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

Posts tagged ‘mindset’

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

We Are Fanatics

Fanatics, from

1: disapproving : a person exhibiting excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion toward some controversial matter (as in religion or politics)

  • a religious fanatic [=extremist]
  • The fanatics are convinced they are serving a righteous cause and that all means are justified … —Flora Lewis

2 : a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity

  • a boating/sports/racing fanatic
  • She’s a real fanatic when it comes to working out.
  • Since the U.S. economy began to sputter in 2008, shoppers have become coupon fanatics and lovers of buy-one-get-one-free deals … —Janet K. Keeler

Butting Heads

This week I tried to have a rational discussion on a topic which, in my opinion has many sides. Unfortunately, some folks with whom I engaged believe there are only two. I discovered what I should have known in the first place; such a discussion was doomed to failure. In the minds of some people with whom I conversed, the only two sides to the issue were: their side ( the “right” one) and anything which doesn’t agree 100% with their viewpoint (the “wrong” one). All my efforts to demonstrate the many shades of grey fell on deaf ears due to the fanatical devotion inherent to the issue. This fanaticism dictated that no matter where you might stand, opinions would be strong and unshakeable.

That isn’t to say my mind was any less closed to the information they were trying to impart, nor that my methods of communication were in any way effective. Though I might not stand firmly on one of the extremes of the issue I am still firmly rooted in the grey zone where I choose to stand. This renders a truly open minded discussion of ideas impossible and more than mildly frustrating. It should come as no surprise that frustration ultimately led to a need in some cases for labeling, if only to ease that frustration when seemingly reasonable arguments were inadequate in achieving the only “acceptable” outcome; altering someone else’s mindset.

The Only Mind We Can Change is Our Own

I learned long ago that altering a person’s mindset is an exercise in futility. We set our minds on various subjects based on deep-seated emotions embedded by events from our past to which we reacted without concern for logic or reason. There is only one person capable of freeing us from those emotional attachments, and the process can be difficult and painful. Yet in the end, the results are also intensely liberating, though the process ain’t for the faint of heart!

The experience left me feeling sad and disconnected but also got me wondering. Is there a way to truly hear each other out without allowing emotions, preconceived notions, and personal experience to automatically tune out what is not in alignment with our own often logic-defying beliefs?

The answer came when I stopped focusing my attention on the whole thing as a problem and opened up to receive possible solutions. In order to be receptive to beliefs in opposition to our own, we have the be willing to listen consciously. That is, we turn off the thinking/judging/emotion-driven part of our brain and listen to the words as just a vehicle for conveying an idea, nothing more. We eliminate the element of persuasion on either side, taking the words at face value, as descriptions of the concept under discussion. We allow ourselves to ask questions when the chosen words don’t paint a clear enough picture to allow us to understand a point of view which differs so much from our own we have no point of reference.

Set Aside Any Expectations and Just Listen

We also have to turn off the frustration that can and will come when we’re trying to listen to the words of another with as little judgment as humanly possible, knowing they might be either unwilling or unable to do the same. We have to make it our mission to understand the factors which led them to their strongly held position while refraining from trying to impose our own strongly held convictions on them, or for that matter, anyone else. We can exchange information but we have to accept we have no control over how the information we share is processed, or even if it is at all. In short, we have to separate the words and the concepts they represent from any emotional attachment life and experience may have attached to them, not only in our own minds but in the minds of those we seek to understand.

Navigating the Non-Existent “Either-Ors”

The study of economics uses an example called “guns or butter”. It evaluates consumers’ response to an either-or situation. There is no gray area. If you want more of one, you give up some of the other. It seems the latest political machinations are trying to push us into choices like that, where seemingly unrelated choices impact each other. What makes it work so well is the cleverly devised options which are known to elevate emotional responses and cause logical ones to malfunction. By triggering fanatical behavior, attention is diverted from less emotional, yet more far-reaching issues happening right beneath our noses.

The media is being used to exercise another tactic I remember from the last time political activism encompassed large swaths of society; the Viet Nam era. Then, like now, we were given arbitrary targets on which to vent our ire. It might have been soldiers who, because of the draft served whether they wanted to or not, or a large corporation someone decided bore responsibility for some of the nation’s ills. We needed someone to blame for our less-than-perfect lives, and picked someone or something which had little to nothing to do with it. Some things don’t change, nor are lessons learned with the passage of time.

Then as now, we had sit-ins, marches, and even riots. We may not have had a clear picture of where we wanted to go, but we were sick and tired of the way things were. Sound familiar?

Developing a Plan of Action

But change for the sake of change only results in chaos. Today’s society is simply a greater manifestation of the many small, entrepreneurial businesses which spring up by the dozens every day. I’m reminded of this quote:

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. – Joel A. Barker – BrainyQuote.

In other words, we can all want things to change and even demand changes be made. But unless we work together to develop real, workable plans, not only to identify what we need to change and how, but the steps we need to take to make it happen, we’ll continue to be at odds with each other over how we envision those changes. While change remains nothing but visions in our minds, it will serve no one, and accomplish nothing. We’ll be mired in the myopia with which every one of us views the world; a myopia born of our own experiences and all too often, fanatical attachment to the beliefs those experiences created.

Marlowe Aster shares her insightful viewpoint on the political hydra we’re fighting. I found her words thought-provoking and they helped me clarify my own viewpoint. I hope they’ll be valuable to you as well.

No Matter What Happens, I Am Still Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the diversity of viewpoints and that I am, at least part of the time, able to listen and learn without judgment.
  2. I am grateful for the ability to establish and maintain friendships with a diverse network of people, and to overlook the extremism which lurks just beneath the surface in all of us. It isn’t always an easy task, but the knowledge gained is worth the effort.
  3. I am grateful for my writing which allows me to share my own struggles with fanaticism, emotion-based beliefs, and other human behavior which may stand in my way and thwart me in my efforts to learn and grow.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to recognize flaws in myself by interacting with others. They truly are mirrors into my own soul-deep behavior.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, lessons, challenges, growth, experience, health, peace, harmony, function and dysfunction, inspiration, motivation, mentors, opportunities, new roads, magick, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write your expert book with you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author.

Be sure to watch this space for news of the upcoming release of “Forgotten Victims: Healing and Forgiving After Suicide”.

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