyone to imagine their perfect life, then go forth and get it. I don’t recommend taking the drastic approach I did, but for some of us, cold turkey is the only way. Get us hungry, and there’s no telling what we can achieve!

Gratitude Greases the Wheels

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my butt kickers.
  2. I am grateful for the leap of faith I took and the reinvention of my life which followed. It might be taking longer than planned, but I’m learning so much along the way.
  3. I am grateful for my failures. From them I learn more than I do from my successes.
  4. I am grateful for my low-stress lifestyle. I only wish I’d realized sooner it was possible.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, opportunities, self-respect, achievements, goals met, goals set, dreams realized, world expanding, self-confidence building, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Are You Committed or Merely Interested?

A Time for Reassessing. Am I Truly Committed?

The last 3 1/2 years have been quite a ride for me. I’ve dabbled in a lot of things, written a few drafts of novels, and several hundred blog posts, but I’ve yet to figure out quite what I want to be when I grow up. No, I take that back. I’ve figured out what I want to be, I just haven’t fully committed to what’s required to get there.

We go through life trying many different things. Some simply interest us, but every so often, one comes along that grabs us by the throat and we have no choice but to commit to it, heart, soul, mind, and body. I thought the writing was it for me, but with each setback, each rejection, each failure to launch, I become less certain.

Step 1: Having a Plan of Action

I know I need a plan, and have come up with several, but have yet to truly stick to anything long-term. Even the plan I typed up and put on my wall hasn’t really come to fruition. I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day writing. I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day reading motivational literature. And worst of all, I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day working on queries or researching companies to send queries to.

Sure, I’m writing a blog post here and there. Yes, I’m doing at least 2 Facebook Lives a week. Yes, I’m still going to the gym most weeks, though the last couple have been challenging, to say the least.

Having a plan is certainly a good place to start. But if you don’t follow the plan, it’s just words on paper, and may as well be in Swahili for all the meaning they bring into our lives. Yet, if you’re truly committed to something, won’t you stick to any plan at all just to be heading in the right direction?

Acknowledging Our Fears and Frustrations

I question myself every day. I ask what I’m afraid of. At first, it was fear of not following through. But if I’m completely honest with myself, I’ve followed through on writing commitments for others again and again. It’s myself I have trouble committing to. But at least that eliminates the excuse that I don’t send out queries because I’m afraid I won’t be able to fulfill the obligation.

I’ve added a number of chapters to Forgotten Victims though I’m far from done. I did pay close attention to a book I’m currently reading in which the writer said that if your purpose in writing is to help other people, you might as wall hang it up. If your purpose is to help yourself, you’re more likely to succeed, at least by finishing what you set out to write. If it helps someone else, great. But the primary goal has to be self-healing. I needed to hear that as I’d gotten off track in writing my memoir.

I’d started posting chapters of Sasha’s Journey to a site of writers who critique each others’ work. But I wasn’t really committed there either. I read and commented on a couple of pieces, then slacked off. And now that they’re changing the rules and want us to post on our own blog sites and link to theirs, I’m not going to waste my time. If I wanted to post it on my site, I’d have already done so.

So the frustration, the backpedaling and the discouragement continues.

And again I ask myself “Am I committed or merely interested?”

Giving My Life Blood for Someone Else’s Dreams

The reality is, I’ve just about used up the time I had to dabble here, and fritter there. I need to get focused on what I truly want to do, what I’m truly passionate about; and throw myself into it wholeheartedly. Because if I don’t, I deserve no more than to work the rest of my life to pad someone else’s retirement fund. At least there, I know what I do not want.

It’s funny how figuring out what you don’t want in life is pretty easy. You just have to take all the things you’ve found uncomfortable or annoying all your life, put them in a pile and light a match. Those are your “don’t wants”.

Being Clear on What You Do Want

Figuring out what you truly do want is another story entirely. I want to write, yet I go for days without writing a word.

I want to be independent. But I go for days without doing a thing to move myself forward.

I want to do good for others, but here I sit, devoting time and energy to just worry about myself. That’s energy I won’t get back and it benefits no one.

I want to be an inspirational speaker, but until recently, was doing little or nothing towards that end. At least now I’ve signed up to volunteer at a summit for speakers in October. I’ve also been reading books like Talk Like Ted to help me understand what makes a truly great speaker. I’ve been incorporating what I’m learning into both my Facebook Lives and my writing. I’m also watching how other people speak, paying close attention to what does and does not work. As  a result, my more recent Facebook Lives have been under 15 minutes. (18 minutes is optimum for a TED talk. I figure a live broadcast should be shorter).

The Best Lessons Come From Watching Others

While watching one live broadcast recently, I realized how important it is to be prepared before you go live, and to have all of the tools you’ll need for the broadcast within reach. Nothing screams “unprofessional” to your viewers like staring at an empty wall while you disappear to find something you needed for your talk.

With all of the setbacks, with all of the failures, I must still be committed in some fashion, because here I sit, writing another post which will support one of my Facebook Live broadcasts. I created an editorial calendar today which will be the home to everything I need to write, both for publication on my own sites and for others.

Focus on What Is Working Instead of What’s Not

I’m getting back into the habit of writing late at night, even if it’s only 500 words. If I put it in perspective, 500 words a day will give me the 30,000 words or so I still need for my memoir in about 2 months. Considering how long it’s been a work-in-progress, 60 days is nothing!

Like the carpet that still needs to be pulled up in my bedroom, like the garage that needs to be shoveled out (though I have made some progress in recent weeks), like the yard that needs to be weed whacked—everything begins with a single step.

A few weeks ago, I pulled up another section of the carpet. I can do another section now. I just need to get up and do it.

I’ve been consistent with my Facebook Lives. Now I need to be more consistent with the coordinating blog post.

I’ve put the deadlines for client work on my new calendar. I know I’ll meet or beat those deadlines. Can I say the same of deadlines I set for my own work? Someone recently mentioned they’d committed to 3 blog posts a week. There’s not a single reason why I can’t do the same, even if I write them all in one day and schedule them to post throughout the week. I’ve proven time and again that knocking out a 1200-1500 word post is pretty much child’s play for me.

The Big “Why”

Everyone talks about the big “why”. Mine is becoming so clear that I inadvertently picked out a paint color to go with the life I want to live. It was brought home to me yesterday when my daughter and I took a couple of wrong turns and ended up driving along the beach. The water was the exact color I’d chosen for my dining room wall! Thanks to my daughter, it is now a beautiful dark teal, the same color as the ocean yesterday. The rest of the walls are in process of becoming a lighter version of the same color. Every time I walk out into my living room, despite the furniture sitting in the middle of the floor and the fine layer of dust coating everything, I feel both energized and soothed just by looking at that beautiful ocean-colored wall.

I also broke down and bought the resin Adirondack chairs I’d fallen in love with a week or so ago. They, too fit the life and setting I envision for myself.

My big “why” is alive and well. It’s now a matter of committing everything I have, everything I am to making it happen.

Writing has always been my best therapist, and tonight is no different. I began this piece feeling like an utter failure with no real possibility of achieving my dreams. But as I think of the changes I’ve made even in the last couple of weeks, I realize I’m more committed than I give myself credit for. I’m simply moving towards my goals in my usual convoluted fashion. It may seem like I’m aimless and uncommitted, but somehow, in my own weird way, I’m getting where I’m going.

Remembering Always to be Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful for the supportive people who continue to find their way into my life. My blessings grow daily.
  2. I am grateful for my personal therapist who has a way of turning my frown into a smile no matter how bad I think things are looking.
  3. I am grateful for the opportunities that are literally dropping into my lap lately.
  4. I am grateful for learning how to ask for help, and how to put myself into places where I can find exactly what I need.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; resources, friendship, courage, companionship, progress, improvements, signs, commitment, love, joy, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the Facebook Live which inspired this post here.

 

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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