Thursday, December 4, 2014

Five Ways to Turn "One Day" into "Today"

On Monday I posted a blog about the "Four Things that Changed my Writing World." At the end of the post I tossed out a few questions.

I wondered what it was that kept people from following their dreams and meeting their goals.

I have an aunt, for instance, who loves writing. Years ago, she was inspired while on a walk. For months afterward, every time she was on that walk, she would plot the story in her mind. I'm pretty sure she was close to having it all mapped out. The only thing left was to actually get the words on paper.  She hasn't, as far as I know. We eventually stopped talking about it, because 

It was always an "idea" that never became an "action." 

For me, that was extremely frustrating.

I didn't understand the disconnect.

What lies between good intentions and goals and action? What is this void? What is this black hole of nothing that sucks us in and keeps us from living up to our potential?

I honestly don't know, but if it came up in conversation today, here's the advice I would give my aunt: 

1. Call yourself what you want to be.  

I don't care what it is: writer, painter, cross country skier, or the best office manager or teacher in your department.  Give yourself the label. Write it on the mirror, on a sticky note, post it on the fridge---anywhere you will see it. Say it. Repeat it. All the time.

Even if you've never written a whole chapter or picked up a paintbrush: 

The first step is acknowledging you have
something to offer the world, and then owning it. 

2. Set realistic goals. 

Figure out what it is you want to learn or accomplish most and get a game plan together. Add a deadline.

(I will read one book related to my career field by Sunday afternoon. I will paint one landscape each week for a month. I will write one thousand words a day until my novel is complete.) 

3. Get the tools you need to make the job easier. 

Get the apps. Take the class. Buy the book. Locate the supplies. If it's important to you, it's your responsibility to make it happen. No excuses. 

4. Make time to accomplish the goals you set. 

Even if it's just an hour on weekends, or thirty minutes a day, every step (even the small ones) takes you closer to the end result. 

You're not failing as long as you're trying,
 but you have to schedule the time, then protect it like mad. 

5. Find someone who will hold you accountable. 

For me, it's readers waiting for my next book. For you, maybe it's a spouse or a sibling or a best friend. Maybe it's your iPad, and the reminder you set for yourself each day. If someone expects something from you, and you know they're going to ask about it, you're more likely to make accomplishing the task a priority. At most, you'll get the job done. At the very least, it will save you the awkwardness and discomfort of having to fumble through the excuses.

All that to say: Please don't be my aunt, and don't spend another second dreaming about "one day."

One day I'll write a novel.
One day I'll sign up for a pottery class.
One day I'll audition for community theater.
One day I'll sit down at the piano again.

Do it today. I dare you. :D

That is all!