Choose one action that will lead to your goals.

Hello and welcome back!

We’re on Day 4 of the 7-Day Transform Your Body, Transform Your Mind Challenge. How exciting to be past halfway!

Hopefully you’re gaining some good insights so far, and that you’re starting this year more focused than ever!

For a recap, we have gone over the one question that has become our filter for processing the stuff that life throws our way: “What is my Outcome?” So, whether you’re trying to plan your day or your week or a new project, ask yourself that question. Then, follow it up with “Why?” Why is this important? Does this align with my core values? Is this the best way to spend my time?

Then, we went over creating a MAP (Massive Action Plan) rather than multiple to-do lists in order to feel in control. And yesterday, we talked about clarifying your priorities in order to create meaningful goals that are aligned with your highest values.

Today, we’re going to zoom out a little bit and talk about the importance of daily habits and choosing a new action that will lead you to your goals.

7-day-challenge-day-4

The Importance of Routines

I waited until Day 4 to talk about routines because most people are too overwhelmed to receive the importance of daily habits and routines from the start. They either dismiss it as being unimportant or they want to do it but doubt they can commit.

By starting with the end in mind though, and asking ourselves “What is the Outcome I want?” we are in a more receptive mindset to accept what we want in life and what we need to do to get there.

This is also the main reason we focus on our Why. Our Why determines our How. It also gives us the fuel to accomplish the tasks to get our Outcome.

The goal of creating routines is to set yourself up with consistent behaviors that will ultimately become a habit. Habit is basically a pattern of actions or behaviors that is so ingrained that it’s automatic. For the most part, you don’t have to think about brushing your teeth, or eating a meal.

It’s this autopilot mode that we’re going for.

How to Choose a New Action

In order to create a routine that will be meaningful to us, we must first review our current routine.

Examine how you start and end your typical day. Take just one day from the past week as an example, or a mash up of days.

How many activities actually link back to the priorities that you listed from yesterday? How much time is wasted on diversions or distractions? How often were you blindsided, and needed to put out urgent fires?

Just like yesterday, this isn’t about guilt. This is about taking a true measure of where we are at now to see what we need to do to get to our ideal day.

Speaking of your ideal dayscript out your ideal day or schedule. Some thought starters could be:

When do you wake up? What tasks or projects get done and when? When do you spend time with your family, friends, or significant others? When do you practice self-care? When do you fall asleep?

Now compare the two days.

If you’re feeling good about how they line up, then kudos! However, if they don’t align, see where the gaps are, and ask yourself what you need to do to bridge that gap. From there, you should be able to glean one new action that you can focus on.

For example, if you want to read 3 books a week, and know that you can read about 100 pages in 1 hour, you would need around 1-2 hours a day to reach that goal. From there, you can schedule in times to read. You could read during your morning coffee time. Or, grab audiobooks to listen to on your commute or while you’re doing house chores.

The key is being aware that a gap exists, and being able to see what actions are needed in order to make it happen. If you decide that this task fits your Why, schedule it into your day.

Creating a New Habit

Whatever you decide, choose one new action that will get you the most impact on your ideal day. Change doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact it’s best to build up incorporating newness into your life.

Think about it: all things are difficult at first before they become easy. You don’t become an expert immediately. So don’t set yourself up for defeat by taking on too much, making you feel like a failure.

Choose one new action to get you started, and then build more from there.

Create cues around your new action to make it easier to follow. Ideally, it should be around habits you already do naturally.

For example, if you automatically grab coffee in the morning, think about doing your new workout routine right after it. Or, maybe you could sleep in your workout clothes. If you write, you could make it a point to sit at your computer right after you grab your coffee.

Whatever your new action is, tie it together to a habit that’s already unconscious for you.

Celebrate the action itself. If your goal is to write a novel and you want to write 4 pages every morning, make sure you celebrate showing up even if you didn’t get your 4 pages. The action that you want to cultivate is showing up.

Whether you actually wrote anything, or exercised, or made any sort of progress is irrelevant at this point. You’re trying to create new actions for your brain to get used to. Action is more important than emotions at this stage. The more you show up, you are already creating that ideal life you dream of having.

Important Note About New Actions

For any new habit, I highly recommend you do it first thing in the morning. Ideally, within the first hour of your day.

Remember how we were talking about habits being automatic actions? New actions are something we need to consciously follow, and thus requires a little extra effort from us to follow. However, when we are tired and not feeling it, new or conscious actions are one of the first things we drop.

Our willpower is just like any muscle: it’ll tire with too many stressors or choices throughout the day. So, unless you have a strong cue that will lead into your new action (like always stopping by the gym after work), try to set up your new habit in the mornings.

Tomorrow we’ll get into more details about morning and evening routines, but for now, it’s your turn! Get cracking on identifying where your gaps are and choosing one new action to add to your day.

I hope you get a lot of insight from where you spend your time and how you structure your day, and that you’re one step closer to living your ideal day, every day.

Please share your insights in the comments below, or feel free to use the image to post on Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter with the hashtag #TransformIn2017.

Until tomorrow,

Xoxo

Liza

PS

I will be moving to a self-hosted site soon, and I don’t know if I will be able to move my blog subscribers with me. So, I’m collecting email addresses just in case. I’d love it if you would enter in your name and email address just to let me know that you’d like to move over with me. If not, that’s cool! 🙂

Thank you to the readers who have already responded–I appreciate you! ::hugs::

PPS

For those of you who wanted daily workout inspiration, here is the workout + smoothie for tomorrow’s 15-Minute Fix.

THURSDAY’S 15-MINUTE FIX

(Click HERE to get details and links to instructions/form tutorials!)

todays-workout-thursday

 

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SciFridays: The Green Float Concept

Seeing real life scientists and engineers work together to create collaborative projects as the Green Float Concept (and others–see THIS ARTICLE) makes me proud to be a science fiction writer (and, proud to be a big nerd, evidently).

To me, science fiction is more than just setting, like a post apocalyptic world or a spacecraft. Don’t get me wrong, those setting are still COOL, but it’s not the main reason why I love science fiction.

When I think “science fiction,” I think of Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert…those pioneers in the genre who used their writing to create new landscapes that evolved from current political/social climes or adventure stories that explored/explained the unknowable (at least in their day).

Science fiction is an ally to innovation and progress because it explores the “what ifs?” and lends itself to the “why not?” Why not create a rocket that can break free of Earth’s gravity and land on the moon? It sounds sort of like a beta test, right? I mean, alien conspiracies aside, I wonder how motivated we would have been to explore the moon if Jules Verne had not written From the Earth to the Moon.

It all brings to mind this Einstein quote: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” What an awesome gift to have, the ability to influence a whole generation with imagination and all the other possibilities (and power) inherent in creativity.

GChatting With Friends. Where the Magic Happens.

If you don’t have trusted writing friends to be a sounding board to your novel-in-progress, get some. Your muse(s) will thank you. Plus, you get to have random conversations like this:

 me: YES do it!

kill MC and make BFF go on a quest!

Melissa: lololol

“and she found a note – “In the event of my death, go on a mighty quest!””

“and lo, she quested. and it was good.”

These bits of brainstorming made possible by NaNoWriMo, Google chat, and crit partner of Awesome, Melissa Veres. (I look forward to my dedication page when your book is finished and published!) 😉

Writing is a Sanctioned Form of Insanity. Embrace It.

Writing is an exercise in insanity. Day after day, I bang away at the keyboard hoping for brilliance, and getting mostly word vomit.

But, I keep writing anyway.

Because…

…I know that I probably have to throw down ten words, sentences, scenes, to get to the one worth keeping.

…I know that after the vomit leaves my brain, I won’t be distracted by it (even if more vomit threatens to fill the void that the previous vomit left behind).

…I know that each word, sentence, scene added to the WIP gets me closer to a finished story.

And, I know that sometimes, if I’m very, very lucky, I will write a scene that surprises me, one that just makes sense, and opens to many more possibilities and choices for the character.

The moral of the story? Embrace the insanity of this process. The muses may be fickle and capricious. But they can’t resist a working artist. Especially an insanely focused one.

Image: By Feuillu

Creative Limitation

Cover of "Story: Substance, Structure, St...

Cover via Amazon

{So, I decided to start yet another series of posts for the best reasons of all: because this is my blog, and because I can. It’s simply titled, The Magic of Writing—that indefinable, ineffable relationship between the writer and the muse.}

Over the weekend, I glutted myself on books on story craft and architecture as part of my ROW 80 goals. The book that I just finished yesterday was Robert McKee’s Story. I’ve read through that book last year, but it didn’t really speak to me then as it did now. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that book was genius last year, but I hadn’t finished my first WIP yet, and so I didn’t grasp the full significance of the principles then as I did now.

My main A-HA moment came from the principle of Creative Limitation. I’d been floundering for a while in my WIP2, not really knowing where I should go, and I’ve simply discovered that I didn’t know WIP2’s world enough. And, since I didn’t know the world (which is the first step toward a well-told story), I didn’t have internal laws of probability that my characters would follow (read: no conflict, stakes, or reason to read the story).

That may seem like a little thing, but once I started sketching out my world, possibilities, decisions, events started floating up in my mind’s eye. McKee wrote: “Talent is like a muscle: without something to push against, it atrophies. So, we deliberately put rocks in our path, barriers that inspire. We discipline ourselves as to what to do, while we’re boundless as to how to do it.” (We were all teenagers once. The more rules set before us, the more creative we were at bending (but not quite breaking!) them.)

So, you see, creating a world with a set of rules has allowed me to create a list of possible scenes and events that may happen (FYI, list is still growing). Finding the boundaries didn’t kill my imagination, it awakened it. Sure, I like the idea that On The Spot Inspiration can take me through a story, but if I’m honest with myself, I realize that ideas taken from the top of my head are probably regurgitated stories of what I’d seen or read recently, and will come off as cliched or unoriginal.

Really delving into the world, and finding scenes from my brainstorms that are truest to my characters, to their world, and which have never been done quite in the same way, are the scenes that I want to write into my novel.

What has inspired your imagination lately?

A Picture’s Meaning

{So, I decided to start yet another series of posts for the best reasons of all: because this is my blog, and because I can. It’s simply titled, The Magic of Writing—that indefinable, ineffable relationship between the writer and the muse.}

A picture’s meaning can express ten thousand words.

So, thanks to Rebecca Enzor (and indirectly, Amber West), I became thoroughly addicted to Pinterest this weekend. I loved creating my pretty vision boards, hunting down beautiful images to “pin” to them. I’ve always wanted to create huge vision boards for my novels, and with Pinterest, I created one for each of my works in progress in a matter of hours.

The best part? Finding an image that resonated with a specific WIP so well, that new scenes and subplots emerged from seeing them. I also love that certain images captured a mood that I’ve tried to convey in the past, but couldn’t really grasp, and I’d end up losing that mood or forgetting what it was that I’d wanted to say. Now, I can just click on one of my boards, and relive the moment until I have the right words to express whatever scene I want to write.

(Sidenote: I love all my WIP boards, but the one that’s most precious to me is simply labeled “First,” with images that remind me of my first novel. It gives me hope that one day I’ll have the skill to execute WIP1.)

There are so many uses for Pinterest, and honestly, I have to be careful to remember that it’s a tool to support my writing, and shouldn’t take the place of my novel writing. (SO ADDICTIVE. Srsly.) But, I so enjoy being able to experience my works in progress in this way and keep my muses inspired to continue working (and by working, I mean playing ^_^).

Are you visual like me? Do you have other methods to keep your muses inspired?

(*If you want to see my vision board for my current work in progress, CLICK HERE.) 🙂

Share the Love (this time with a giveaway!)

Cover of "The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)&...

Cover of The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

I’ve read a lot of good books since my last Share the Love post. Let’s see, there’s…

  • The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa
  • Darkest Mercy, by Melissa Marr
  • The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

I’ve actually read more than these books, but I list these specifically to showcase the inordinate amount of fantasy that  I’ve been reading lately. I wonder if that was a conscious decision on my part or not. I know I picked up Eon and Eona specifically to inspire me about an aspect of WIP2. And, I also picked up Ender’s Game (which I know is science fiction, but has fantasy elements I enjoy) and Among the Hidden for that reason, too. I know that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, my muses are tinkering with a post-apocalyptic fantasy, and I wonder if they’re hungry for more fantasy?

Maybe it’s a combination of the available e-galleys and ARCs that came my way, coupled with my need to read meatier works? After all, the fantasy genre does lend itself to intricate world-building, and often uses sociopolitical power dynamics to add conflict and tension to the narrative.

For example, take, The Girl of Fire and Thorns (newly released September 20). The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)This book is full of political intrigue, magic, and adventure. Set in a world reminiscent of medieval Spain, the story centers around Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza (aka Elisa), Orovalle’s second-born princess. Though she is royal, her privileged status comes less from her royal lineage, and more from being a Godstone-bearer.

Once a century, God chooses a bearer during a baby’s naming ceremony by placing a Godstone (a living jewel) on the baby’s navel. The Bearer is destined to perform an Act of Service, and the mythos surrounding the Bearer sets in motion harrowing challenges that Elisa must overcome.

What appeals to me the most is the sheer amount of terrain that Elisa covers throughout the story. I loved the big-ness of this world. I loved experiencing the lush climates of Orovalle; the seaside of Joya d’Arena; and the desert mountains of the rebel stronghold. I loved the concept that all these various countries and people groups are on the precipice of war. But, what I love most? Carson weaves these settings and power plays brilliantly through the narrative, making the countries so unique they were almost characters in themselves. (Interested in reading the full review? You can read it HERE.)

Honestly, though, now that I think about it, this year’s obsession with fantasy probably started after reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. My initial Good Reads reaction to it was…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone“Holy. Crap.

This book was AMAZING!

I loved Every. Single. Word.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautiful example of what YA literature could be, and what I strive for in my own fiction. I wish books like these were available to me when I was a YA, but at least I can appreciate them and revel in them now!

Brava, Laini Taylor, for crafting such a remarkable story!”

…and, since this book is holy-crap-amazing, I wonder if I just wanted to keep experiencing that awe, thus glutting myself on more fantasies. Hmm.

(BY THE WAY, Daughter of Smoke and Bone will launch on Tuesday, September 27, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC of it back in June, thanks to my dear friend and crit partner, Kayla (which I talk about HERE) and I remember gushing about it to my friend, Carol, that she was awesome enough to give me a signed ARC (which I talk about HERE.))

I plan on putting up a full review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone next week, because, DUDE, you all need to read this book. For reals, yo.

 SO, have YOU read any good books lately??