Nurturing your garden, tuning your machine
Both “garden” and “machine” are terms I use to describe the daily rituals of behavior that will take you to your goal. Some steps that are most efficient and effective:
Define your goal, preferably in all four basic areas (career, emotions, body, finances). Where do you want to be in three years in each?
Break down the goals so that you can see what the “1%” improvement will be. Would you need to do this weekly? Increase 1% daily? If it takes you more than a solid hour of focus daily to increase your capacity by 1%, it is too much. If you cannot expend at least a focused hour per WEEK on each arena…you aren’t serious. Adjust your daily work until a thousand successful days would take you to your goal.
In writing, such a “machine” might be: read 10 stories a week, write and submit a story a week, put them in the mail, keep them in the mail, don’t rewrite except to editorial request. That’ll do it. There are similar “machines” for any goal it is rational to attempt.
In general, it is rational to go after something if anyone else, starting from where you are, has ever accomplished it. Study them and determine their emotions, beliefs, strategies and actions. If you are willing to pay that price, GO FOR IT! If not…you need to change your goals.
If you know what you should be doing, but cannot get yourself to do the daily actions (stay on a diet/exercise program, meditate, write, balance your checkbook, etc.) the problem is probably conflicting emotions and values at an unconscious level. Do NOT let your ego trick you into thinking it is a moral flaw, or that you are “simply” lazy or self-destructive. Be even more careful of letting others infect you with this filth.
How to get back on track? The first step is to understand what is going on. Or, if you cannot, TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS THE FIRST STEP. Clarify your goal. Determine what you need to do. See if you can get yourself to do it. If “yes” then celebrate and bear down. If “no”? begin the process of inquiry:
What are my secondary payoffs?
What are my beliefs and values about this?
Do I have permission to succeed?
Why is there more pain than pleasure associated with this?
What did my role models of success do when they hit their barriers?
What am I afraid of?
If you are willing to ask yourself such questions (all of which are “who am I?” and “what is true?” queries) you are knocking at the right door.
WHAT IS GOING ON? Is your first question. Until you are honest about this (Musashi’s first dictate: “Do not think dishonestly”) you cannot go forward.
Here’s an article on the subject of getting yourself to keep your promises to yourself: http://www.vox.com/2016/3/4/11147432/immunity-to-change