Monday, May 27, 2013


Best effort.
Give it all you've got.
Leave it all on the field.

All the above is the stuff of movie training montages, motivational books and inspiring songs.  I would submit that it’s important to give 100% when you're striving for that big goal... few would argue with that.  I would also say that it’s easier said than done.
Many times we hold back as an excuse in case we fail.  “Well gosh, I know I would have made it had I given it my all.  It’s not because I'm not good enough/ smart enough/ strong enough.  I just wasn’t ready to give it my all.  Maybe next time, though...”.  It’s takes no small amount of courage to put your ego on the line, but in the end, you’ll have to do so if want to get where you want to go.  This is something that I struggle with, but in the end I would rather have given it my best shot than to have to live out my days wallowing in regret.
The other piece of the puzzle is that sometimes it’s hard to identify what 100% actually means.  I do know that, with regards to my writing career, it’s a matter of writing as much as possible along with becoming as marketing savvy as I can be.  That’s pretty clear cut... it boils down to time, effort and willpower.  Getting fit is similar in most respects... one must workout consistently, regularly and eat well in order to succeed.
Not every situation lends itself to that kind of full-bore, valiant effort, though.  Take romance for example.  Love will not bend to your will, in fact, pushing too hard will likely result in ending up in an unsatisfying relationship or, just as likely, scaring off your intended.  Imagine, for example, being interested in someone who isn’t quite ready to “move forward”.  Do you push forward relentlessly?  Do you give everything you’ve got to the goal of getting together with this person?  No... probably not your best move, unless you want to be marked as a pest or worse (and yes, I have been on the receiving end of this).  Patience is actually the order of the day.  Patience and time.
These two situations may on the surface seem to be on the opposite ends of the effort spectrum, but not really.  Both require faith and discipline.  I have to have faith that I will reach my writing goals, along with the discipline to keep up my efforts and forge ahead each day.  As for that not-quite-there romance, one must have faith that the other person will eventually come around, along with the self-control to hang back a little and be patient (to say nothing of the intestinal fortitude to walk away if need be).

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Who, What, When, Where, Why, How

I have a journalism degree.
That alone is not a particularly fascinating piece of information, but I would submit that much of what I learned has borne fruit in surprising ways.  For example, there’s this... the most fundamental News Writing 101 lesson that exists. Quite simple, to the point and the bedrock of modern journalism and every story you read in your daily newspaper.
Who, what, when, where, why, and how.
I think the Five Ws (and an H) are quite useful in another context... planning your life and setting some goals. Here’s what I mean...

WHO- Yes, I suppose you fundamentally know who you are.  You’re Joe Smith, thirty-two years old, five-feet ten inches tall, etc. etc.  Fine.  But who are you really?  What do you stand for?  What are your priorities and values? Your identity, your priorities and values will inform your goals and by extension, your life.  The question of WHO deserves some serious thought.

WHAT- Now we get into the good stuff.  What, exactly, is your goal?  Yeah, you want more money, but how much?  You want to be more fit?  Great... but how much weight do you want to lose?  It’s important to be as specific as you can.  Take weight loss for example... once you define how much weight you want to cut, you can then set a specific and detailed plan.  Before you do that, though, it’s helpful to know...

WHEN- By when do you want to lose those twenty pounds?  Mid next week might be pushing it, but let’s shoot for three months down the road.  Given the generally accepted standard of safe weight loss (1 ½ pounds a week) that is eminently doable.  Now you can keep track of your progress and see where you are relative to where you should be.  Should you fall behind at some point, you’ll have plenty of time to step it up or rethink your strategy.

WHERE- So you have this goal... now it’s time to examine where you are now.  I don’t just mean “I weigh 200 pounds now and want to weigh 180”.  Just as important as the start and end points is knowing if you can truly launch towards this goal and ultimately get there.  Are you willing to do the work?  Do you believe you can get this done?

WHY- My personal favorite W.  Just as your goals are the vehicle to get you where you want to go, your whys are the fuel.  Why do you want to lose this weight?  Do you want to look better for your mate (or just as good, make an ex-mate seethe with regret)?  Is your goal to be healthier so you can be around to dance at your granddaughter’s wedding?  Perhaps you want to test yourself just to see what you're made of?  Whatever the case, a good strong why will help you to keep moving forward when others might fold.

HOW- How are you going to get there?  Sure, you intend to eat better, but it’s important to know what you're doing... read a good nutrition book, try some new recipes, get rid of all that junk food in the pantry.  Then there’s exercise... will you go for a three-mile run every morning?  Are you going to go to the gym or pop in a Jillian Michaels DVD after work.  Set a road map, one that is as specific as possible; or you’ll likely flounder.

So there you have it... The Five Ws (and an H) of achieving goals.  Now go forth and write your own story (preferably one that has a happy ending).