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sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated Effort

Focus – The Power of Concentrated Effort

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated EffortSometimes I just want to get stuff done. Like those edits that have been lingering for far too long or that book I just want to get finished. So I get my head down and don’t lift it till the task is complete.

I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to, but it does require that I give it my all,* in effort and focus for a certain period of time.

*meaning it occupies the bulk of my thinking and gets the lions share of my time.

When you focus on what you want, everything else falls away.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in having great habits in place and chipping away everyday to make that goal happen.

Sometimes I need push

But, sometimes things get under my skin and drive me crazy, and, I feel like I don’t have the energetic effort required or the moxie to keep chipping away at it. In fact the chipping away is robbing me of joy everyday because the task at hand seems insurmountable. Like I’m going to be working on it FOREVER! That I’m NEVER going to finish.

I know from experience that if I let this feeling of hopelessness continue for too long, then I might end up loosing the project that I had so much passion for in the beginning.

When I get to this place, when I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall, and getting nowhere fast, I do the one thing that always seems to work for me …

I attack!

When I reach threshold I tell myself: I’m not dinging around with this anymore. It’s time to get it done.

Then I dive in.

Doesn’t matter what it is. As long as it’s something I absolutely want to achieve. And, it’s a must. And, it’s important.

But, if I’m not making progress, and I don’t see an end in sight…

Then I take the project and make it the number one priority in my life till it’s done.

I shoot it straight to the top of my list.

I make room for it in my life, I set a timeline, and I make a plan…

You can get a lot done when you decide you’re finished playing around.

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated EffortThe important thing is to take your goal, break it up into manageable chunks, and schedule them in everyday. Then work like a dog till you complete your project. You may enjoy the process or you may not, it’s irrelevant. As long as you’re still connected to your initial vision you had for the project and your still committed, then you walk through fire till you get it done.

Now that imagery may seem a bit strong, but honestly sometimes you just have to commit all the way and do the work. Especially on long projects like writing a book, it’s a lot of work that has you invested for months to years.

What if a project has stalled out?

If a project has stalled out then maybe it’s time to get reconnected to that initial vision you once had:

  • What made you excited about it in the first place?
  • When you complete it what doors does it open up for you?
  • How will you feel when you know you didn’t take the easy path?
  • Just imagine how good you’ll feel with the end in sight, and when you finally cross that finish line!

So set a hard dead for yourself and get it done.

So why am I writing this blog post?

Focus - The Power of Concentrated EffortBecause, I set this task for myself this past Monday to complete all edits on my current manuscript, and to get it out the door to my editor by the end of the month. I have been working my butt of this week. My body hurts. I have assigned household tasks to other members of the family. Pizza has featured largely in this week’s dinner menu. But it doesn’t matter, I’m committed and determined that I will reach that finish line even if it kills me.

Yes, maybe a little extreme but it means I get the thing I want to get done–done!

“You can move mountains when you set your heart and mind to it!”

I take the week, stop all the tasks that are not a priority, like cleaning the house, watching movies, going out to dinner. I pull the plug on all of it, get my head down, and work my butt off till the task’s complete. It’s surprising how much you can get done when you decide too!

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Have you ever used concentrated effort to get a task done and been surprised by the results? Or, do you fail miserably in this department and seem to never complete your project, loosing hope with the lack of forward momentum? What measures have you gone to, to complete a task?

sk lamont Focus The Power of Concentrated Effort

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever just went for it?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or Foe

Fear – A Writer’s Friend or Foe?

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or FoeFear seems to be one of those emotions that we writers have to deal with a lot, or anyone else for that matter. It seems to chase us down anytime we try to step outside of our nice comfortable comfort zone. But I’ve always thought that a comfort zone can one of the most uncomfortable places we can be. When it comes down to it, when we are alone, or the TV is switched off, or there is zero distraction in our life and we sit quietly listening to that inner voice—it whispers something profound to us…

You are more than this, you can do more than this, you have something special to offer

…and it’s a terrifying thought. Because then, we have to look that monster, Fear, in the eye. That somehow we would have to conquer it—we would have to face our fear! And that thought is often too much to bare, it’s easier to hit the button on the remote and slip back into our coma.

Is fear the enemy?

I know this is a strange question and I think most people would say, yes, fear is definitely the enemy. It is the menace that stalks the writer and squeezes out all hope of ever being published. It is the killer of inspiration that crushes the life out of our creative endeavors, and instead leaves us playing small.

Or is it?

Maybe it is right now, but can that negative force be put to good use in the writer’s life?

I have always been a very fearful person. For as long as I can remember fear has stalked my every hope and dream. It has been around the corner, lying in wait, every time I thought I could try something new. Or it has tried to kill the life out of every new connection and communication.

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or FoeWho knows where my fear came from; fear of not being loved, fear of not being good enough, fear of falling flat on my face. I could go on.

One thing I do know is it has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember. It has traveled with me everywhere I have gone, and in everything I have done.

I spent the majority of my younger life trying to shake it loose; trying to run away from it, overcome it, conquer it, or destroy it. I pinned a badge on My Pinterest Page years ago that says Punch Fear in Face.

But I then realized I was going about it all the wrong way. I was always looking at fear as a problem, a curse, and as something that I had to get away from. Then one day I realized I couldn’t. That fear was my constant traveling companion, it had always been there and always would be, and there was nowhere to hide.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

I read a book back in the 90’s called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, it stayed with me long after I read it, particularly the 5 tenets about fear. I wrote them on cards and stuck them to my wall, to try and get the principles through my thick skull:

  • The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!
  • The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and…do it!
  • The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and…do it!
  • Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!
  • Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!

But it still took me another ten years, at least, to get it! I was still fighting, still battling, and still trying to punch fear in the face.

My Friend Fear

Then one day I had an epiphany, fear wasn’t the beast I was trying to make it out to be, it was actually my friend.

I know, shocker. All it was trying to do was keep me safe from the big bad world. Like an over-concerned mother trying to stop her child from swinging too high on the big swing at the playground—never mind that the child gets to experience the exhilaration of flying! It’s better to just be on the ground, to be safe, to be secure, and let’s not let any of that bad stuff happen to you.

Fear - A Writer's Friend or Foe?The problem is bad stuff still happens. Not only in the playground, but crossing the street, or driving in the car. At any moment something bad can happen and it puts the brakes on this whole thing we call living, either temporary or permanently.

So I got to ask myself the question: Do I want to die in the back seat of my car riding to play park strapped into my nice safe seat? Or, did I want get up on the freaking swing and fly as high as I could? —with death being a mild consequence of living and taking that wild ride.

Fears just fear, it’s never going away, I told myself. So I decided to treat it as an awesome friend whom I would listen to very closely and consult on all my endeavors. Anytime I’m about to step out into new territory I listen carefully to that inner voice of fear. My close consultant.

The voice of fear that sounds something like this:

You shouldn’t do that thing: no one will like you.


You shouldn’t do that thing: your going to look like an idiot.


You shouldn’t do that thing: who the hell do you think you are.

I listen very carefully and then I do the exact opposite of what fear tells me to do. See if fear is just trying to protect me, then I know longer see it as a menace.  I now see it as a compass and I use it to guide me to where all the growth is at, where all the fun is at, and where all the best swings in the playground are.

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or FoeI’m still scared. I might fall flat on my face, but it doesn’t matter. I have to just pick myself up and look for the next big swing. Sometimes, I may take a little time to lick my wounds, but I don’t stay there, I have to get up and look for that next swing—the one that scares me the most—after all what else is there?

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I can either choose to live full out or shrink back and hide in the corner.

I get to choose.

 

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think! Do you see fear as a friend or foe? How has it stopped you in the past? What will you do now to change things? What tips and strategies do you have to motivate you to step out and take risks? What do you tell yourself when fear tries to cripple you?

 

sk lamont Fear A Writer's Friend or Foe

 

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

Is fear your enemy?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont


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sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yours

These are a few of my favorite things- what are yours?

These are a few of my favorite things – what are yours?

sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yoursIn last week’s blog post, I talked about gathering my goals and getting ready for the new year, I also talked about reflecting on my life currently- what could I have done better, what’s not great, how am I missing the mark? I started thinking of ways that I can improve.

This week I am doing the opposite, before finishing up the year and creating a brand new set of goals for next year, I like to put together a list of what is great in my life.

It’s all too easy to see what is wrong with our life- at least I think so anyway. We can easily be dissatisfied thinking we’re missing something, or how we can improve or where did we fail and miss the mark. As we draw towards the end of the year, I do like to put my life under a microscope and seek out areas in which I can improve. But it is also just as important to figure out what is great in my life. I like to slow down for a couple of days, take stock, put on some great music even, close my eyes and think about my life and what I love about it!

What is great about my life?

Here is some questions and exercises that I use to focus on what’s great:

What do I love about my life?
Who are the special people in my life?
Special pets?
What is a particular meal I love, or color, or outfit, (I’m a bit partial to fuzzy socks myself! )
How much I love tea!
What music really inspires me or makes me weep?
What movies have I fallen in love with this year, or old favorites.
Or great stories I’ve read?

What do I love?

I grab a journal and start jotting down all the things I love or have a special affinity for.

Oh you might say I’m grateful for nothing, I love nothing, nothing good is in my life. Well if that is the case, think deeper. You’re able to read this aren’t you, be thankful you can read, and write it down. I’m sure it’s been less than 24 hours since your last meal, if so write it. You probably own a pair of shoes I’m guessing, put that down! If you have to start small, start thinking about what you could be grateful for, maybe eventually your learn to love these things too.

These are a few of my favorite things

So I made my children watch The Sound of Music last Christmas, it was one of the movies I loved growing up, it used to get shown every year in my country around Christmas, so my brain has filed it a Christmas movie, along with all the classic James Bond movies

Anyway, I don’t think anyone was that impressed with my choice of movies! But I do love that song.
Here’s the link if you need some inspiration!

sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yoursA few of the lyrics as a reminder:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things…

…When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

When I feel bad, out comes the list of memories and they help bring a little sunshine into my day. Then I go and enjoy some of the things on my list.

Here’s a few of mine:

My husband’s bristly beard

The soft touch of my two-year-old boy’s little cheek against mine

My first cup of tea in the morning

Walking in the woods, when the dappled sunlight filters through the leaves

The swirl of the ocean around my ankles, stealing the sand from under my feet

A good storm picking up around me and electrifying the air

Watching the rain rush towards me over the mountains, that moment right before it touches my face

Being cozy in my bed whilst a storm rages around the house

Coal fires crackling and the sound of rain outside the window

Okay so maybe I like storms a lot!

Then I write a list of magic moments

What has been a special moment today, this week, this month, this year.

Close your eyes and think about those special moments now, think about the people in your life, how do they look when they’re happy, when you’re playing around, think about special moments that put a smile on your face. When you just cuddled your pet, or went for a run, or danced this morning with wild abandon, or cozied up on the sofa with a good book.

Here are a few of my magic moments from this week:

This morning my little two-year-old son peeked around the door at me, looking sneaky- like a little pixie, expecting me to chase him, I did and he fell onto the floor giggling as I covered him in kisses.

Last night I enjoyed our wee Jack Russell as she ran around the bed doing turbo time, which basically means she goes crazy, running in circles, flying across the bed and then darts back under, before she attacks once more.

The other night I had fun in the kitchen, playing around and joking with my fifteen-year-old as we made dinner together.

Curling up in bed yesterday morning, with a good cup of coffee in one hand and a good book in the other.

These are a few of my favorite things - what are yoursI’m making a list and I’m checking it twice.

(actually I’m making two lists!)

What do I love?
What are some magic moments from this year?

One list is more general, the other more specific.

I want to make sure that I bring more of what is on my list with me into the new year, after all, these are the things that make my heart go pitter-patter and my spirit soar. Doesn’t have to be big things, in fact I find the smallest of things tickle me and bring me delight, and they are pretty easy to experience on a regular basis.

I like to think of it as soul maintenance, I think we can get all crumbly and dry on the inside if we don’t leave much room for the things that delight us in life.

Oh you might say, but they don’t contribute to my big goal this year or what I’ve decided is important. But the tiniest dose of joy is like rocket fuel and will give your purpose more drive, so don’t rob yourself of the things that make you happy.

After you’ve written your list don’t just file it away, keep it somewhere important, put it in a treasured place and pull it out frequently, when your feeling sad or when you just need to remember what is most in important in your life, when you feel truly alive.

It’s so important to stop and cherish what is great in our life, we’re always moving onto what’s next and sometimes forgetting what is now. If we don’t slow down from time to time to smell the roses, or the sweet fragrance that is already in our life, we might miss it all together. Then it is too late. When all we really do have left is memories, having missed the moment completely, where you can no touch and feel and taste and savor the richness that might be in your life right now.

Even if it’s an amazing cup of coffee or a smile from someone at the grocery store. Enjoy!

What are you grateful for? What are a few of your favorite things? What do you savor, enjoy? Who do you love, who loves you?

sk lamont These are a few of my favorite things - what are yours

Why don’t you share some of the items from your list in the comments box below, along with any other ideas or suggestions, or anything else you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

What’s on you list?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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Gathering my Writing Goals- Getting Ready for the New Year

sk lamont Gathering my Goals - Getting Ready for the New Year

Gathering my Writing Goals– Getting Ready for the New Year

sk lamont Gathering my Writing Goals - Getting Ready for the New Year Gathering my Writing Goals – Getting Ready for the New Year!

Being a former life coach has its advantages, it means I have the tools and strategies at hand to help me plan out my writing life and get it done! This week I’m sharing how I get ready to make the best use of my time in 2016, but gently does it now, the next two weeks are a time of preparation, or as I like to call it Goal Gathering Time.

Over the next two weeks I tune in to my inner life and listen closely.

Questioning my life

I like to ask the following questions:
What do I truly want?
Am I being congruent?
Is this the life I truly want to live?
How would I like to spend my days?
How can I live out my true authentic self?

Just because I’ve set a goal at some point in the past, does not mean it is still in alignment with what I truly desire today. So I like to take this time, to check in with myself and make sure I’m headed in the right direction. It’s easy to get off track and start pursuing something that once fulfilled you and no longer does. Or maybe you come to the realization that thing you thought you wanted no longer fulfills you, but it helped reveal a deeper part of yourself and now you know more of what you desire.

Hone your desire

What do I truly desire now?

When am I most at peace, most relaxed, most excited?
When do I feel truly alive?
Am I living my passion?
How can I bring more of that into my life?
What would it look like, sound like, taste like?

What do I want my life to look like?

I close my eyes and I imagine the perfect day

What would I be doing?
What is most important to me?
Am I spending time on what I say is more important, or do I let other tasks, get in the way?

Then I start gathering ideas and goals over the coming weeks, as I reflect on that vision, of living my life on purpose.

While most people are winding down for the holidays, I like to gather ideas and goals for the new year.

sk lamont Gathering my Writing Goals - Getting Ready for the New YearWhat new things would I like to see in my life or what I would like to maintain? I also reflect on my life currently- what could I have done better, how am I missing the mark? I start thinking of ways that can improve. I begin three lists, I put them in my phone or journal and start adding to them in the coming weeks.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

~ Benjamin Franklin

Between now and Christmas I gently start to collect thoughts and ideas for the new year. What I would like to see, or be, or continue, or bring in new?

 I add these goals and ideas to the following lists:

  • Add new
  • Maintain
  • Improve

My Writing Life

When it comes to my writing life specifically, I ask, what could I add to my life to make me a better writer?

Before getting into this, I would like to add a side note on the life wheel, this is a tool that is used in coaching to create a balanced life. I may in the coming weeks explore this a little deeper in a more holistic way, but for now suffice to say, that if the wheel is not balanced your life will feel ‘out of whack’ in some way or other. So even though I am focusing on writing, it is important to remember that writing may feel like our all, but we can’t make it our all, or in the end our writing will actually suffer, if our life is not more balanced.

It’s important for a writer to get out and live~

The following quote I think, sums up what I’m trying to say beautifully:

“In order to write about life first you must live it.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Gathering my Writing Goals Getting Ready for the New YearThe Writer’s Life Wheel

Big Picture vs Little Picture

Big Picture

Contributes globally to my life, but at the same time enhances my writing, giving me more energy and inspiration to bring to my writing.

Here’s a glimpse of some things on my list:

Get on my pottery wheel and throw pots
Dance
Exercise
Spend more time hugging and playing with my kids.
Research inspirational trips, where do I want to go this year-
– Maine
– Biltmore Estate
– Castles
– Turquoise Oceans

Little Picture

Enhances my writing life directly and obviously.

What do I want to learn?
How to write a series
Deepen characters
Books I want to read

I start collecting like a little squirrel for the bigger work that comes the week after Christmas. This is when I like to plan my next year in full, for now I like to keep this stage of gathering light and have fun with it. I have done this process since I became a coach back in 2000, this will be my 15th year of gathering. I love this time of year, so exciting, so full of promise. In the coming weeks I will be collecting and hiding away ideas, for ‘goal-setting’ week, where I’ll start setting down some hard deadlines.

Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of the things you hope to achieve in 2016? How do you hold yourself accountable? What fun ways to do you add another layer of learning into your life? Or what areas do you know you need to improve in? I’d love to know, please share in the comments box below.

What are your goals?

Follow me on twitter @sk_lamont

 


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