The poplar tree partition behind our house is filling in beautifully. And I must fill in as well.
I said, in my “New Beginning” post on Monday, that I intend to make a plan, to declare my plan, and then work to carry it out.
My Change and My Model
I want to write.
Well, I do write. But I need to write more – and more consistently. I need to write blog posts, articles – whatever useful and helpful writing I can turn my hand to.
And I need to support myself – and my friend Charlie – by writing.
That’s my overall objective in a nutshell. The short term objective isn’t too bad. The longer term objective is a stretch.
That is the change I want to make.
I’m taking my model for approaching this change from Leo Babauta – known the blogosphere over for his Zen Habits blog. A persistent thread through all of Leo’s writing is personal change.
On April 10, 2008, Leo published a post to Zen Habits titled “13 Things to Avoid When Changing Habits.” He wrote:
I’ve not only learned a lot about what you should do when changing habits, but through my failures, I’ve learned about what not to do.
Among his 13 points, he suggested: take on one habit at a time, for one month at a time – commit to a plan on paper – and have some form of accountability.
I am going to take Leo’s “13 Things to Avoid …” post as my map – my model.
My goal, over the next four weeks, is to write more. Objective: Weeks 1 & 2, write (and post to one of my three blogs) at least 3 or 4 articles per week. Weeks 3 & 4, the same, but for at least 4 or 5 articles per week.
My end date: Sunday, June 1st.
Leo mentions having a reward. While it’s likely that having succeeded in actually making the targeted personal change is more precious than any small prize, the prize presents something concrete to strive for – to focus on – when the stated goal is a bit more nebulous.
My reward is that my friend and I get to take a drive – a day-trip – to Rehoboth Beach. We love to drive down, have lunch at Nicola’s, touch the ocean, and browse a few of the shops – probably stopping at Willey Farms on the way back to Wilmington.
We win this reward if I succeed in my week 1 & 2 goal. And we win it a second time if I succeed in my week 3 & 4 goal.
We love visiting the Delaware beaches, and we haven’t for yonks. The reason is variously affording the time or the money. But this is our prize. If I succeed, then we proceed.
Leo suggests having some kind of accountability built into your plan.
I plan to report my progress at the end of each week. Sunday or Monday, I will post a progress report on this blog.
I need to realize what my obstacles are – and realization is clearer if I write them out.
It seems that my main obstacles are: routine chores about the house and errands out – I am the primary care giver for my friend – and procrastination of one sort or another.
Dustin Wax posted an article on Lifehack titled “Read This Now! Stop Procrastinating and Get Stuff Done – or Else!” I found most interesting his explanation of why procrastination feels good. He wrote:
When we procrastinate, we tend to do stuff that we know how to do – there’s no risk. And avoiding risk feels good – our brain loves it when we don’t do stuff that puts us out in the open, stuff that makes us vulnerable.
I found that to be an intriguing description of what I do – a lot. Planning and organizing is something I do quite well. It’s beguiling. And without some care, I could persist with planning and organizing endlessly.
I need to cross over that line to “doing”. I need to cross that threshold, and enter the special world, as Chris Vogler paraphrased Joseph Campbell.
That doesn’t mean that planning and organizing goes away. I need to always be looking for ways to make things better – with my writing – and with any other part of my life.
But the MTB effort (Make Things Better) needs to be a secondary, background process. My writing needs to be a primary, foreground process.
There will be times when you falter, almost invariably. Who will you turn to when you need encouragement?
This is an awkward point for me. I progressed through life as an introvert hermit. I have no close friends, except for my Charlie. He’s a serious part of my motivation. But he’s not able to remember or understand any longer, so he can’t give much support.
It’s difficult to figure where else to look for support. Life is challenge enough, and people generally don’t have the resources to support someone who isn’t directly and necessarily their responsibility. If someone needs support, it’s too often because they don’t deal well with life’s challenges – or should I say “with life’s opportunities”?
I need to learn to succeed on my own. I need to learn to thrive – regardless of difficulties.
I need to cultivate an infectious positive attitude and support myself.
I need to demonstrate that I can do it. Then I will have all the support I need.
Tools – Activities
I am taking two courses by Angela Booth – an Australian writer.
The course that is most germane to my current efforts is her “Write More” course. The subtitle to the course is “Develop a Fast, Fun, Productive Writing Process” – so it’s easy to see how the lessons could support my efforts.
Apart from that, I’m trying for an ongoing, gentle effort to maintain and improve my: style, grammar, awareness and use of SEO keywords, and online research skills.
What’s my next step? After this initial four weeks, where do I go from there?
I haven’t figured this out yet.
But I don’t want to delay my start until I do figure it out.
Publishing however many articles in a given period of time will be useful in getting me started. I’m not sure there’s a better approach to getting started.
Continuing my 3 to 5 articles per week goal for a while might be more helpful than pushing my count and crashing my project. And 3 to 5 per week is far ahead of anything I’ve done since I started.
But working on articles that need more research might be a complementary color to work into my canvas. It’s something to think about.
Where do I go from here? I’ll work on it. It’ll come to me.
And so …
Joseph Campbell, in the introduction to his book, Pathways to Bliss, wrote:
You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there’s a way or path, it is someone else’s path; each human being is a unique phenomenon.
The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss.
I need to find what works for me.
I need to make it work.