road painted with the words Never stop learning

Stumbling Along the Path to Self-Improvement: February Update

As I described in this post, my inbox burst with offers in January. Did I wish to write a bestseller, change anything, pen five hundred words a day, simplify my life, Marie Kondo fold all my clothes, get organized in thirty-one days, and learn to be a super plotter. Yes, please!

Unfortunately, I also wanted to eat, sleep, and spend time with my friends and family. The time required to implement the above options made these goals appear incompatible. My FOMO (fear of missing out) kicked in. What if I chose the wrong one? After all, I hadn’t even KNOWN I needed to fold my clothes differently. (Thank goodness for Netflix. See that post here.)

In addition to the e-mails, Facebook groups, workshops, and new Netflix programs, several library books I’d been waiting for became available. I love the Seattle Public Library. Not only can I get FREE books, (If you read this post, you know that’s a big plus for me.) I can also check availability, place holds, and read e-books from the convenience of home. Whenever a book catches my fancy, (frequently) I add it to my holds list. I do this at random intervals and the number of readers in the queue ahead of me can vary from one to over one hundred. There is an option to pause a hold and reactivate it in the future. Regrettably over the holidays I forgot to monitor my list. Through some mathematical mystery, several books became available at the same time. Of course, I ignored my overloaded agenda and checked them out anyway. ALL of them.

Did I finish? No, I did not. To make matters worse, e-books aren’t eligible for renewal. So as their due dates loomed, I was forced to return some (gasp) unread. No worries, I added them to my list again. One I did read, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, proved to be an excellent choice. (See my Goodreads review here.) It helped me realize that I can overcome my nasty habit of overloading my schedule.

Since I didn’t want to add to YOUR deluge, I promised not to share my findings during January. The good (or bad?) news: it’s February! I managed to clear my inbox and I’d like to share some of the highlights. If you’d like more information on any of the following items, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Recommended reading

Challenge Accepted!

  • My 500 words: A Writing Challenge.  Jeff Goins’ concept is to start or reinforce your daily writing habit by writing five hundred words each day. Although I’ve previously completed his thirty-one day challenge (see this post), Change Anything encouraged me to begin again. Why? Daily prompts reinforce my writing habit, posting word counts to the Facebook group provides accountability and support, plus it feels like a game. (That I win each day I write!)
  • ‪#‎31Days2GetOrganized 2019‬. Busy or not, the clutter-hater in me refuses to miss Peter Walsh’s annual event. Each day he posts a small task that helps keep your home organized. Since we’ve downsized and remodeled, I’d completed most of this year’s suggestions. (Thank goodness!) Yet, I always pick up a few pointers.

Webinars and Workshops

  • Paperless Workshop. I NEED to use digital tools to simplify my life. (See my clean desk post here.) This workshop was a January or never opportunity I couldn’t resist. I found Barbara’s templates in a previous Evernote class. (Read that post here.) My biggest takeaway? Tools can be helpful, but the key to productivity is setting clear priorities. I have to work on this area and will share more in a future post
  • How to Write A Bestseller. Yet again, this Jeff Goins class was a limited time offer. One of my biggest concerns last year was not finishing my book. (See this post, or this post, or this post. I guess you get the point.) So, I decided to implement the Change Anything method and engage the six sources of influence to (fingers crossed) make this the year I reach that goal.

Miscellaneous tips and inspiration

  • Have difficulty concentrating on editing? Jami Gold cleverly suggests using a different font.
  • Want an easier way to capture handwritten notes? I received a Rocketbook notebook for Christmas. It’s so easy to snap a picture and save the notes. It’s also satisfying to erase the page and use it again and again. Although my penmanship could use some work!
  • Is Writer’s block real? Read Lisa Bell’s guest post on Jami Gold’s blog here. Spoiler: The answer is yes, and you can train your brain to fight it.
  • How do you create reader empathy with your characters? Read this excellent article on about Xenia. I’d never heard of it before, have you?
  • Need some fun and inspiration? Subscribe to any of Jon Acuff’s e-mail lists. He wrote the book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done (See my post here.) In a recent e-mail he said this is how he motivates himself to run outside during the winter. “I dream in technicolor about the finish and keep the start in black and white. In the middle of the run, when I want to give up, I remember I’ve got the finish to look forward to. If you’re going to go to the gym, or prepare your meals for the week or get more sleep, you’ll be tempted to think about the beginning. Don’t. Ignore it. Don’t give a second thought. Save all that imagination for the end. Even if it sucks to run in January. And it does, but I’m going to do it anyway because that’s the only way I get to enjoy the finish.”
  • How many times have you heard the story about filling your jar with big rocks first? I must really need this lesson because several of my digital mentors mentioned it in January.

I think I’ve shared enough! (In my defense, I gave fair warning in this post.) I’ll finish with this. In December, I watched A Godwink Christmas, on the Hallmark Channel. In the movie, the heroine desperately wants a sign that she is making the correct choice. Her aunt, played by Kathie Lee Gifford, tells her she needs to pay attention to coincidences, flukes, or chance encounters because sometimes God only winks. I tend to be more practical than mystical, but the flood of information I received seems to be more of a swift kick than a wink. It’s time to stop reading advice and change everything, write my bestseller, and refold my socks!

I hope you find some helpful tidbits. Feel free to share. Do you have a tip to add to my list? Leave a comment!

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2 thoughts on “Stumbling Along the Path to Self-Improvement: February Update”

  1. I’m wrestling with over-commitment and trying to do too much on a constant basis. You’re right: setting clear priorities helps. I’m forcing myself to say no more often as well. Then when I’m buried…I just try to take one step at a time. We’ll see how I do!

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