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Change Your Angle To Crush Your Rut

We’ve all been there. No ideas, no motivation, no energy, no self discipline, or all of the above.

I was there yesterday.

I know exactly what triggered it too. It was the break in my Sunday routine. Normally after my wife and I take my daughters to their swim lessons, we get the grocery shopping out of the way, then I head to the gym for my measurement workout (more on that for another post), I come home have a delicious peanut butter chocolate protein shake then enjoy the rest of the the day with my family.

Instead, after swim lessons, my wife took our youngest shopping with her and I took our oldest to see the highly educational Angry Birds movie.

Coincidentally, I’ve been doing a great job avoid sweets, until of course my little one and I were sitting watching a movie.

Enter some chocolate grossness, buttered popcorn, and diet soda.

Now the experience with my daughter was completely valuable so I wouldn’t change this, but I allowed this special treat to throw off the rest of my day.

When I got home I was of course incredibly nauseous and completely lacking in my motivation to exercise.

I skipped it for the day because I felt awful and tired as a result of binge.

In turn, I felt discouraged that I allowed a change in my routine to cripple my productivity for the day.

Needless to say it wasn’t a “good” day for me in terms of making most of it.

What did I learn from this?

A couple of things.

1. A change in a routine is okay but should be strategically done.

2. When you’re in a rut you need to change your angle.

Let me clarify the second item.

I felt mad at myself all day for implementing a sequence of actions that resulted in laziness and feeling lousy.

Until I came across a great lesson from the movie Big Hero 6. Yes another animated movie with my daughters, don’t judge me.

The protagonist was stumped for ideas and needed to come up with something quick. As he was verbally punishing himself for being a failure who couldn’t come up with anything his older brother picked him up, hung up over his shoulders so that he was upside down. The brother asserted that when you get stuck you need to change your angle.

In other words, change the way you’re looking at things.

This moral felt like a slap in the face waking me from my woe is me ways for the day.

I realized that I needed to change my angle.

I had been writing the day off as a waste before the day was over.

Why?

I still had a few hours left before I went to bed.

What did I do?

Maxed out on push ups, put my head phones on and tidied my house. Yes my wife and daughters thought I was a little weird, but I realized I needed to change my angle.

To do this I took a quick dose of productivity and energy.

This shook me out of my funk.

As a result after quickly tidying and feeling a quick pump from push ups, I sat down with my family again and started listing on blog post ideas via Evernote on my phone.

27 potential topics.

One of which I’m writing about right now.

Did I waste yesterday? A little bit.

Did I get to enjoy a fun little date with my daughter? Yes.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Did I allow it to ruin my day? Thanks to Big Hero 6, no.

I ended the evening with my goals set for the upcoming week and 27 topics to write about.

This momentum carried over into today.

As I write this, I’ve already worked out and I haven’t yet began my work day. Yesterday built momentum and motivation for today. There is nothing wasteful about that.

Next time you’re in a rut or funk or whatever you want to call it.

Do something to shock your system and change your angle.

It can change the trajectory and help you produce some great things.

 

 

 

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5 Reasons To Love Writing

I was sitting back relaxing, leaving myself open to inspiration. Sitting on my deck, enjoying the sun on my face, with the RHCP Pandora station pumping at the ideal comfortable volume.

In this moment I was intentionally thinking about my experiences with no particular goal in mind.

This is part of my process. I don’t go out of my way to come up with ideas for writing, I simply allow myself to be open to anything then I capture anything with potential potential (not a typo) via Evernote on my phone.

When I sit down to write, assuming I’m not coincidently inspired (because my schedule and creativity don’t always work hand in hand) I have a database of ideas to choose from.

On this particular day I felt an abundance of ideas. Idea after idea to the point where I couldn’t keep up.

When I had exhausted this surge of inspiration I felt good.

Nay, I felt great.

I was excited to write.

I couldn’t help but think about why I love writing.

Now I know that there are a ridiculous amount of reasons why writing is painful and horrible which actually is a reason to love it (see the second reason below).

Many of those reasons serve as topics for this blog because I attempt to find solutions or at least strategies to combat these pain points.

Then I write about them.

This time around lets discuss why writing is awesome.

Prompts reflection. As a person who writes consistently I often find myself needing to delve deeper into a topic. If I didn’t, I’d be out of ideas in a week. This puts me in a position where I have to answer questions such as:

“Why is this important?”

“How can I solve this problem?”

“How can I teach somebody to solve this problem?”

“Am I being effective? How do I know?”

Asking yourself these questions or questions similar to these prompts a genuine level of reflection. Moreover, consistent writing requires consistent and honest responses to such questions.

Writers live and die by their grit and persistence. Writing is without a doubt an art form. I need to make that clear before I explain this reason further because it may sound as though I’m ignoring the creativity and skills needed to be a great writer.

Alternatively, one factor that should be appreciated (but is most often hated) is the grit required to complete a manuscript or to regularly update your blog. The reason this needs to be appreciated is because it levels the playing field.

In other words, I believe there are tons of potential Hemingway authors out there, but what separated him from all the aspiring authors who didn’t make it happen was the fact that in addition to his genius he forced himself to write.

He used practical strategies to maintain his writing momentum. He found his strategy that enabled him to write consistently.

I appreciate this because unlike Hemingway I’m not a genius. I’m very average writer, however, I’m successful because I write consistently. I write on the days that I want to write but I also write on the days that I don’t feel like writing.

Are there better writers than me? Yes, but there could be way more if following through with a book idea wasn’t a challenge.

I’m grateful for this advantage.

Creates opportunities to meet other writers within a wide range of topics. When I first began writing it was just me in front of computer day in day out. It was lonely. Once my work started reaching readers (and believe me my audience still has plenty of growth needed) people started reaching out to me.

I’ve been interviewed multiple times via varied formats. I’ve joined writing groups and met some amazing, inspirational authors.

The reality is if you write on a regular basis you put yourself in an exclusive group because so many people don’t. Combine this with the magic of social media and you’re connecting with others all the time.

Requires very little tools. As stated above when I first began writing it was just me in front of a computer. This is still the case. All I need to write is a computer. If I didn’t have one I could supplement with a pen and paper. I don’t need a ton of money. I don’t need a fancy suit. I just need my computer.

Add an Internet connection and I can share it with the world.

Think about how amazing that is. A writer can create something with one device that has the potential to change the world. Think about your favorite book. I’m referring to one of those books that had the power to change your perspective forever.

Some person did that using only his or her words.

Amazing.

Freaking amazing.

There is a rush when you see the impact it can have (big or small). I get emails and I get reviews. Not a ton but some. When one of my books gets a new review I can’t help but smile even if it is a negative review.

That is right, I now smile at negative reviews.

Why?

Because somebody was moved enough by my words to put pen to paper. Somebody cared enough to comment about my book.

When it is a positive review I literally feel a wave of emotion pass through my body (no tears though because I’m tough). The fact that somebody enjoyed my words so much to the point where they want to share what they liked and why they liked it consistently bewilders me.

When a person emails me asking me for help. I’m immediately complemented and proud of the thought that somebody read my words and thought, this person can help me.

There are better feelings, but not many.

So the next time you find yourself drowning in the abyss of the lonely writer’s lifestyle. Just remember, writing is powerful for the readers and the writers.

Let’s enjoy it.

 

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Taking An Experimental Approach

To my fellow authorpreneurs, I don’t know about you but for the first three quarters of my life I always knew there was an entrepreneurial spirit inside of me but I didn’t know how to channel it in a way that produced results.

Moreover, I didn’t know how to visualize a desired end result and therefore didn’t know how to create goals and action steps to help me get there. What good is a car if you have no idea where you’re going or how to drive?

For years I would make short lived attempts at creating an income stream. Service companies, drop shipping, selling information (before that actually became realistic and before I had any information to offer), you name it, I tried it.

The obstacle I consistently could not overcome, however, was when I built up a business and nothing would happened. I had the service or product but no customers.

Immediately in my mind I would cope by saying “I’m just not cut out to have my own business, some people are and some people aren’t and I’m not one of them.”

Think about what I’m saying for a minute.

I would start a business, then tear myself apart because I didn’t have any customers.

Now we can head in two different directions from this point. We can talk about how all I needed to do was learn about marketing and lead generation or we can talk about where my brain went when I encountered less than ideal results.

I’m going to focus on the mental side of things because I think there is a greater lesson to be learned taking this route (not that there isn’t in the previous).

Let’s review the sequence of events.

1. I thought of a business idea.

2. I created a business accordingly.

3. I mentally abused myself upon “failure”

4. I quit that business until my entrepreneurial spirit forced me to try again.

But why? Steps one and two are actually pretty cool and something to be proud of. Why did I quit so soon?

After reflection and thought I came up with the fact that I made it personal. I immediately associated the failure with my being. The reality is I just needed to learn a little bit more and/or try a couple of things out.

What finally helped me get through this was taking an “experimental approach”.

I started to view everything I did as an experiment that was completely external from me.

I’d start a business, assess the results, then determine whether or not I liked the results (notice that I’m not making it about me).

If I didn’t like the results I’d identify what I didn’t like about them. When I started my Amazon business, I started selling units like crazy only to learn that my marketing costs were eating all of my profits. I didn’t penalize myself. I simply calculated the profit I would like to make based on the sales volume I had seen, then set a marketing budget accordingly.

The results, my profit margin widened and my sales decreased to a depressingly low amount.

No big deal. I’ll just have to try another experiment in the form of a question.

What if I increase my unit price by $2.00 and increase my marketing budget accordingly. All of a sudden I started to see a slight volume increase while my margins remained consistent.

This is progress.

From this example and many more I learned that small, thoughtful tweaks and adjustments followed by assessing the results eliminated my mental agony.

I began viewing everything as an experiment.

If I didn’t like the results, I would tweak the actions and review.

To this day this is my mentality with everything, business related or not.

In my previous article I spoke about auditing my writing process. When I start to produce less than ideal results, I take an audit of my process. I do the same with daily routines that I’ve implemented and everything else.

Moral of the story:

Stop punishing yourself when you don’t succeed in the way you had hoped. Instead start creating with an experimental perspective knowing that you have your hypothesis but you could be wrong.

Accordingly, you can adjust.

 

 

 

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Is Your Morning Routine Helping Your Writing?

Maybe the title of this blog is a bit presumptuous. I should first be asking, do you have a morning routine?

If your answer is no I must respond with a dumbfounded look on my face followed by another look that tries to pull back on the judgement because I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings. Regardless, my word choice would be somewhere along the lines of “Why not!!!???” Or “Hmmm…so you’re happy with your level of productivity?”

The reason I wonder whether or not you have a morning routine is because it can become such an asset if you choose to use it to your advantage.

Some people might think that they have to wake up so early already that they couldn’t possibly add anything into their routine other than getting ready for work.

My response to that is a simple request to keep an open mind.

As I write this I have a full time job, a pregnant wife, a 4 year old and a 2 year old daughter. To make it to work early and still (along with my wife) get my kids ready, my wife wakes up at 5AM and I have to be showering no later than 5:30AM.

For a long time I simply laid in bed and enjoyed the extra 30 minutes after my wife got out of bed to shower.

Eventually I realized that I wasn’t sticking to my writing schedule because I was too tired by the time I got home from work and spent time with my family and exercised.

Therefore, as much as I loved the 30 minute post sleep cat nap, I accepted that it had to go. Not a fun choice, but a neccessary sacrifice to achieve better results.

Since reaching this conclusion I’ve adjusted my morning routine and the results have been great.

Currently, I set my alarm for 4:38AM. I hit snooze once which brings me to 4:47AM. I get out of bed and get into my gym clothes which are laid out the night before. I go the bathroom and brush my teeth and head to the gym at 4:55AM. It takes me approximately five minutes to get to the gym (which is extremely convenient) and it opens at 5AM.

I give myself 25 minutes to exercise so I focus on full body exercises that maximize the value within the short amount of time that I allot.

I’m back home at approximately 5:30AM which is when I showered anyways.

Additionally, after I finish my daily tasks for work instead of going home I write for 30 minutes. I don’t stress over output, I just write for 30 minutes and when my phone alarm goes off, I’m done. Whether I wrote 5 words or 500 words, I’m done.

I arrive home feeling super productive and energized to play with my kids and enjoy the evening with them and my wife.

When they go to bed, if I’m not exhausted I write for a little more but I keep the perspective that it is “bonus writing”.

I put zero pressure to force this bonus writing.

I find that I’m usually looking forward to finishing what I started earlier in the day, but if I’m behind on Game of Thrones I give myself the freedom to watch an episode before going to bed instead.

A couple points I’d like to make before closing:

1. It is important to follow a strict routine but also to allot opportunities to relax without feeling guilty.

2. Embrace that with any routine, you will be required to adjust to something that throws it off. Don’t stress, just get back to it the next day.

3. Give yourself time every now and again to reflect on the routines you have in place. Have new variables in your life created opportunities to increase productivity? Are you in a routine rut? Should you change it up just to keep yourself sane?

Consider these points and questions as you assess your routines and remember don’t listen to me, don’t listen to anybody, before you listen to yourself. You are the most qualified to determine what works for you.

Adjust as YOU see fit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Audit Your Writing Process

For the over a year now I’ve been following the same scheduling process for my writing.

Put simply when I’m writing a book or writing an article each Sunday night I reference my monthly goals (i.e. Complete 20K words towards book, complete 6 blog posts, etc.) and I create weekly goals.

My weekly goals, will include 3000 to 6000 words depending on my schedule and an article or two. This has always worked well for me and more importantly I’ve been able to stick to it.

Which by the way should not be underestimated. If you can stick to 1000 words per week compared to an inconsistent 2000 words per week you’re better off focusing on the thousand.

The problem is that I love creating content despite my lack of time. I’ve always felt the need to write more, create more.

I’ve convinced myself to stay patient and just continue to chip away. Though I’ll continue to take that approach it doesn’t hurt to also focus on taking some time to audit your process.

A few weeks ago I decided to change things up so I could begin creating more courses to help aspiring writers. This means that I have to write a post per week, write towards my current book, and create content.

This is a ridiculous amount of work if done inefficiently.

To address I took some time to strategize. To audit my writing process.

Here is what I came up with.

From this point on I’m going to continue to use my goal setting process but I’m going to develop a system where I can create one form of content then outsource the remaining forms based on my creating.

More specifically, I’m going to create presentations (Keynote) that includes important bullet points. Then I’m going to record the audio of myself talking about the concepts covered in those slides.

With that content I’m going to do two things:

1.) Send the slides and the audio to a video editor to put it all together into one video.

2.) Send the slides and the audio to one of my editors who will then transcribe my words, edit them into a blog post and a section of a book.

After a month I should have course, tons of content of the site, and a book that all go hand in hand.

I’m creating one thing and utilizing others to repurpose this content. You might be thinking that it sounds expensive.

It is more affordable then you think.

I found a guy from Romania via upwork.com who will complete my simple edits at $6 per video (roughly 7 to 8 slides over 8 minutes of audio). Nothing fancy but valuable, helpful content.

I have a great editor who I have worked with multiple times and because of the regular work I provide I essentially will be able to get all of this done for $.01 per word of the longest form of content. In other words, if the blog post is longer than the relative section of the book then we will use the blog post.

The key is to acknowledge that I have no idea if this will work out. In fact, it most likely won’t.

But I’m going to try it, keep an open mind, and make adjustments as needed.

When was the last time you audited your writing process?