I’m sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned from writing and publishing my first book. Check out Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 for more details.

Lesson 3 – Focus on the process, not the results. Because even when you follow the process, the results aren’t guaranteed.

The world is filled with stories of stuff that didn’t work. Failed inventions. Business ideas that a person poured their heart and soul into, only to see that the market didn’t support it. Sometimes, we even use those stories as a reason not to try.

I loved Seth Godin’s book, What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn). It very eloquently describes the exact phenomenon I experienced as part of the process. There is no guaranteed, tried-and-true method to create a #1 song, a bestseller, or a viral sensation. But wanting these results often changes our approach. We try what worked for someone or something else and hope it will apply to us. And it’s disappointing when that doesn’t work.

But the value is in the process itself. To quote David Whyte, “Good work, done well for the right reasons and with an end in mind” is the reward. Not the positive or negative reviews from others.

It’s about putting your best into the end product authentically, regardless of how it’s received by anyone else.

An awesome friend and fellow writer helped me keep my eye on the process every single time I got distracted by fear of possible results. Sidebar: if you love football (and who doesn’t really?!?!), check out his books on the NFL draft and free agency.

So what sorts of fears were distracting me? Fears like: What if everyone hates it? They might. What if no one buys a copy? Definitely a possibility. What if I spell a word wrong and get a bunch of negative reviews and angry emails? Some people do get upset with poor grammar.

All of those things I listed are possibilities. There are lots of others too, like selling a million copies or becoming a New York Times bestseller (funny how we don’t worry about those positive results like we do the negative!). Either way, I don’t control the results. So I can’t let it change what I’m doing or how I’m doing it or why I’m doing it!

Easy to say… much harder to let go of the results when we’re in the thick of things at work. Sometimes we need the results in order to earn a bonus or reward. Sometimes we need the results to keep our jobs. It can become high stakes, high stress really quickly.

The interesting thing is that when we keep our focus on doing good work for the right reasons, the results often follow.

#PositiveAction What results or fears do you need to let go of so you can focus your attention on the process of doing good work?

 

 

 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The boring, unglamorous steps help bring the dream to life!

In case you missed it last week, I wrote a book! And now I’m sharing a few of the lessons I learned through that process. You can see Lesson 1 here. 

Lesson 2 – The vision never included these steps, but they’re integral to the process.

Our biggest dreams are often very detailed. We dream with our 5 senses, experiencing the achievement long before it ever comes to fruition. When someone imagines themselves holding the academy award and giving their acceptance speech, they can hear the applause and cheers. They can feel the joy in that moment! 

No one imagines filming 50 takes in the pouring rain after putting on makeup for 6 hours, just to get the exact right emotion into the exact right sentence only to have it cut out of the film in final editing. But the 50 takes and the award go together; you need both.

Here’s a huge discovery I made that I’ll share in case there are any aspiring writers out there. The best way to write a book? It’s to actually start writing a book! Can you believe it? But for 20 years, I’d imagined seeing the book on a shelf (or in later years in an online bookstore). I didn’t necessarily dream about writing every day. And yet, that’s a key step in the process. 

Unfortunately, the process is often not glamorous or even fun. There are days when you don’t have time or you don’t feel like doing it or you have nothing to say or there’s no inspiration to be found anywhere. But without putting in the work, the dream doesn’t happen.

There are lots of people that have a dream job that is different than their current role. They can see the awesome job, company, and co-workers as part of it. They can feel the joy. But guess what’s needed to get there? Lots of unglamorous steps in the process. Updating their resume, gaining new skills, applying to jobs, and facing the rejection that applying to jobs inevitably brings. 

So what should we do? First, we need to recognize that the path to where we want to go is filled with distractions and unglamorous, though necessary steps. 

Then, we need to commit to making progress in the face of that knowledge. For me, it was committing to write regularly. In the case of the dream job, it’s committing to do the steps to take you there. Like any interesting journey, it’s not always fun, but it’s definitely worth it!

#PositiveAction What do you need to commit to doing to allow you to achieve a goal or dream? Take one small step today!

 

Image by fvoellmer from Pixabay

 

I’ve been sharing my becoming-a-published-author journey over the past few months and today it’s officially official! Change Authentically: A guide to transform your job and life through positive action is published! And confetti rains down Super Bowl style!! 

At least, it did in my head! And if you know me, you know I’d hate to have to sweep and vacuum up all that confetti, so it’s probably better it was imaginary. Let’s keep the celebration clean and orderly, shall we?

I’ve had a little time to reflect on the process of writing and self-publishing. It was a surprising, exciting, sometimes terrifying journey, a lot like anything new. There are things I would do differently next time (yes, there WILL be a next time!) now that I’ve been through the process. And there are some interesting lessons I wanted to share, since they apply to work.

Lesson 1 – A bunch of details that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things stand between you and the ONE THING that does matter

I’ve wanted to write a book for at least 20 years (you can read an excerpt here). There are lots of reasons and excuses as to why I didn’t up to this point. But I knew someday, I eventually would do it. The writing part was fun for me – it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed. The many details of the self-publishing process on the other hand, were not.

Did you know that you can pick between three different paper colors for your printed book? AND that each paper choice is a slightly different thickness? AND that slightly different thickness when stacked on top of each other in book format changes the width of the spine of the book? And by the way, the width of the spine then has implications for a whole bunch of other choices to be made!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when faced with so many interconnected decisions. But the funny thing is, as much as they all impact the final product, they don’t really matter all that much. I’ve never chosen to read or not read a book based on the spine size. Or the color of paper. Or a whole bunch of other inconsequential details.

All those choices can become distractions if we let them. It’s easy to spend hours on the internet reading about which paper is the absolute best paper for a specific usage. To endlessly debate and agonize over each decision to be made. And it also could prevent me from moving toward the end goal of publishing a book, which was my big aspiration all along.

I needed to instead focus my attention on the minimums. Fill out the required fields and move on. Trust me, even this approach took WAY longer than I expected, and was not without its fair share of debating before deciding!

I sure wish life came with a required fields indicator! It’s easy to get caught up in the details of the everyday, the things that seem so important in the moment. It’s much harder to sift through those things objectively to figure out what matters. Sometimes it’s only through the benefit of hindsight that we can see more clearly what did and didn’t help us in the process. 

Whether we figure it out in the moment or through the benefit of time, hopefully we’re taking those lessons forward with us so that the next time we’re faced with an endless sea of distractions, we can more easily move forward toward that one thing that matters most.

#PositiveAction What tiny distractions are keeping you from making real progress on your big goal? Set a deadline to figure them out and then commit to moving forward!

Book cover image by Erin Zastrow