The Easy Way Out

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I once had entered this submission contest where you had to submit a short video and the top five videos would be picked and you would receive a prize, which was to go on a really cool trip. Now when I first saw this contest I wasn’t so sure about. I had heard about it kind of late in the game, three days before it was due, and wasn’t sure if I would get it done in time. So I mulled it over and over and finally decided to submit a video.

Now I have to say the video I did put together was actually pretty awesome and definitely reflected my style and personality. As I submitted I thought “this is it” I thought that I was going to win and that this would start to turn things around for me. However I didn’t win, but what I did do was realize something about myself.

If you notice in the last paragraph I had written that I thought “that this would start to turn things around for me,”. That’s the part I learned about myself, that was revealed to me by my mentor, and that I really need to change.

You see my life up to this point hasn’t been what I wanted it to be. I seem to keep moving but I get nowhere fast. With this contest I was throwing my hopes and dreams at it and thinking that if only I were to win this than things would be better, my life would be better. Would it? Or would I just end up back where I was? And what if I didn’t win? Then what?

You see this is called taking the easy way out. It is throwing your hopes and dreams at one thing and expecting that one thing to turn your life around. But it is also coping out because if that one thing fails you can just say “well I guess it wasn’t meant to be” or put the fault onto the failure of that thing.

Examples of this could be: trying to find a publisher for your novel and not getting a hit, or pitching an idea to your boss or investors and it not taking, or going for a promotion or raise and not getting it, or saying you need a friend to do something with you (like going to the gym) and when you can’t find one you just don’t go. You get the idea, but these are taking the easy way out.
It’s saying “Oh well the door closed on that so there must not be another door,”. When it reality you could publish the book yourself, pitch the idea to someone else or fund it yourself, go for another promotion, and just go to the gym anyways.
We can’t just throw our dreams at a situation and call it quits when it doesn’t work out. When one avenue isn’t the right one, find a different avenue, even if that means creating your own. So then the questions become how much is your dream worth, what will it take, and are you willing to do it?
Like I said, this is something I need to do myself but the first step is just knowing the problem is there.
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Are you Journaling? 5 Reasons why you should

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One of my bigger accomplishments of 2014 is that I kept a journal in which I wrote every night before bed. Each day I would do bullet points of happenings that day and at the bottom I would write tasks for tomorrow. No entry would be longer than a notebook page (in this case mine was 8×6) and each one was concise and summarized the day.

This year I will be doing the same again. If you are not journaling I urge you to on a routine business and if you are not sure why here are a few reasons:

1. It is a good way to evaluate in a timely fashion

Writing in it every night forced me to look back on my day and see just where I could have changed things or how I could have been more productive. It also helped me to reflect on things that happened relational, emotional, and spiritually. Why did I argue with that person? Hmmm I probably could have spent less time on social media. Wow, when I sum it up, I really didn’t do much of anything today. These are some thoughts I have at the end of the day when journaling and assessing how I acted during the day helps me make better decisions for tomorrow.

2. Keeps you on task

Part of my daily journaling is putting down the things that I had accomplished that day and things that I will need to do the next day. For instance when it comes to my writing, I would put what my progress was for the day and what I was expected to accomplish tomorrow. Also have you ever just gotten into bed and realized ALL the things you forgot to do that day? Yeah… now you have a place where you can write all those things down so you can remember to do them tomorrow.

3. Baggage lifter

Ever have something happen to you and you just need to get it off your chest. This is a good way to do that. “Never let the sun go down on your anger”. You don’t have to go into super details when writing about it, you can simply just write down that you are angry and frustrated. Just doing that can sometimes make you feel better.

4. Looking back

Going back now and rereading my journal entries allows me to see myself almost from the outside. I read entries of things I have gone through that seemed so consuming at the time but now I am over. There are events in it that I have forgotten have happened. And mostly there is a running theme of thoughts and actions that I didn’t notice before. It is like I am giving insight to myself. It is kind of like one of those look back videos they have on Facebook only this is far more detailed and personal.

5. It can be fun!

I use multicolored gel pens and alternate between them so at the end of the year it is like a rainbow of colors. Sometimes I will even paste something in it or doodle. At the front of the book I usually start it with a meaningful quote, then accomplishments for the past year, disappointments, and then what I am looking forward to this year. You can do whatever you like, get creative, it is your outlet.

So give it a try and start journaling, it is definitely worthwhile.

Also here are some tips for journaling:

  • Find the right kind of notebook whether it is spiral, leather-bound, or digital. Make it a format that will be readily accessible and comfortable to use. For instance I prefer a spiral or soft-bound notebook usually by the company miquelrius.
  • Make sure the notebook is thick enough. If you want to write everyday then you need a notebook that has about 400 pages/200 sheets.
  • If you are keeping a digital journal I suggest using a word processor (word or pages) and saving the entries to a special folder if you are doing separate documents. A great app to use for this would be Evernote or Day One . Check out this article for good iPhone apps and this one for android apps.
  • Put the date at the top of the page. I usually put the time, the day of the week, and the date.
  • Leave space at the bottom to put tasks for the next day. I will help you look forward to tomorrow and when you look back you can see how often those tasks were completed.
  • Do it everyday or just once a week but make sure you are consistent.
  • Be open. This is about you and you shouldn’t be closed off to yourself.

Happy journaling!

Hello to a New Year of Possibilities!

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2015! I got to ring in the new year with an awesome church service and then spent the next day hanging out with friends. I hope you also had nice time ringing it in, even if it was just a relaxing evening at home.

There is something about a new year that brings with it the feeling that anything is possible. That your old slate of disappointments, hurts, and setbacks are behind you and before you is an open window of possibilities. That this year is going to be great. That this year is going to be better than the last. It is as if all of time is stretched before and your reach is infinite.

And yes 2015 can be this and so much more but don’t get ahead of yourself too quickly.

Take a moment to pause and reflect on last year and the things that have happened. Reflect on how you were in those moments of triumph and despair and think of what you have learned from them and how you have grown. And then think of how you can apply those lessons to this year.

Sure this year itself is a blank slate but we are a series of marked slates that have been stacked upon each other and even though we now have a new one, there are still the old ones underneath. These slates make you who are, and you may not always like what is written on them but congrats because you just got a new one. This new slate is blank and waiting for the possibility of what you will put on it.

What will you write on your slate this year? What are the possibilities you will reach for? And if you don’t think you have any, think again. Just by you being here today means that your possibilities are endless even if you can’t see them, even if you have no idea how to reach them. So pick up that blank slate and start writing.

Goodbye 2014

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HELLOOOOOOO! I hope you all had a great holiday season. I, for one, was glad to have the day off. I spent Christmas in my pajamas and curled up with my Tardis cup and blanket to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Yes, that’s right, I’m a Whovian.

So now it is officially three days before the new year! How are those resolutions coming? What do you have planned for 2015? So this year, for me, hasn’t been what I wanted it to be and you know what, that’s on me. BUT that also means next year is on me too so there is always a possibility of change but only if I go for it.

Sometimes you need the perspective of someone else to look at your life to see you, to tell you things that you don’t really want to admit to yourself, but you need to hear. I hope you have someone like that and if not, find someone, it’s a huge help.

Have you been keeping track? Every night I write in a journal just what took place that day. Currently I am rereading it and discovering/remembering things about myself. There is a running theme, not a good one, that I don’t want to carry over into the new year. If you haven’t kept a journal or a record of each day I challenge you to do so for next year. It doesn’t have to be long. I usually keep it to a page with bullet point notes and then at the bottom I write my tasks for the next day.

Well I hope you have a great New Year and that next year will even be better than this last!

Light Summer Reading?

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So I may have over done it with how many books I have checked out. Not only do I have a plethora of books in my tablet but I also have a plethora of physical books. See I discovered this thing called “Overdrive” where you can check out digital book from a library as long as you have a library card. You can check out as many as ten at a time. Guess how many I have checked out?

Now to be fair it wasn’t like I planned for this. Actually I had put a good amount of books on hold, you know when your like number 24 out of 50, and it just so happens that ALL of them came up at once. Now I have to hurry up and read them before they all expire and then have to go on the holds list again just to read them.

Ahh the trials of a poor bibliophile… so many books so little time.

5 Ways to get Inspiration

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Even when I am not writing or working on a project I try to keep the creative juices flowing so that I can be open to ideas whenever they come to me. Which really can be in some of the strangest places. It’s amazing how many different ideas I get when I drive the same stretch of road everyday to work. The road and the path never changes yet something different happens causing me to think differently.

Here are a five things I do to keep those creative juices flowing.

1. Surf the net

This may sound a little counterintuitive considering that you are always told that surfing the net is a time waster, however if you do it with a sense of purpose that will change things. A lot of times I hop onto my computer to check my email, Facebook, and the like. But while I am doing that I am also keeping open to ideas whether it is through someone’s status, a funny meme, or a news report. I never know what is going to capture my attention and turn into a great idea.

2. Read everything

By this I truly mean everything. If you are in a doctor’s office waiting room read every sign, every plaque, every word on every surface. Everything. What’s really fun is reading it really fast in your head. It almost starts to make a weird sentence and then you piece things together that usually wouldn’t have fit.

3. Daydream

By this I don’t mean thinking about a beach vacation while you are stuck in a miserable winter state. Although fun, it’s not very productive. Daydream instead about where you see yourself in the future or if you are writing a story where you see your character going next. A lot of times before I write a story I will daydream it out first knowing how it is going to end and even go off on tangents that may not get written. But by doing this I’ve developed the story or the idea even further.

4. People watch/Observe

Did you know Walt Disney go the idea for the Disney theme parks after watching his kids play in a dilapidated theme park. After observing them and other families he thought to himself how great to would be to have a family centered place to go to that didn’t have the underlying seedy establishments as well. Thus came the idea for Disney theme parks. There are plenty of million dollar ideas out there, you just have to see them.

The other part of this is watching the habits and moments of people. Wonder what brought the person to this particular place today or if they are with someone how that happened. Listen in on conversations. Sometimes you need to get out of the perspective of your own world and hear another’s to understand how some people tick.

5.Talking

Conversations can bring me to the strangest places. Especially when talking with customers. I will meet the kind of people you really would think only existed on television. Sometimes after such a conversation I would think “man they would make a great character” it’s true. I’ve also had many conversations that have led to great ideas. Also they are just great motivators to keep you moving.

Jot it down!

Cultivating ideas are a great way to motivate and to create new projects but you have to write them down when you get them! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked myself when I’ve had an idea that was great and then I lost it. Of course there are those times when ideas come and you’re not in a good place to jot them down like the shower or driving. In these instances I try to expand on the idea and keep it running in my head until I can then write it down.

What are some ways that you keep your creative flow moving?

Keeping a Journal to Stay on Track

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A good way to keep yourself focused and on track is to keep a journal. To do lists and goal sheets are great starts but a journal will allow you to look at what you’ve done for the day and actually assess just how much progress you’ve made.

I have been keeping a journal since the beginning of the year and it has really helped me define the things that I’ve really worked on and pointed out the times in which I really didn’t do as much as I could have.

Here is how I break my journal usage down:

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1. The Date

Just as is says. Main purpose is of course so when you go back and look at your entries you know when you wrote it.

2. Events

This is where I write down different things that happen through out the day which usually break down this way:

  • Exciting things that may have happened
  • Recap of things that I was supposed to accomplish
  • What I actually accomplished
  • Unexpected issues (such as a plugin shutting down when building my site or having to wait in the doctor’s office due to being sick)
  • Insights (Had a break through in my script writing or came up with an awesome idea)
3. Tasks for Tomorrow

I usually leave the space at the bottom to figure out the things I need to do tomorrow to improve on what I did today or the actions I need to change in order to be more diligent.

How often should you write in your journal?

As often as you like. I usually make it a daily thing where every night before I go to bed I write in it.

The format of your journal can be anything you like. I keep mine in a good old thick notebook where the cover is decorated and I use multicolored gel pens just for fun. You can also use a computer and there are various apps that are available to use as a journal. What you choose to use is up to you. Just as long as you keep it up.

Top image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net