I decided not to make any New Year's resolutions for 2012. Resolutions are changes we make based on what hasn't worked. Why not focus on what has worked and create from there?
Clinical psychologist John Norcross agrees with this strategy in order to increase the odds for success. For example, if you want to double your first quarter sales compared to last year's first quarter, don't focus on the sales you didn't make. Instead, focus on the sales you did make and why you made them. From there, create action steps based on realistic, attainable goals.
After a year of blogging about passion and leading with one's heart, I realized it was time for me to take my own advice to the next level! I took stock of my life and realized I wasn't close enough to living my own dream. It was time to reinvent my life.
I want to share some of the steps that got me started.
Get Clear on Your Passions
I took a good hard look at what made me happy. I wrote a list of everything I was doing in my career and in my personal life. I wanted to see how I was actually spending my time. This was an enlightening process. I recognized I was living my life more from duty and obligation than from my heart. I was putting too much of my time and energy in the hands of people, places and things that I wasn't really interested in or passionate about. It was time for a change.
Tell Yourself the Truth
If I was going to be honest with myself, I had to face a difficult truth: I had always wanted to be a writer, but was too afraid to admit it. Also, I had no idea how or even if, I could make a living as a writer. Even though this thought frightened me, it was time to tell the truth. I began by telling myself and anyone that would listen: "I'm a writer."
Focus on the Vision
Even as I said it out loud, fear lurked in the back of my mind: "How am I going to make a living as a writer?" I thought about all the unpublished books out there, all the starving poets, all the disappointed songwriters and wondered how I'd be successful. "Snap out of it!" I told myself. "You'll never give yourself a chance if you worry about that now." I had to let go of how it would all work out and create my ideal vision first. If what we focus on is what will grow, what did I want to plant? Success of course.
Create a Realistic Plan
I wasn't ready to completely give up all my responsibilities. I'm not 25 anymore, I'm married and we own a home with two adorable cats! I couldn't skip town. I needed to continue to earn a living and stay somewhat balanced (if that's even possible) before I could eventually be writing full time. I knew that success sometimes goes hand in hand with obsession, but I needed to create a more relaxed plan that would work for me. With the holidays fast approaching, I decided to take a six-week writing sabbatical.
Get the Support You Need
I couldn't do this alone. I needed the support of my husband and family before I could immerse myself with a clear conscience into the experience of writing full time. I wanted to meet other like-minded souls. Although I've been part of a writing collective through a class, we were on winter break. I wanted more immediate contact with other writers, so I joined more writers' groups, went to workshops, and even started my own Meet-Up group for writers.
Find Out What Works
I experimented. I wrote in coffee shops, at the beach, at cafes, in my living room, in my kitchen and even spent some time writing in my office. I went to Santa Barbara alone and just wrote for five days. I let my process unfold and discovered what worked for me. The more I let go of how it would all come together, the more creative I became. I even developed a "Write For Your Life" workshop.
Be Patient and Believe.
My sabbatical is over, but I've crafted a strategy to support my intention. I realize now that I may be living proof of the old adage, "Do what you love and the money will follow," as evidenced by the fact that my own workshops are starting to take off.
I'm not expecting to become a full-time author over night. But I do have a strong belief that I will complete my first novel sooner, rather than later as long as I continue to line up everything in my life to support my goal. Reinvention is much more gentle than resolution, don't you think?
For more by Carolyn Ziel, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.