Session Eight: Pulling it all together
By now you are probably aware that motivation inspires goals and good goals inspire you to manage your time more efficiently.
You probably also realized that the more important, or necessary, the goal, the easier it is to motivate yourself to accomplish it. In the last two lessons, we talked specifically about time management. Though I taught that you must find your peak performance time and gave you a few tools for working the most efficient ways possible, you probably also noticed that inherent in those lessons was the truth that there are some things that don’t need scheduled, yet they always get done. Come hell or high water we generally accomplish our “necessary” goals like feeding our children, going to our day job, or getting everyone where they are supposed to be every day (Ms. Carpool).
Because it’s true. We will do the things we “must” do without hesitation, without question and generally without having to put them on a list.
But did you realize while we were walking through all these sessions that you could actually set a goal and artificially make it a must? Did you realize that you could turn almost any goal into something you do without hesitation, without question and generally without having to put it on a list…if you motivate yourself sufficiently?
You probably did, but just in case you didn’t let’s talk about the motivational technique I’ve found the most helpful in accomplishing my personal goals (things like regular exercise) and professional (writing) goals by shifting them from “wants” to “musts.”
It’s Tony Robbins’ Rocking Chair technique. (BTW, Tony/Anthony Robbins is the author of the runaway bestseller Awaken the Giant Within. His 30 Days to Personal Power tapes were phenomenal. He also does “change your life” type of seminars. He’s very smart and very successful and his techniques have helped me tremendously! I don’t merely want him to get credit for this technique. If you need some extra help organizing or figuring out your life, Tony Robbins work isn't just among the best. In a lot of ways, it is the best.
Okay, testimonial over, back to business…
I don’t want to use writing as the example of Tony Robbins’ Rocking Chair Technique because I don’t want to influence you. I want you to see the technique and then do it yourself so your answers to the questions are real and personal, and therefore, have the power they are supposed to have.
So, since I’m beginning the new year as a little ball of butter, who will not be able to wear her own clothes and will have to spend money buying new things from Omar the Tentmaker if I don’t slim down, I’m going to use eating healthy as the example. Because that’s one of the hardest goals in the Universe!
Mr. Robbins basically tells us that manufacturing motivation (turning a “want” into a “must have” or “necessity”) is easy. All we have to do is get ourselves to the place where we recognize how the results of our bad habit or lack of action will hurt us. Once we get ourselves to realistically see the results of our bad habit or lack of action, then we have to feel the pain that accompanies those results, so that when we leave that place, we will remember the pain and our behavior will change.
So, here’s me. In the prime of my life, with a full head of hair, no beer belly, nice legs and not too many wrinkles, no cough, no insomnia, and very little dementia, how do I get myself to feel the affects of my poor eating habits?
I sit in my rocking chair.
Tony Robbins tells you to sit down, close your eyes and imagine five years of time passing in fast forward, with you keeping your present eating habits. When five years pass, stop! Take a look at yourself. Are you heavier? (Hah!) Are you tired? (Hum….) Are you sloppy? (Ouch!) Is your husband going out without you to grocery shop because he has more energy? Worse, is he going to movies or the mall alone…Dear God!
That’s scary stuff. But don’t stop. Tack another five years onto where you are at the end of that five. Eyes closed, deep breath, continue to picture yourself as you did when you zipped five years into the future – kinda chubby and slow, maybe breathing a tad heavier, then fast forward again. Zip another five years into the future with no exercise and lots of fast food.
Then, stop! Suddenly, catch yourself off-guard as you really would be.
Are you fatter? (Do fish swim?) Is your breathing labored? Is your hair washed? Are your clothes ugly? (Probably) Is your room dark? (This is a good one. Most people realize that after year ten of the continuation of a bad habit their room is suddenly dark. As if your life is bleak!) Is your husband home…or is he out, again, without you?
Ouch. But don’t stop here. Get back in the chair. Eyes closed. Deep breath. Fast forward ten whole years this time. 20 years from today. Fast food, fast food, fast food, doughnuts, doughnuts, cappuccino. Stop!
How big are you now? How tired are you now? Where’s that darned husband of yours! Do you fight a lot? Do you spend lots of time alone…with your doughnuts? Probably. House dark? No question this time. You are alone, fat, tired, sitting in the dark and a failure. All because you couldn’t get yourself to eat a darned vegetable!
But don’t stop here. Reverse the clock. See it all backward. Take it all back. Reverse all those food decisions. Go back and back and back until it’s today again. Take a deep breath. You’re not 100 pounds overweight. You’re twenty. Would you like some fast food? I doubt it. Does walking on the treadmill seem like work or salvation? Probably salvation. Do you feel differently? Probably. Not because you don’t want to gain weight, but because you don’t want to be alone, sitting in the dark!
You have a second chance!
Plus, your choice is no longer the choice between a doughnut and a carrot. It’s the choice between a dark, dingy room in a barren life and happiness.
Hummm….Interesting. Really think that through. If you truly felt the pain of your bad habit, your entire mindset should be different. And you should be motivated to do whatever you can to NEVER to be the person you saw in your imaginings!
As I said, I used weight as the example and not writing for a very good reason. I didn’t want to impose my “notions” about writing on you. So now that you have the concept down, we’re going to repeat the exercise, but without me giving you examples or hints about how I would be feeling.
So, close your eyes and fast forward five years. In that five years, writing is not your priority. It’s a hobby. You work “when you can.” You write hit or miss, never committing, never thinking writing is your passion…Every time somebody invites you away from writing, you leave your desk. It takes longer and longer to get yourself motivated to write. Some days your work room stays dark. You don’t even turn on your computer. This goes on for five years…
Now Stop! Open your eyes…Where are you?
Get a clear picture of what your life would be like if you continue on as a writing hobbyist. Where will you be five years from now? Take your time and really be honest about where you will be if you treat writing hit or miss, if you treat your passion as if it’s a passing fancy. Really think it through. See the dust on your desk. See the half-finished manuscripts. See the unfulfilled promise…All right, so I am nebbing my nose in a tad here…
Now, close your eyes again and fast forward another five years. Do you even have a schedule? Do you miss entire weeks?
Now, fast forward that last ten years that takes you to year twenty… Do you even consider yourself a writer anymore? Or do you just remember when you “wanted to write a book”?
The real bottom line is …
Do you want to be the person you picture twenty years from now if you don’t discipline yourself to write more than “when you can”? Do you want to be the person you picture twenty years from now if you never commit to becoming the best writer you can be?
And the question with which I leave you. Success and failure are your choice. You may not have complete control, but you have a lot more than you think.
The next time you want to be lazy, the next time you blame an editor, an agent or your critique partners, when you know deep down inside the work submitted wasn’t your best effort…
The next time you decide to write for a line or publisher without reading that line or publisher…
The next time you think the rest of us are just lucky…
Think. Think about everything I’ve told you this month and then realize the choices are yours.
Keep the promises you make to yourself!