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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This Week: July 1, 2016

BOOKISH FINDS:

I used to be a voracious reader. I’m talking like four books in one day kind of gluttony.

I was one of those people who would side-eye someone if heard them say, “I haven’t read a book in months/years.” Craziness. Seriously impossible. My ravenous brain monkeys were relentless; I couldn’t read fast enough to satisfy them.

I’d bring home piles of books from the library and read the entire pile in a week. Heck, sometimes I’d read an entire series in one day/night. (I’m looking at you, Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewls Trilogy. I started the series on a random weekday afternoon and finished it sometime around 7 or 8AM the next morning, napped for a bit, then went in for my closing shift at the Job. Totally worth it…one of my best reading marathons EVER!)

…but now…

I’d be lucky if I could finish a book in a week.*

I do have competing priorities for my time now like never before, which has made me pickier on which books to spend my time. And, I have decided to *Adult* and focus on getting enough of that Sleeping thing that so many people have told me was beneficial for my health.

(And, yes, OK, so my eyes don’t bother me as much, and perhaps my skin and overall immune system is a thousand times better…still…)

But, I ‘d gotten overwhelmed with how many books I’ve acquired and have a list of books I have been told I NEED TO READ, that I ended up doing what I’ve always done with things that intimidate me or make me anxious.

I avoided them. I either read something else entirely or ignore reading altogether.

Since reading makes me happy (my original blog title!), not-reading makes me not-happy. So, I’m embracing my first love, and making it a focus to read All The Books (and why I’m returning to this Reading and Writing blog format).

All that said, here are some titles that I was so excited to see available in my digital library (I promise next week I won’t ramble on and on so much before sharing 😉 ):

  • Lair of Dreams, Libba Bray (audiobook)
  • Shadowshaper, Daniel Older
  • Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
  • Truthwitch, Susan Dennard

I absolutely LOVED The Diviners, by Libba Bray, and had waited so long for the sequel that it fell of my radar! So, when I saw it available, I immediately snatched it up! I also loved the hype around Shadowshaper…anything Urban Fantasy intrigues me.

Some people can’t get into audiobooks, but as someone who commutes to the Job and values efficient use of time, audiobooks are an amazing way for me to get through my lovelist of books. (And, when my eye is irritated, which it often is, audiobooks are a great escape for me!)

Plus, there’s something about audiobooks that makes it easier for me to read books that were “too boring” to read as a physical book…I’ve found and finished so many amazing books this way!

For those who love audiobooks, SYNC is a free summer audio book program for teens 13+ that gives away two audiobook downloads a week (powered by the Overdrive App) from May 5-August 17. I really love this program, because I get to test out books I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up, or re-read a fun classic. (It was through this program that I’d read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys three or four years ago? Worth it!)

This week, SYNC is featuring Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle (easily one of my top ten fave books of all time) and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. (They have weekly themes, which I’m always delighted by!)

WRITERLY RECAP:

Most days, I’m staring at my WIPs wondering WHAT DO I WRITE NEXT, but today all I want to do is work on my NANOWIP (my clever code name for my WIP that I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2014). Maybe it’s because I watched a whole slew of comicbook movies recently. Or maybe I have a whole load of feels because I may not be able to do my annual summer trip to NYC. Or perhaps it’s the news that this year would be Stan Lee’s last year at NYC Comic Con.

At any rate, I’m really excited and motivated to revisit the rough draft and get a game plan started on it. It’s the only YA Contemporary that my brain elves have fashioned together that survived past the seedling idea stage to bloom into a full-blown story. Hopefully, other people will enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of a teen-aged Filipino girl who secretly works on her art projects while at science camp.

As for WIP 2, I have printed off the manuscript and am currently sifting through it. Oftentimes, I feel like I’m raking through a Maui beach with a back scratcher, but I’ve found so many typos and tense/POV shifts (still!) so, it’s a tedious-yet-necessary step. Considering it took several back-and-forths for my query to finally be typo-free, I was inspired to re-read my manuscript and I’m so glad I did!

Speaking of the query, I’ve sent off my latest, shiny query to Writer’s Digest’s Chuck Sambuchino for a workshop critique. I’ve already gotten positive responses from my writing buddies on this version, so I’m eager to hear his feedback! Then, in about three weeks, I go to my writing workshop! So excited!

My goal is to get the manuscript all cleaned up without these silly typo/spellos, so that it’s ready to send off into the world in August! (After re-reading it a million times, of course.)

Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to bribe myself enough to submit to Pitch Wars in August. We’ll see.

So tell me: anything new with you?

Happy Birthday Month, Blog!

My blogaversary is this Friday, May 4th (Otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Yes, I’m THAT nerdy). It’s been a really fun two years, and I have to admit that even though I haven’t been the most consistent blogger in the world, I’ve really enjoyed the side effect of blogging, namely, the accountability I have to make progress toward my goals (writing or otherwise).

I’ve enjoyed the blogging community, and have met a lot of lovely writers, readers, and delightful nerds (and in a few weeks, I will actually meet many of you in real life!) who have become some of my closest friends. Because I believe in sharing the love and “paying it forward,” I want to celebrate the month by hosting a little giveaway.

Usually, I would normally host a giveaway for a book or two, but since there are so. Many. Awesome. Books out this month, like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities or Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, I thought it would be better for you all to pick the book you want!

So, for my Blog Birthday, I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) e-giftcard! (Winner’s preference, of course!) All you have to do is be a subscriber/follower of this blog, and comment below, and you’ll be entered into the raffle!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations, Michele S!

 

Also, because I want you to know how much I appreciate you, any comment on any post this month, will count as extra entries!

So, tell me…Why do YOU blog? If you’re not a blogger, please feel free to share your goals for this year! If you’re a fellow writer, anything fun and shiny you’re working on?

The End. For Now.

I woke up mere hours since I passed out from reading feeling antsy. Like I needed to be doing something, like getting ready for work, or working on WIP2.

But then I remembered that today is my day off from the paythebillsjob, and I have reached The End of WIP2.

(Would that also explain why I woke up with Lady GaGa’s Edge of Glory blasting away in my mind??)

Though I’m feeling kind of like this…

…it’s a little short-lived because I know I still have a lot of work to do. But, I’ll think about that another day.

For now, I plan on reading my huge stack of books that I promised myself I would read once the draft was finished (and seriously was the ONLY thing that got me to push through and cobble together scenes last night, and bask in this gloriously sunny day.)

P.S.

For the curious, my to-read list for today includes:

  • Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi
  • Legend, by Marie Lu
  • Two chapters of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
  • and whatever my crit partners throw my way. *stares at Kayla*

This will be SUCH a fun day off!

PPS,

Fun times! Random.org has spoken, and I get to give away a copy of Wanderlove to none other than my #accountibilibuddy, Laura! I’m sure that extra Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy entry helped you out 😀

Speaking of #accountibilibuddies, thank you for all the #badgerbadger love on Twitter, and for letting me badger you! It helped me to focus on writing, for sure! And guess what?? I have LOTS of free time now to hurl these virtual bad boys at you, muahahaha!

SO, What’s been going on with YOU??

The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green

 Six-ish months ago, I went to a little John Green reading, where I first heard snippets of his yet-unpublished-new-book. Though Green read many clever lines that I loved and noted, I went to great lengths to scribble down this conversation in my notebook:

“Literally?” I asked.

“We are literally in the heart of Jesus,” he said. “I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literally in the heart of Jesus.”

“Someone should tell Jesus,” I said. “I mean, it’s gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart.”

“I would tell Him myself, but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won’t be able to hear me.”

(Sigh. I knew I would love this book. He had me at the mocking use of “literally.”)

Along with sharing the first chapter of his then-unpublished-and-yet-to-be-named book (my notes referred to it as “the story after Paper Towns“), Green also shared anecdotes that related to both his author-journey-so-far, and what he felt was his responsibility as a writer to produce stories that were both helpful and beautiful.

I didn’t understand all the implications of his talk until I read The Fault In Our Stars, that long ago unnamed book.

Green sought to add a story that was both beautiful and helpful into this world? I’d say he exceeded his expectations. (He certainly exceeded mine!) (Also, much of his author-journey-anecdote became clearer to me after reading this book, a lesson I’m taking to heart for my own journey.)

And, here I am, left in a sort of afterglow.

I always get a quiet hush whenever I read an amazing book. Being a part of a story’s world, being momentarily linked with the author of those words, deserves a sort of reverence. Like, we traveled on a pilgrimage together for a time, and shared a holy act of worship.

Or, maybe I’m just maudlin right now since the characters in The Fault In Our Stars loved and grieved the way I would (and have) loved and grieved, and that poignancy is still with me.

I can go on and on about The Fault In Our Stars, but I don’t want to give the wrong impression of this book with my muddy words. Instead, I’ll give you the opportunity to read this book for yourself, and we can revel in the beauty together. (If we haven’t met yet, “Hi! You totally need to read this book so we can be friends!”)

I will send a copy of The Fault In Our Stars via bn.com to one lovely reader of this blog.

[THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED–Congratulations, Christine Myers! Barnes and Noble is processing your order as I type this!]

This book simply needs to be read, and it would be my privilege to give a copy away. I think of it as adding beauty to someone else’s life.

By the way, if you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend reading it in the privacy of your own home. Unless, of course, you’re comfortable bawling your eyes out and wiping snot on your shirt sleeve* in public. Then, by all means, do what you want.

(*I plead the fifth that this was me in any way.)

Nerd Moment

I interrupt what would normally have been an insightful, nay, inspirational post to say this:

“Squeeeeee!!! It’s here, it’s here!!”

I am OF COURSE talking about John Green’s latest book, The Fault In Our Stars, newly released this past Tuesday. (I first mentioned how I looked forward to the book HERE, when I went to a John Green signing back in June, and he read an excerpt from it.)

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Aside from my own ridiculous need to finish this draft of WIP2 THIS MONTH, I now have another incentive to get me to write my pages! ^_^

Blog Titles and Other Thoughts

Dandelion clock

Random picture. We can pretend it means that time is ephemeral and fleeting, like dandelion fluff held aloft in the breeze. But really, I just thought it looked cool.

Do you ever wonder what meaning or story a blog title may have? Most titles I guess are straightforward, like “So and So Writes!” or “Books Books Books!” or “How To ___.” But, there are those other ones (you know what I mean, I’m sure) that are either titled or domain-named (can that be a verb?) kinda randomly. Or, am I the only one that wonders about these things? Like I’m reaching to find a story where none really exists.

At any rate, I started thinking about bloggery things, and inevitably, blog titles/names since I chatted with a group of lovely writer friends last night about blogs.*

Previously, my blog title was simply, “Reading Makes Me Happy.” (In fact, some wordpress correspondence still shows up that way, which kinda throws me.) Obviously, I love books, I love reading, so BAM! Easy title! (My focus quote was: “I read to find a ladder to heaven.” W. Strieber.)

Well, sometime last year I had an epiphany, and I won’t go into details about it here (feel free to click on that link, though :)), but I realized that my unacknowledged dreams of writing a book and being a published author was in fact attainable, and it was only seemingly unattainable because I made it so. I did nothing to get me toward writing a novel, so why was I surprised that “gasp! I didn’t have a written novel, and I never will, and this will never happen for me.” *wonk, wonk*

All I needed to do was break down my dream (published author) into a more manageable goal (write novels), and break down the action steps to get me to that goal (develop and hone my writing skills, find a feedback/support group, read a lot, etc). With a paythebills job (sometimes, two!), balancing my goals was sometimes tricky, but I never let the “I have no TIME!” be an excuse for me to fall back on. (I have the same 24-hours that Edison, Einstein, and all those guys had! Surely I can “find the time” to write a book!)

“Find solutions, not excuses” is a mantra I embrace, and I’m also someone who responds well to accountability exercises and goal setting. (It’s the Achiever in me.) I wanted to make the most of the time that I have been given, and not just impulsively do things in the moment. I wanted to really create value in the now that I have. Thus the title, “Redeeming the Time.” (Also, it sounds pretty.) 🙂

“Redeeming the time” reminds me to focus on the things that I do control, like working on the craft of novel writing, so that I can eventually see my dream realized. It also reminds me to simplify and let go of those things that distract me from my goals. Sometimes it’s tough, but I don’t count it as a sacrifice. At this point, I find I feel freer because I’m not owned by other time-wasters. I have more ownership and control of my time, and guard that time zealously.

With all that said, I really want to incorporate reading back into my writing schedule, and even though I’ve said that I don’t really do book reviews, I at least want to put a few in rotation. (I plan on posting a book review page soon). Now, the reviews won’t be as fancy or engaging as most out there, but like this blog, it’s mainly just to keep me accountable to reading all the beautiful stories that find themselves in my mailbox or inbox. If my love for a book inspires someone to go out and read it, well, I’ll look at it as a bonus!

Plus, it’s a shame to get ARCs or egalleys and not give at least a little pre-release blurb about the book. Heck, even sharing a “new to me” title would be delightful. Great stories are meant to be shared and loved. The writers who wrote those stories should know that their sweat, tears, and sleepless nights have created worlds for readers to live in.

For a little while, both the reader and writer share the same dreamspace, and that is an experience worth cultivating.

So Tell Me: Any story behind your blog title? Do you like or care when someone blogs (non-spoiler-y) book reviews?

*The other friends I chatted with were: