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This month I started the Masterclass with Lisa Call in which we start by setting goals for the year ahead

Now, I am, if I may say so, a master of setting goals. I probably don’t need a class for that. Except, I am greedy. And so I am not so good at limiting the goals to what I can actually achieve. I want to do it all and I forget that’s not possible.

Note, I am not saying that I don’t believe we can achieve anything we set our minds to. I am not saying we should set small easy goals. I believe in dreaming big and setting challenging goals, goals that are just outside your reach.

I am talking about the fact that if you are going to do set big targets, at some point you have to focus on one or two of those big, hairy, audacious goals at a time. Especially if you also have a full-time job and a marriage and a need to sleep from time to time. Splitting your focus means that you do several things pretty well rather than one or two things in an awesome way. That may be fine to you, a trade-off you feel works well. For me though, I increasingly came to feel compromised. The mental energy it took to switch from one project to another and to quell the self-disappointment that I was not fulfilling my true potential in any one of them became wearing. I had to accept; I can do it all, just not all today.

Yet, I fought against giving anything up. Isn’t giving up a sign of weakness, of lack of backbone and effort?

Um, no.

So often, once you start to place your attention in a certain place, the Universe seems to shower you with answers. In one week, three things happened.

1. I read Seth Godin’s The Dip, in which the basic premise is that successful people give up what they don’t have the resources to do really well in order to focus on where they can best succeed.

2. Michael Hyatt wrote a blog post in which he said,

“There is an old Chinese proverb that says, ‘Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.’ This applies to platform building just as it does to most areas of life. The key to success is focus.”

3. Leo Babuta wrote on Zen Habits that he had “drastically and heartwrenchingly” but on hold nine projects to achieve “intense focus”. He wrote,

“And so, I am going through pain and letting go of many things I love to make one awesome thing. To give myself the opportunity of reinvention. To put my entire being into one creation, to aim myself unreservedly and with abandon into one spot in the Universe. Its game time.”

Now, I am not exactly known for doing things just because other people tell me to do so, so I did not blindly follow this advice and example. I did, however, feel empowered to realise that my instincts to trim down and focus were supported by such eminent advisors. I also felt quite smug that I didn’t have nine projects to have to consider giving up!

So, I’d like to say that I immediately took action. In fact I whinged about the decision to a long-suffering friend who quite rightly told me it was matter for me not her to decide. And I tried to whine about it to Lisa Call,but being the good coach, she is, she just made me pick a date to make a decision and then emailed on that date asking what it was.

Gulp. The decision is… Plan• Create •Succeed has to go.

The idea was great. But the blog as you see it bears no resemblance to the idea. It never will unless I am prepared to make it my main focus. Which I am not, because I want that to be making art. So this is my last post.

And you know, now I’ve been and gone and announced it, it feels good. I feel lighter and excited about getting on with learning to make better art.

I will, however, still be writing about planning, creating and succeeding but I am wrapping that up with my existing art blog over at www.helenconwaydesign.com. So please come over there and follow me and I’ll let you know how this focus thing is working out!

 

Ten ways to increase your confidence

Confidence is the ability to follow your chosen path without being hindered by fear of failure or rejection. Life can be scary. When I was a baby lawyer, appearing before certain judges would bring me out in a hot sweat in case I was criticised and embarrassed. The first time I spoke at a big conference I spent most of the night under a duvet on the bathroom floor I was so sick with fear I would do it badly . But eventually both those activities became second nature simply because I did them so often I started to know what I was doing and even to enjoy it and there was nothing left to fear.

Confidence

Photo from Son of Groucho/Creative Commons

With creativity, though, my fear is more subtle. With art I am revealing much more personal things about myself. Your art is about who you are, what you care about and how you express that passion. And there are no set procedural rules to tell you exactly what to do as there are in law. I find it easy to become stifled by fears that my art is in some undefinable way ‘not good enough’ or that I am not a ‘real artist’.

So, I got to thinking. What have I learned in my legal career that might help you and me both to be confident in our creative endeavours? Here are ten techniques that have worked for me and I hope will help you too:

  1. Be good friends with yourself. Would you constantly tell your best friend she was no good, that she was wasting her time, that she was talentless, hopeless, stupid or plain mediocre? I bet if you did she wouldn’t be your best friend for too long. So don’t do it to yourself. Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.
  2. Change your language. How we speak influences how we think. I habitually accept a compliment with, “Thank you. Its only…” Or “Oh that? Its just…” But We don’t need to sabotage ourselves in order to not seem arrogant and immodest. Try asking a question instead of giving a comment. ” Oh, Thank you. What did you like about it?” Or simply a statement. “It was inspired by my Grandad’s old diary..”. Watch out for inbuilt expectations of disaster in your language. So rather than, “Well, I’m going to try and have a go at making a quilt.”, say simply. “I am going to make a quilt.”. Listen to your habitual phrases and correct yourself. Or as they say in Northern Ireland, “Catch yourself on, now.”
  3. Get yourself a mentor. Find someone who will speak the truth to you and will happily and naturally point out your achievements without jealousy . Someone who will pull you up when you start to kick yourself down. It helps if they have some shared knowledge of your activities so I found it useful to have one person for my law career and others for my art. You dont want them to puff you up with platitudes and ideally they will be good at constructive criticism, but you do want someone who will believe in you when you dont believe in yourself. N o suitable friends? Pay a professional coach. My friend Diane Hock fulfils this role for me wonderfully but I have also signed up to Lisa Call’s Masterclass for an additional perspective.
  4. Set a motto. When I was a trainee solicitor I changed departments every six months. My first boss happened to be the man who originally interviewed me. He was encouraging, patient, and supportive. I flourished under his tutelage, even though I had zero desire to be a conveyancer like him. My second boss ignored me except when he was bullying me. He taught me nothing and was angry when I didn’t know what he failed to tell me. I wanted to quit. I felt stupid and had no confidence at all that I had what it took to be a solicitor. Then, approaching the end of my second six months I was asked to sort through some papers and accidentally saw the notation Boss No 1 had made on my interview invitation. He had simply written: definitely Yes. My confidence soared. He had no doubt about me. If the man I admired so much thought that of me then who was I to doubt it? I stuck it out with Boss No 2, moved into the family department and began the career I love and am good at. But for years afterwards ( and even sometimes now) when I got scared and doubted I had what it took I scribbled ‘DY’ on a post it note and placed it where I could see it. Its all it takes.
  5. Start with courage not confidence. Confidence is accumulated from a series of good experiences. But how do you get the confidence to get out there the very first time? Simple answer. You don’t. Instead you pluck up courage. Whereas confidence is doing something knowing you may not get the desired outcome but not being afraid of that, courage is being afraid but doing it anyway.
  6. Remember others feel the same way. This post started because I asked on an online list whether the successful and seemingly serene artists I saw out there in the world also suffered from a lack of confidence at times. The answer was, yes. Because fear is an internal emotion so often we assume others do not feel it. But they do. At the end of my first day at a big new legal job a friend in the same post but elsewhere in the country rang to see how I had got on. I told him it was OK because I had simply acted as if I knew what I was doing, pretended I was competent and the public seemed to buy it. His reply? “What do you think the rest of us do everyday?”
  7. Record your achievements When I set my website up I was reluctant to have a CV page. What would I put on it? I was just a wannabe. But when I started to think back and write what I had done so far I was amazed how much space my list of exhibitions and publications took up. (And very grateful to Brenda Smith who had wisely recorded all the Twelve by Twelve activity for me!) It was a real confidence boost. Not that it made me feel I had ‘made it’ but rather that I was well established on the road and so the fear of being a rank beginner vanished. This year I have started a page in my planner where I record the weeks achievements, big and small. And, I record how I celebrated them which is often with a nice purchase. So when I look at my beautiful pen or sable paintbrush I am reminded of past achievements.
  8. Baby steps. Note, I said, small and medium achievements not just big ones. Confidence comes from constant exposure to accomplishment. Set small goals and build up your confidence quickly and then review and expand those goals rather than setting one difficult goal and never seeming to reach it.
  9. Notice when you feel confident and deconstruct the experience. Last night I made my first iMovie tutorial video. I had little idea what I was doing when I started ( mostly because I didnt bother reading all the help files on how the programme worked!) but when the video was finished I pressed the publish button with a confident flourish and an internal yell of “Yeah!”. Which is odd because I when it comes to videos I really am a rank beginner. Normally I’d feel worried that my video was not as good as others or that I had just sent out some embarrassingly mediocre product. When I thought about it I realised that my feelings of confidence were closely related to my last point:
  10. Be clear about your measures of success. I was entirely happy with my video because my (un-articulated) aim had actually been to figure out the basics of iMovie and put together a basic tutorial by a deadline related to a linked magazine article. I did that. Had I actually been aiming to make a video that would prize win at Cannes next year it would have been a different feeling all together. By all means, dream big for the future, but set today’s measure of success at realistic and achievable and confidence that you can do it will come much more easily. Then, remember how good it felt to succeed, how you achieved that feeling and repeat.

So, tell me, what do you want the confidence to do?

Did any of those tips resonate with you?Do you have any of your own to share?

 

How do you know you are real?

In my day job I sometimes spend a morning seeing children who have been in car accidents. It’s repetitive for me and both boring and slightly daunting for them. So, I amuse us both by explaining that they have been dragged out  of school so that I can check that they are real and their parents have not made them up to get lots of money. Then I ask them:

“How do I know you are real?”

Photo from Free Digital Images

Photo from Free Digital Images

Most of them shrug, go shy and start whispering to their parents for  help, which leaves me undisturbed to full in the paperwork. Some children are more vocal. I was particularly taken with the answer given recently by one kid who was sporting the Young Professor look: sticky up hair, lopsided purple glasses sliding down his nose and a dubious grasp of grammar.

“How do I know you are real?”

He shoved his specs up his freckled stub nose and began to earnestly explain as if I really did need to know the answer.

“Well, I just get up in the morning and I do something and that means I am being, so I just is real. I am being every day so I always is real.”

I think he hit on a point. How often have you said or thought: “If I was a real artist/writer/composer/insert activity of choice , then…”. Usually that sentence ends with a negative: “… then I wouldn’t make so much rubbish/wouldn’t get rejection letters/ wouldn’t screw up so much manuscript paper…” Even when it ends with positive, it’s usually about procrastination. “When I am a real artist I will send my work out to shows. When I am a real writer I will approach an agent.”

Thinking yourself unreal never helps. Especially when to be real all you need is to do.

An artist makes art. A writer puts down words. A composer strings notes together. That’s it.

There is no test of quality in being real. A child is not real because they are exceptionally good at something or because they have been a child for thirty years. They are real because they live and breath and do things that children do.

You get up in the morning and you do something and that makes you real. When you accept that simple truth, you open up to yourself all kinds of possibilities, because you then automatically start to behave like an artist. Gone are the days of hiding your work in a drawer. That’s not what a real artist does. So you screw up your courage ( no one said real artists don’t feel fear!) and put something on Etsy. Gone are the days of  considering good paint a selfish extravagance. Who ever heard of an artist without paint? You order a box of colour and experiment. And then, when you feel the doubt coming on again you have created your own proof. You must be a real artist because you have work for sale and half-squeezed tubes of paint all over the table!

Simply leaning the habit of saying “I am a real artist” holds power and magic. Try it today. And tomorrow and the day after, until its a habit.

By the way, that was not actually the best answer I got from a  child. That came from a precocious ten year old who when asked, “How do I know your Mum didn’t make you up to get lots of money?” looked mischievously at her and said,

“You don’t . She did. Did it work? Because if we have lots of money we can go to Disneyland.”

 

 

Databases for creative people

Late last night I started to  read Alyson B Stanfield’s book I’d Rather be in the Studio in which she mentions starting a database of work and contacts.

id rather be in the studio

This is something I have had on the to do someday list for some time so, newly inspired, I decided to research how best to achieve this. The SAQA Yahoo group was first port of call for recommendations and many other people said they were interested in how to keep a quilt database. so here, are my findings.

Disclaimer. This is not a full test of every programme out there. It is a good example of how a barrister’s mind works though… take on a ‘brief ( a problem) in the morning. go deep, deep, deep into the details until you have  the problem solved, call it a day, move on. repeat the next day.

I was looking for three criteria:

1. Reasonable cost ( preferably no more than £100-£120

2. Suitable for the needs of an artist and writer and something I would grow into over the years.

3. Usable across all my devices – iMac, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. I only use Windows at work where I also have the iPhone and iPad and should not be doing my art stuff anyway so I did not pay much attention to Windows, sorry.

Bento was the programme most mentioned that existing users loved but that is no longer available. It was made by the makers of Filemaker Pro, which , as it was used by Alyson Stanfield was the first one I looked at. It costs £286.00. Yikes! I do believe in buying good quality tools, an this does have functionality for iPad, so if I had had to pay that to get what I needed, I would have done but I was certainly encouraged to shop around. Not least because this programme apparently needs some setting up and whilst I like messing about with programmes its not the best use of my time.

I then found a number of specialist art programmes.

Flick! is an Australian programme that costs US$29.95 and looks from their  site to have a very clean and pleasing aesthetic.

flickscreenshot

However it is not available for mobile devices. The same problem afflicted E Artist (US$125 and Working Artist (US$139) which, worse, was not even available for Mac. It looked very much that mobiles and databases did not mix nicely. Having accepted ( with gritted teeth and a lot of grumbling) that I would have to forgo the mobile apps I was taken with GYST.  I was not taken with the full name which is Getting Your Sh*t Together, which whilst actually accurately describing the task I was trying to accomplish was not a name I really wanted to say when telling people what programme I used!

 

Picture_4

Image from www.artslant.com

That aside GYST offers two programmes a Basic and a full bells and whistles Pro version for £45.85 and £85.40 respectively. Now we are talking. The full version has artists inventories, mailing databases and other features including a bibliography which attracted me a lot. That allows you to save a PDF and text version of your articles in the database. Very handy. It also comes with over 200 web links and other information for artists on a whole manner of things from carting up art to writing your resume. The Basic version does not have the bibliography or the information resources and fewer bells. You can compare the two versions here .  I liked this programme was dedicated to artists and needed little setting up for that purpose. I did download the trial version of this one thinking it would be the one. however, I then found that much of the bells and whistles is in fact on the site for free.in their services tab or resources link. I recommend even if you don’t want a database you take a look at the resources section anyway. Its great! So that would have made me go back and compare with Flick! and probably choose between the two.

Except really, it bothered me that neither had mobile capacity. so I carried on hunting and came up with two possibilities. Both required me to lose the dedicated art related pre-formatting. The first is HanDBase  (what is with the irritating names of these things?) With this programme you can buy just for one platform or can buy apps for each of iPhone/iTouch, iPad and iMac (or indeed the windows/android equivalent) and then buy an add on with the iMac programme that allows you to synch the programmes. Yeah!! Thats synch manually over wifi rather than iCloud. Not so Yeah but yeah-ish I suppose. Cost was £6.99 for the mobile apps and  US$14.99 for the iMacand add on. If money is really tight you can just buy the iPhone app and use that on the iPad magnified so save buying two mobile apps. (No I don’t why it was in different currencies but it was!) Still. Good prices. The databases allow you to add in photos so whilst its not as pretty as Fick! it would do the practical job. and I do still like the look of it. It is owned by the people behind Palm Pilots so they know their mobile stuff. They do say that the Mac app is a ‘work in progress and will have extra features added in the future.’

The second one is TapForms when I was researching I found this app on a review which said that it had iCloud Synch. YEAH!! AT last. Oh but no desktop facility. Ah well. Non starter then. but then in the course of writing this review I went to the website itself to get you the link and found… its available for Mac! Oh listen to those angels sing in my studio! You can even integrate with Dropbox and add photos. I held my breath. what was the cost? iPad/Phone £6.99 iMac £20.99.  Big smile. wait, there must be a downside…

Umm, not quite so pretty maybe

tpaforms mac

iMac version

tapforms ios

Iphone version

and more importantly its not art orientated.

But it synchs with iCloud!!

So, I would say it depends what your priorities are.  If iCloud had not been a criteria I would probably have gone with Flick! or GYST without prevarication. But for me the mobile features were also important. so, as GYST offers a thirty day free demo I have downloaded that and also bought the iPad version of TapForms and began to play. Within five minutes I was able to tell GYST is vastly superior even without iCloud. Tapforms was clunky, its big icons and menus got in the way, it was ugly,  old fashioned, you could see hardly anything. It was in my view, ugh! GYST has so much functionality its not true. It was much clear how to add information right from the start and there is lots more to explore. It is a system that will last you growing into a real art business should you need that and probably would prompt you to record information you will need later but would not think to record by yourself. However, I want to play more but I also need to go and sit in the lounge with my husband and watch TV and I can’t take it with me as I could TapForms. Major downside.

I could buy a Macbook Air of course  :)

UPDATE: I also downloaded a free demo of Flick! Instantly you can see it is a simpler pared down programme. It lacks many of the features and available fields of information that the basic version of GYST has. That could actually be good if you want something very clear and straightforward but I think it is something easily outgrown. I showed my husband ( who cares not very much about this unless I pay the £289 price and he gets no dinner!) and even he with less than a minute on each one saw that GYST is the higher quality programme.

One issue I had with GYST though is that I wanted to be able to do a database for an exhibition I am helping to organise. I want to log the participants their quilts details, when it has all been sent back etc. In GYST you do not create databases, only records within them so you are stuck with one Artworks category for everything. At first I thought this was a real limitation but very quickly just from playing realised its not. What you can do is make an entry for the exhibition quilts as if they were your own and fill in the Loaned From box. You can make a category for the exhibition and then you search for the exhibition by category and you will only see those quilts.  Its the combination of customisable category lists and  the powerful search function that separates out the artworks database into as many lists as you like whilst allowing one entry to facilitate one quilt to appear in many lists.

GYST Pro also has a calendar and a planning (tasks) function so if you want all your art business together you can do that.

So,  less than 23 hours after I decided I needed a database I have found mine!

I will post some more on it when I have it set up with screen shots. ( And will email then asking when the iPad app is coming!)

What are you using? Do you have any recommendations or comments on the products I mentioned? Please leave a comment and help other readers if you have.

Three goal setting tips for optimists and multi-potentialites

 

January diary

I love the New Year period and the tradition of starting new projects and framing fresh goals. Its almost as good as New Pencil Case September.  Yet, sometimes I get bogged down in the sheer number of goals I want to set. I think this is a particular problem for two classes of people:

  • Optimists.  Who tend to wildly overestimate the available time  available and under estimate the time a goal will take
  • Multi-potentialites. This is a great term I learned last year from Emily Wapnick over at Puttylike.com.  According to wikipedia it means “An educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals. [Multipotentialites] generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavors or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices.”  Many interests naturally leads to many goals.

If you are an optimistic multi-potentialite, as I am, you are, basically sunk when it comes to the R  for Realistic part of SMART goal setting. Each goal may be specific , measurable, actionable, time bound and, individually, perfectly achievable but in combination with the other forty three on your list, maybe less realistic. Having struggled with that again this year, here are the three lessons I have learned:

1. Distinguish between habits and goals

A habit is a repeated action, something you do ritualistically. A goal is a destination, a result that is achieved in incremental stages over a period of time.  A habit – like say, practice yoga every day – is something that can be implemented immediately.  A goal  – gain a Yoga teachers certificate and open a studio for example – requires you to work towards it.

I am not saying do not instil new good habits. Of course not and indeed they can help you reach your goals. We are all better performers in whatever field if we have good eating and exercise habits for example.  However, it is possible to ‘over -goalise’ habits. For example, I started to say that I would do twenty minutes of yoga each morning with three longer classes a week , once at the gym, two on video. Then I realised that was not only unrealistically rigid it was actually  negating the objective I was trying to achieve. Yoga brings me great mental peace and relaxation as well as physical toning.  It is the linking of mind and body and the fact that yoga is non-competitive and responsive that makes it so special.  Setting targets and timetables actually went against that. What I need to do is to establish a pattern on sitting on my mat, of allowing myself time to indulge each day. My body and my available time will then tell me what is needed. Some days it will be a quick and energetic flow practice. Other days it will be an hour long relax-with-my -head-on-a-bolster session. To simply establish a habit of ‘doing yoga’ is both sufficient and necessary to meet the aim.

2. Count the cost.

Time is like money – it needs to be budgeted and can only be spent once. Work out with some realism how much time you have and how much time each goal will take to achieve. Time recording your activities can help you to learn over time how long things actually take to complete. Then, when you calculate that you need only fifty-nine hours a day you can start to decide which goals are the priority.  Count other costs too – you might be able  find the time to make art for five hours a night after work but at what cost to your family relationships? You may be able to train for a marathon but if you have arthritic knees at what cost to your long-term health?

Also, count the cost of NOT achieving a particular goal is a great way to prioritise between many exciting options. What are the stakes if you don’t do this? How does the thought of never doing that one thing  really make you feel deep down? Indifference or a slight twinge of regret means it can be ditched. if tats hard don’t ditch it, put it on a ‘maybe’ list for next year’s consideration. True sadness means it is a keeper. However, be careful with feelings of relief which require deeper analysis. Relief can mean that the goal was never really your own but one you felt obliged by other people to take on. Or, it can be a masking emotion which is hiding fear. Which brings me to…

3. Go towards the fear.

In a crowd of goals it is easy not to pay that much attention to the one that scares you to even think about. Yet, that’s probably the one with the highest stakes, the one that incorporates so many of your real deep down desires and dreams that the fear of failure makes you want to ignore it. That’s the one to prioritise.  I heard a great quote recently on a This American Life Podcast:

“Great things happen when people reach for things just out of their grasp.”

If something has to give let it be the goal that is more of the same, that is the safe one, that is the next natural step. Focus on the one that requires a leap, requires bravery, requires faith. For that is where the great things will happen.

 

Seven ways to make a molehill out of your mountain

You will have noticed that I have not blogged here for a long time. I meant to but a small change in work circumstances in around April last year pushed me off track. Once I adjusted to the change in my routine it should have been a simple matter of  starting again. The trouble was by then I was out of the habit and it was going to take an effort to restart. Not much effort. About as much as climbing a molehill. But I made the classic mistake of enlarging that molehill in my mind. The more I ignored it the larger it loomed until it was so big a mountain in front of me that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to get over it. I thought probably I’d rather turn my back on it and ignore it. Except then it cast a shadow in front of me and I could never get away from the fact that I was not blogging. In my mind it became a big Should Do Time Eater that I resented and resisted. I totally lost sight of why I had wanted do it in the first place,

I am sure you have had issues like that in your life before, whether it’s the box of junk that has sat irritating you on the floor of your bedroom for eighteen years or the job you hate and know you should change. As you can see, I managed to reduce my mountain back down and produce this post so I thought I would share how you too can turn your mountain into a molehill:

 

View from Lattrig, Lake District

View from Lattrig, Lake District

1. Look at your mountain.

Where you put your attention is where you will get results. Stop walking around your mountain with your eyes on the ground. Look up at it and decide to take it on. Stick your tongue out at it to show it who is boss if you like but whatever you do, simply decide to pay it some attention.

2. Map your mountain.

As kids my Dad would insist that holidays involved a ‘little walk’ up a mountain. I would trail behind, longing to be left at the bottom with a good book.  It was standing joke that we never got to the destination as easily as we were promised. There was always a false horizon, a bend obscuring the next ( usually long) section of the walk or a barbed wire fence necessitating a detour. If you have a metaphorical mountain in your life, map it before you start to conquer it. That way you will be able to take the most direct route to the summit. By ‘map it’ I mean, fully understand what your mountain really exists of.  Take a time to journal, in words or visuals, what it really is that is forming this huge block in your path. I bet it’s not the obvious. I was telling myself, ” It is because my commute is longer than last year. I don’t have time to blog. I don’t even really have time to think about why I don’t want to blog any more.”

It took me exactly thirty-five minutes of  sitting in a cafe with my journal on the way home from work today to realise that actually what was preventing me was (a) a belief that I had nothing to say that was of interest because I had started to tell myself I was a boring insignificant person living an unremarkable life  and (b) the fact that I hated the fact that the WordPress theme I used for P•C•S required a photo for each post in particular dimension for the slider and I had to remember to regularly maintain which posts were ‘sticky’.  It looked great, it was a pain the butt to use and it made what should be a simple blog post feel like a major software issue.

3.  Get a sherpa.

Mountaineering is a whole lot easier with someone carrying your load and who has walked the path before. Your sherpa may be a friend, a family member, an online article, a podcaster you see as a mentor, a book, or a formal life coach. anyone or anything that can give you a boost to dealing with your mountain as you mapped it. You may have a team of Sherpas handing off one to the other as you proceed along the way.

For me in starting to write this post there were three guides who had had good motivating input into my life in the preceding days. I’ll tell you more about them in later post but for now check out Brooke Castillos’s book Self Coaching 101 as recommended to me by Lisa Call and Michael Hyatt’s podcast and blog. The combination of their simple teaching  lifted a burden from me and enabled me to get going towards that mountain.

4. Plan a recce to base camp.

Note you are not going to base camp yet. Just identify the first steps you need to take to get over your mountain and the equipment it will take for you to do that. For me, I decided it was to change my WordPress theme and so I needed to find the Filofax that had all my log in details and go and sit at the computer and do that one thing. Then schedule a good time and enough time. But soon.

5. Go to base camp.

Do not even think about the mountain. Take a little easy stroll to base camp and do that first step. Remind yourself that’s all you need do. That is the one goal for today. My task today was to log into word press and swap my theme out to a new one. I allocated one hour straight after dinner. It is a law of physics that it takes more energy to start an immobile object moving than it does for that object to continue moving. so yes, this is the hard part. So make it a small hard part and it becomes totally doable.

6.. Do not go the long way around.

Trust me. Don’t be a hero and climb the rock face if there is a gentle winding path. I recently ditched my ailing windows laptop and bought an iMac. I bought it because I wanted one and thats good enough reason but I partly justified it by telling myself it would motivate me to blog if I had a Thing of Technological Beauty on my desk. Ha! It just took me twenty minutes of searching manuals and help forums to work out how to add the • in P•C•S. (Alt key plus 8 if anyone cares). probably unnecessary effort.  On the good news side, once I got on to WordPress I realised that I didn’t need to check out a gazzilion new themes to find a nice simple one. I needed only to check the box in my existing theme set up that disabled the photo slider function. It took six months of constructing my mountain and summoning the energy for an expedition to get to that point and six seconds or less to execute.

7. Enjoy the challenge.

On my drive home tonight I heard David Suchet on the radio saying that the reason the generation who were young in World War Two tend to think of the war years as the best years of their life is that for the people at home there was great unity of purpose and of those on the front they were being tested and people needed to be challenged to be happy. On the way up your mountain you may encounter a rock fall or other unexpected hurdle. I for example have currently no idea why WordPress in my iMac will not let me upload pictures as I used to do.  You can treat such rock falls as trip-ending disasters. Or you can enjoy the extra excitement of scrambling over or around them. (I figured out, by playing around and not letting the B*(&(%* computer beat me,  that if I save a photo to my desktop it will load from there.) Now I feel triumphant in the face of all adversity!

And that was when I truly believed my mountain was climbable after all, and why I stayed at my desk and started writing this. Really, blogging was only a mountain in my thoughts. In reality it was a titchy little check box  on a computer screen and a couple of trackpad swipes. A molehill.

What are you making a mountain in your life? will you take the steps today to turn it into a molehill?

 

Learning from: Margaret Thatcher

“What is success? I think it is a mixture if having a flair for the thing you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have a sense of hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”

Per Margaret Thatcher

I was nine when Margaret Thatcher became Primeminister. I was eleven when she led the country into the Falklands war. In otherwords, in my formative years, when I was beginning to learn that I would have a choice when I grew up about what I did, a woman was in charge. At that time and ever since it has never entered my head that a woman could not achieve whatever she wished to do career wise because all you had to do was look at Margaret. Whether you agree with her politics or not and whatever your view of the social and economic consequences of her time in power, I doubt anyone could disagree that she left a powerful legacy to women in the form of the example of her determination and success.
Thank you Margaret. RIP.

 

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