Who Will You Start to Become Today?

I meet people who want to do something new. They might want something new at work. They might want a new job. They might want to develop a new creative skill.

What they want will take time. I often ask what they will do today. They look at me with that deer-in-the-headlights look. Sometimes, they even say, “Huh?”

They need to start something. And, they need to start it today.

Here’s an example: I met someone recently who wants a new job. He’s been saying he wants a new job. However, he hasn’t acted at all. He hasn’t made a list. He hasn’t decided what to look for, where to look. He’s busy saying he wants a new job. He hasn’t changed his behavior to do something.

I meet lots of people who say they want to write. I encourage them. I ask, “What did you write today?” The writer looks at me as if I’m an idiot. “How about this week?”

Sometimes, we need to start. We might not know where we’re headed. We need to start somewhere.

For me, this is about changing my habits.

I’m not perfect at this yet. I’m still trying to create more fiction-writing time in my day. I know why those writers are looking at me as if I’m an idiot. I’m the same way with my fiction.

Here are some possible questions I’ve been using:

  • What would a successful day look like for you, when you start this thing you say you want? This is about finding space for new habits.
  • What habits might you need to create?
  • What habits might you need to break?
  • What habits might you change?

When I wanted to finish my first book, my goal was, “finish the book.” Well, we all know that’s way too big a goal. That’s the entire project. How could I break the writing down into smaller parts? I decided my interim goal was to deliver a chapter every two weeks to my reviewers. I knew I could finish the book by the end of the year. Because I wrote in two-week increments, I wrote a lot faster.

I changed my habits:

  • I created a habit of setting aside time in my calendar to write. Yes, I blocked off the time.
  • I broke the habit of letting other people interrupt me. Because I had time set to write, I could ignore everything else: email, phone, anything.
  • I changed my habit of thinking of the whole damn project to thinking of this chapter. I focused on finishing the sections so I could finish the chapter. As long as I finished the chapters, I would finish the book.

I was not able to write at the same time every day. Even now, I don’t write at a specific time of the day. Many other writers find writing at the same time each day works for them. Even then, a successful day was one where I wrote at least 250 words (one page).

I became a writer, first of that book, and now of many books. I changed my habits so they work for me.

When I want to start something new, I need to start something today. I change what I do, and a little about who I am.

That is the question this week: Who will you start to become today?

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