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Archive for the 'Art & Creativity' Category

how do you define success?

Monday, July 11th, 2016

“Imagine how our culture, how our lives, will change when we begin valuing go-givers as much as we value go-getters.” (1)Many people have asked me, how to I define success?

The important question is, ‘How do you define success?’

Below is a range of responses from my The Art of Success Questionnaire.

Do you notice any key themes? Are any success triggers for you?

  • Fulfillment from my own endeavors
  • You can be “in the moment” all the time
  • Living creatively, i.e. making a living off of my creativity, always learning and growing, new experiences and opportunities. Love of family and friends.
  • Validation, self worth
  • Free-will
  • Self contentment
  • Continuous learning
  • Pure happiness and contentment
  • Doing what you love and being good at it
  • Happiness, freedom, security
  • Contentment, respect, lasting, responsibility, ingenuity, purposeful
  • Happiness, joy, flow, money and fire
  • Freedom to live as I please
  • Everything in my life is balanced work, self, mind
  • Freedom
  • It means being happy in what I’m doing, fulfilling my life’s purpose, and being financially stable
  • Happy and fulfilled
  • Doing what you want, when you want with who you want
  • Living a heart centred life, doing what you love, being content
  • A feeling of fulfilment and contentment in all areas of my life
  • Realisation of a worthwhile goal
  • Being happy and living the life you’ve dreamed to live while helping others
  • Success means living a lifestyle that aligns with my values and being true to myself
  • Achieving even my smallest dreams
  • Success is finding your joy in life
  • Being true to myself, happy with where I’m at
  • Continuous growth and making a significant positive impact on people’s lives
  • Being happy to go to work and financially independent
  • Having done pretty much everything I wanted to do by the time I die

How do I define success? Success is finished books! Living a creative, soulful life with the freedom to live my life as I choose, doing something that inspires myself and others. And success is also living a life of no regrets.

“I thought I was learning to live: I was only learning to die,” Leonardo da Vinci once said. He valued wisdom, understanding and freedom of thought, through the pursuit of knowledge gained from his own experience.

Leonardo worked and lived with passion and purpose—following his own curiosities to serving and benefit humanity and to share his knowledge with others. And to live, and die, knowing he had lead a significant life.

“I want to create miracles,” he once wrote. And what a miraculous life of significance he led. Leonardo pursued his visionary principles unto his death, documenting all that he learned to benefit the lives of others. In the process he failed, and failed again. He faced the wrath, scorn and jealously of others. He faced poverty, grief and loss. And at times suffered extreme self-doubt and despair. But he never departed from his course.

Be inspired by Leonardo. Challenge conventional definitions of success and live a life on your own terms. Take the Art of Success Questionnaire here >>

I’ve found the insights people have shared super helpful as I wrote my book The Art of Success. It’s nearly ready to send out to my advance readers, before going to the editor and then to print.

How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and LifeThe Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed Personally and Professionally will be available in July 2016. To be the first to know and receive a free gift, click here >>

Work With Higher Purpose: how to find your life purpose

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.54.19 pm“Many entrepreneurs ask me, ‘Where is the market opportunity – where can I make lots of money?’ I tell them to think this way instead: “What are you so passionate about doing that you’d be happy doing it for ten years, even if you never made a dime? That’s the business you should start, and be in. Ironically, you will end up making money. So chase the vision and the higher purpose, not the money.”

Tony Hsieh Zappos, Former CEO Zappos.com

The truth is nothing great in the world has been achieved without purpose. Purpose gives people an edge, firing the flames of passion, enthusiasm, drive and initiative needed to succeed.

Working with purpose stokes the embers of flagging motivation, and procrastination and helps fuel latent dreams.

Pursuing your purpose can lead you to the work you were born to create.

Purposeful Entrepreneurs

Many people have turned things that made them angry, like injustice, hatred or dishonesty, into their life’s work and brought about meaningful and powerful change as a result. Others have transcended personal setbacks to help others create meaningful change.

Former fashion model Elle McPherson discovered her purpose and found her niche following a cancer scare and post suffering burn out. Her flagship product, THE SUPER ELIXIR™ Alkalising Greens showcases her deepest conviction that what you feed your body nurtures your mind, body and soul.

Others have turned their favourite skills and obsessions into wonderful products and services for others to enjoy. Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson has used his entrepreneurial skills and love of fun to create businesses that others get a buzz from too.

“Business can be a creative enterprise in itself. You’re trying to create something that is original, which stands out in the crowd that will last and hopefully serve some useful purpose. Above all you want to create something you can be proud of,” Branson says.

Make Yourself Proud

Barry Watson wanted to make himself proud. He turned his life around, saving his marriage in the process. Now he finds meaning and purpose helping others save their relationships too. While still holding down a salaried position he’s started a business on the side.

My business is called A Great Couple. I help couples have an amazing relationship together. I chose the name because it ideally described what I wanted to do: help couples have a great relationship. I chose to enter this space because my wife and I have had several major marriage hurdles to overcome, and I wanted to help others avoid, and get through them.

I love helping others! There’s nothing yet like knowing that the painful experiences you have gone through have helped someone in their moment of need. Life can be tough at times and knowing someone is there to help can mean the world.

To make sure I was offering the right service for the right market I talked to my audience. I don’t try to assume I think I know what they want. I spend time asking them, and then base my business offerings off what they specifically want to meet their needs.

Keeping his energy levels high

I work 40+ hours in another job, so balance is critical. I try to live a focused life that puts emphasis on the things that matter, and eliminate time wasting activities as much as possible. I also try to have set goals for each day so I don’t become stagnant and stuck in the same spot.

I’m a passionate person so I need to be careful I don’t do too much. I get up before 5am, pray, go to the gym (some mornings) and start writing before I have to leave for work around 7am. I look at the board I created with my 2016 goals on it, and connect with many like-minded people who inspire me to keep reaching higher. I also try not to take for granted what I’ve been given. In a moments notice it could be be gone, so seizing the precious moments that life blesses us with is crucial.

Finding customers

Networking is key, as is trying to give more to others than you get back. If you do this, people will tell others about you and it helps to grow your “following.” Some of my most successful marketing, especially for the books I have written, has included: building friends on Facebook, various book promotions sites; and networking with others to help promote my books.

Passion, great plans, committed team, perseverance and making lots of profit, contribute to being a successful self-employed person. Some of the best advice I’ve received is, if you can dream it, it’s because you are supposed to achieve it.

You can find Barry Watson and learn more about his business, including his wonderful books via his website here: www.agreatcouple.com

Getting Clear About Your Purpose

As Barry’s story illustrates, gaining greater clarity about life’s purpose begins with gaining greater self-awareness of the life experiences that have shaped you, your passions and the legacy you want to leave in the world.

It means getting clear about the work you were born to do, creating a clear and compelling vision about your preferred future and ensuring everything you do from this point on takes you closer to your life purpose.

Book_transparentbg copyThis has been an excerpt from Mid-Life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself.  Find your purpose and point of brilliance and read other inspirational stories of success inMid-Life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself available in print and eBook on Amazon.

Three ways to turn your weakness into a strength

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” cropped

Don’t let your weakness deceive you!

Too often people focus on their weaknesses without reframing them as strengths. This can rob you of confidence, self-esteem and your next great opportunity to truly shine.

Your greatest weakness is also, very often, your greatest strength. It’s all about timing and context.

My greatest weakness? Distraction—including getting excited about my next book before I’ve even finished the one I’m working on! My heart is racing, I feel breathless, excited…as though my eyes will burst forth in a flood of joyful tears…Coco Chanel! Yes, this amazing lady will be the next focus of my The Art of Success series!

 

Writing room Teh Art of Success

I had just finished reading her biography, and then stumbled across a newsletter in my inbox, with a link to some amazing newly discovered images. One of the many reasons I don’t unsubscribe from some newsletters is because sometimes, when I least expect, I will be delighted! (confession – I have over 200 emails in my inbox – I’m an email hoarder!)

Here’s the cover for the first book in the series – also a passion project. For Leonardo da Vinci I chose the Flower of Life to symbolise everything this renaissance genius believed.

When I was at architecture school we were challenged to create sets for a play—we had to distill the essence of the lead character as simply as possible. I still recall the set we designed for Mae West—a black backdrop with a simple red raised rectangular platform in the centre.

My greatest weakness is also my greatest strength
I have no problem generating ideas—something my clients value when they are feeling stuck. I’ve been hired for coveted role in business environments because of my creativity, in this regard. And when I wrote a column for 4 years for The Dominion Post and also contributed to The New Zealand Herald people said, “I love your column. I keep some of them pinned on my wall. How do you come up with so many different ideas?”

Recently I was interviewed by Olivia Gamber a US Career Expert. Do you know what she put as the lead quote?

“The biggest skill you need to have during a career transition is an imagination.”

If your imagination could do with some stimulation check out the interview here http://occupationalolivia.com/how-to-overcome-your-mid-life-career-crisis/

Like Leonardo da Vinci I am naturally curious about everything. Avoiding a thinking rut, and following seemingly unrelated themes is an efficient and simple way to stimulate new ideas.

What’s your greatest weakness?

Your greatest weakness can also be your ‘unfair advantage’ —it’s what comes so easily, or what you do effortlessly, that others find difficult.

Your weakness may be what others criticise you for. For example, I was often told I was too sensitive and needed to toughen up. Yet I am highly empathic, and intuitive with natural psychic skills—something I use in my writing, painting and business mentoring.

Three ways to turn your weakness into a strength

Work for fit! If you’re stubborn and inflexible, for example, pick a work environment, role or project  where your  bloody-minded focus will achieve the results needed.

Complement. Pick a team, role or group where you can complement the current skillset.

Prepare.  “What is your greatness weaknesses?” is a standard interview question. Don’t run through your list of weaknesses without highlighting examples of where either your weaknesses was a strength in a certain situation; or demonstrating it’s an area you have invested time and skill developing self-mastery.

For more ways to clarify your best-fit, environment, role or job check out the Career Rescue Series, or How to Find Your Passion and Purpose

signature my name angie edited

p.s

So, what should the cover be for Book Two of The Art of Success: Coco Chanel. Leave a comment—share with friends—one of your ideas could be on my next #1 best-seller!

Book One of  The Art of Success (Leonardo da Vinci): How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed Personally and Professionally will be available in July 2016. To be the first to know and receive a free gift, click here https://worklifesolutions.leadpages.co/the-art-of-success/

 

To fulfil your potential you have to step out of the comfort zone

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

shoot for the stars by Kimberly Gordon ReelandWhilst it’s commonly stated that we should do what comes naturally, this may not be the best advice!

To fulfil your potential you have to step out of the comfort zone of doing what you do well and embrace the uncertain world of trying something new.

In doing this you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing whether you swim on a new current of fulfilment and success – something others refer to as ‘flow”.

Just as Jilly did, the wonderful lady in her 70’s who has become a photographer, and whose story I shared in Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy).

Listening to Jilly’s stories of reinvention, it’s clear to me that variety, learning and new challenges are some of her most important values. “‘I’ve always followed my dream – I wasn’t a mid-lifer who found what I wanted to do. I always took chances and jumped in with both feet!” She said. 

Read her inspiring story in Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy), or check out her website – her work is really, really special. Her natural affinity for dogs, and the skills she’s developed with the camera, creates something truly magical. She has now had several exhibitions with two more coming up next year. Also she has been invited to join Getty Images.

 

 

But what if you  don’t swim? What if you sink? At least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you tried, and the great fortune of implementing your lessons learned in your next attempt!

Refresh Your Life With Change

Sticking with what you do well can be the worst thing to do if you want to live a meaningful life. To develop new skills, new ways of being to become someone other than who you believe yourself to be takes a willingness to change.

As astrologer Sarah Varcas shares, “It takes courage and fortitude, a willingness to be a new-born again, discovering life from scratch, adopting a new perspective and fresh guidelines. Of course we can take our strengths and abilities with us on the journey. They’ll come in more than handy! But to see them as the be-all and end-all, the extent of our ‘tool kit’, is to live a half-baked life in the shadow of who we could actually be if we allowed ourselves to grow.”

Here’s a few questions to ponder, the answers may prove liberating:

  • What would you be willing to try if you were 10 times bolder?
  • What wouyld you try if you knew success was guaranteed?
  • How could trying out new ways of being or working enrich your life?

Finding My Passion and Purpose

I put into motion my own advice late last year and published my first two books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series on Amazon. What fun! I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.

Since embarking on change I’ve published a book a month and recently penned my third book: How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live The Life You Love, is more of guide, than a book – a nice short, easy to implement tool kit to help you live and work with passion and purpose.

The Amazon details and link are here: http://amzn.to/1W0IreR

A new thing I did for the first time was creating my own cover – using my own art work too. The feedback I’ve received about both the book and the cover has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have perceived. I gain from the satisfaction and fulfilment of being fully autonomous in all aspects of publishing and gaining from the immediacy and intimacy of the feedback from readers.

“Simply delightful, witty quick read, packed with excellent information. I’m actually believing now, I could change my career after 18 years!” Wrote one Amazon reviewer.

“I feel I want to read this book now! The red energy swirl suggests an invitation to enter a journey of discovering ones passion,” shared another person when she first saw the cover.

Of course, sometimes when you try new things, even successful new things you can attract criticism. I did when I wrote my second book. A reviewer said,  “I loved the inspiration, content, and message. There book rambles a lot though.”

Ok, I thought. I won’t ramble in my next book – I’ll be more concise!

How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live The Life You Love is available through Amazon at the special introductory price of $.99 for a limited time. http://amzn.to/1W0IreR

How to create a new life – harness the power of one and achieve your goals

Friday, January 1st, 2016

one thought,
one feeling,
one intention,
one desire,
one challenge

A very warm greeting to you on this most auspicious day  the first day of the first month – the beginning of a wonderful new year.

One has become my favourite number. I love its simplicity. In an era where overwhelm threatens the peace and equilibrium of so many, ‘one’ makes things easy.

My one goal last year was to overcome my own self-doubt and follow my passion for writing. I love writing. It’s what I was born to do. If I don’t have a pen in my hand, a notebook at the ready, I feel lost, anxious, irritable, Writing soothes my soul. Writing allows me to connect with others and to express the things I care deeply about.

And so with this in mind, I made one promise to myself in 2015 – to publish one book. And then another in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series. Books which would share my own mid-life journey to career nirvana, and the journey of other seekers too.

And in turn, my hope was that sharing these stories would inspire you.

So it’s been exciting to read the reviews and hear from people who have read my first books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series. People like Hillary who said, “This is the perfect gentle nudge needed to move me forward and make those scary life changes.

I was scared last year too. I wondered how my books would be received. I wondered if anyone would like them. I feared public rejection, bad reviews, losing the time and money I had invested – all those things. But my desire was stronger. I didn’t want to wonder, ‘what if.” What if I had taken a risk and published my book. I took the risk, and it’s been worth it. I chose to change my focus  – to create in my minds eye everything I that dreamed of and saw in my mind’s eye, that I wanted to become ‘true.’

Going to bed last night on New Year’s Eve after celebrating the last day of 2015, to find Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy) twas #1 on the best-seller list on Amazon was amazing. And waking up today on the first day of 2016 and finding it was still #1 was fun!

So if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do this year it would be this – feel the fear and follow your passion anyway. Be curious, be playful, be adventurous and see where these feelings take you.

If you know anyone who needs a gentle nudge this year to make a change for the better the link is here http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

What’s one intention you could make this year that, when followed through, would make a tremendous difference to your life? Please let me know on in the comments section of this blog

In the meantime I leave with you with this inspirational sculpture created by renown New Zealand Sculptor Chris Booth. My partner commissioned it for my 50th birthday last year. Together the three of us named it Viewfinder, which I love given my passion for photography. Of course, a viewfinder is the tool that enables you to find your point of focus. The viewfinder is the single most important user interface on any camera. And your viewfinder – your point of focus, the thing that captures your interest, your attention, your passion, is the most important tool in creating your best life in 2016. Set your focus, capture your desires and allow them to motivate and guide you throughout the hours, weeks, and months which follow.

Viewfinder Chris Booth web

I wish you a very happy new year. May 2016 bring you continued happiness and joy.

How to change careers – follow your passion not your pension

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

20120416-Chiens Diaporama  (1 of 1)-26

It’s my great privilege to share a sneak peek at Jilly Bennett’s incredible story of reinvention and her amazing photography.

I first met Jilly in 2014 when I was chasing my many passions in Italy. We both signed up to follow another passionate woman, photographer Carla Couslon, with whom we travelled around Puglia learning more about photography and a life worth living. Carla’s books Italian Joy and Chasing A Dream spoke to us all, luring us to distant shores.

I adore Jilly’s zest for life and the way she so poignantly shatters mistaken beliefs about ageing. As you’ll see and read for yourself in my latest book, ‘Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Makes You Happy) How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you  love, before it’s too late’. Available in paperback and ebook from the following Amazon link http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

I loved including Jilly’s story, especially when I read reviews like those below:

If, like me, you’re sick of reading/hearing ‘find your passion’ and you’ve no idea what to do – this book has it covered! I liked that the author explains how to actually go about finding your ‘passion’ or ‘purpose’. And she included the ‘reality testing’ step as well. I’m at a mid-life career crisis point – a very useful read!” ~ Amazon Review

“This book asks you all the basic questions and provides direction to . It provides numerous examples of success based on passion for the cynics amongst us. And you can do all this in the safety of the work life you dislike. Now it is your turn to find out how the book ends.” ~ Simon Weiner

20151123-DSCF8093

Follow this blog link to view Jilly’s photos and be inspired by her story:

http://www.worklifesolutions.co.nz/how-to-be-happy-with-yourself-prioritising-whats-important/

How to be happy with yourself – prioritising what’s important

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

PRIORITISING WHAT’S IMPORTANT

“Values are a matter of what guides you through every day, every task, every encounter with another human being. Yet we are often unaware of what our values are.” ~ Richard Bolles, Author

Sometimes the job of your dreams may be the one least likely to pay the most. But it’s not always about the money. Right? There’s more to being rewarded for the work you do than the pay cheque you take home at the end of the week.

Job satisfaction, fulfilment, quality of family and private life and mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health are too often left out of the equation when evaluating job opportunities.

Most people will say that having enough money to live comfortably is important to them. But not everyone is willing to work for less money in order to have other needs meet.

For these people what they value most is not money, it’s something else more important to them – such as working for a specific cause, helping people, being creative, being challenged or having great work-life balance and plenty of free time.

Being aware of what your non-negotiable values are, and proactively ensuring these needs are met at work is vitally important. A career choice that is in line with your core beliefs and values is more likely to be a lasting and positive choice. It allows you to be who you really are, and do what you really need, in order to achieve what you want.

What Are Values?

Your most important values are the things you feel very strongly about. Your values are who you are and who you want to be. They are the ideals that guide or qualify your personal conduct, interaction with others and involvement in your career.

Like morals, they help you to distinguish what is right from what is wrong, and good from bad. They’re signposts which direct you to your best-fit career and inform you on how you can live your life in a meaningful way.

Your values are formed in a variety of ways through your life experiences, the way you are uniquely wired and the choices you make. They’re who you are and who you choose to be.

Jilly left home when she was only 14. As she says, hers was not a conventional life. Now in her 70’s, her most important values centre around independence, autonomy, creativity and freedom. It’s not hard to understand why. Now living in a medieval village near to Menton, France, and working as a photographer and journalist, her life and work reflects who she is and the things most important to her.

Listening to Jilly’s stories of reinvention, it’s clear to me that variety, learning and new challenges are important values too. “‘I’ve always followed my dream – I wasn’t a mid-lifer who found what I wanted to do. I always took chances and jumped in with both feet!  I ran a drama school with a one-time husband, I was an actress, I owned two restaurants, one in London, one in Hobart, Tasmania.

“My grand passion though was dogs and bred and showed dogs for over thirty years and  during the 1980s, had one of the top breeding and showing kennels in Old English Sheepdogs  I also judged the breed all over the world. I’ve lived in America, in Australia, in Wales, in London, and, for the past 25 years, in France. I was never ever a person who needed a mid-life boost as it were.”

Jilly, says she always had what others call courage. “In fact had I not said ‘yes’ to every opportunity in life I knew I’d always worry what I’d missed. It seemed to me it took more courage to say ‘No’ than to say ‘Yes’.” When she was 67, new adventures beckoned, and she picked up a camera.

“I didn’t get into photography because it was something I’d always wanted to do- in fact, during my years showing Old English Sheepdogs, I was endlessly taking photos of the show dogs and puppies, so perhaps that was the beginning of my creativity in photography.

“But about eight years ago a blog about a town not far from me drew my attention, and I thought ‘I can do that!’ and so I did. My photography was woeful – crooked buildings, and horizons – not that I knew it at the time. But slowly by looking at other photographer’s work, I started to ‘see’ what I needed to improve.  I got inspired and gradually improved my skills (I still am!).

“I took workshops, (Carla Coulson and Nick Danziger – both life changing) photography friends helped me, I read endlessly on the subject and watched training videos. Eventually, instead of writing about my town with photos, I was taking photos for their own sake.”

I love Jilly’s motivation, ‘I could do that!’ How many times have you said that. But how many times have you acted on it?

“I do think life experiences have made me a better photographer – the technical side had to be learned, but it’s in what I choose to photograph that defines my work. I love, for instance, the world of street photography. For me, a good photograph needs to make the photographer and the viewer ‘feel’ something.”

Jilly’s most recent creative endeavour blends her love for dogs with her passion for photography. “During my years as a dog breeder, exhibitor and judge, I always photographed my dogs in show pose. I think that gave me an ‘eye’ for a photo, as I had an eye for a dog, as we say.”

Check out her website – her work is really, really special. Her natural affinity for dogs, and the skills she’s developed with the camera, creates something truly magical. She has now had several exhibitions with two more coming up next year. Also she has been invited to join Getty Images.

Jilly is currently working on two books, one about the medieval hill village where she lives – not a book for tourists, as such, but one that will follow the daily lives of the people who live there and who have made her so welcome. The second book will be called Riviera Dogs.

Saying yes to opportunities, makes your life richer

As Jilly’s story highlights, saying ‘yes’ to opportunities as they appear has made her life richer.

This is an excerpt from career expert Cassandra Gaisford’s Amazon #1 best-selling book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Makes You Happy) How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you love, before it’s too late.

To celebrate the release of her new book she’s giving you something for FREE!

Click Here to Download Your FREE Find Your Passion Workbook

Three days to train a horse. Three days to change a habit.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

IMG_2846Golden Dream, one of the pregnant mares we’ve been babysitting, started eating the fences while we were away for three days. My partner said, ‘Something has got to change, either the horses changed their behaviour or they have to go.’

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with writing or any act of creativity? I didn’t want the horses to go, just like I don’t want to give up my dream of being published in fiction.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of talk that it takes 21 days to change a habit, but where’s the evidence? Why 21 days? What if the truth was it only takes three days to change a habit? That would be cool.  Three days is manageable, easier to chew and simpler digest. Then add three more days, and three more, until voilà you have achieved seven sets of three and a new habit is ingrained. Of course it can’t stop there. A new habit has to continue to be effective.

I proved my horse theory of behavioural change today. Day three and the horses are retrained, I’m still working on training myself to change unhelpful behaviours, including procrastination, but here’s a few things I’ve learned recently from other pro’s:

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task. Robert McKee, story guru to the stars, including Peter Jackson and many other high achieving creatives, says it takes 10 years before you can master the craft of writing. Joanna Penn, New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist and author of one of the top 10 blogs for self-publishers, wrote recently of author Blake Crouch’s 10 year journey through different forms of publishing – his Wayward Pines series is now a TV show. 10 seems to be a magic number, just like 3.

 

Think like a pro and be prepared to learn

Think and act and feel like a pro. No one achieves pro status without some sort of apprenticeship. Like any apprentice you have tasks to learn from other experts on the journey to craft mastery.  Joanna Penn, for example attends workshops and learns from other successful people in her field. Other pro’s do the same.

“Excellence of any kind is based upon knowledge,” says Robert McKee. “You have to do research, you have to know what it is you are trying to do. The more you understand what you are trying to do the better you will be at it. The notion you can rely in instinct is foolishness.”

 

Do the work

“Show up, show up and soon the muse shows up too”, says author Isabel Allende. Show up, put your bum on the seat, and put your pen in hand and do the work.  “You can’t actually make a living from writing if you’re not actually writing, ” says Joanna Penn – very wisely! Some authors suggest writing at a set time every day, others advocate for a more flexible approach. Know what works for you and stick to it. Determine the goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s a quota, a set amount of time to write, or a defined task to conquer, determine what you are going to do and stay at work until your done.

 

Write faster

Prolific Amazon best-selling author Steve Windsor, warns against over thinking. Write faster, he says. This is a great way to minimise the internal critic and the perfectionist. They can come out to play later, the main thing is to get down the bones, at least then you’ll have something to work with. If you have no words you have nothing to go back and edit later. Steve Windsor speaks from experience – with nine books out in eight months he knows how to be a writing machine.

 

Practice habit creep

Changing human behaviour is often considered to be one of the hardest things to do in business and in life, writes James Clear.  James studies successful people across a wide range of disciplines — entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and more — to uncover the habits and routines that make these people the best at what they do.

What if,  he asks in a recent newsletter, we trusted that becoming more successful  came as a natural side effect of improving our normal routines? It makes absolute sense that as our normal habits improve so will our successes – whether this is because our daily word count goes up, or we churn out more books over a year, or what ever else we want to achieve.

James Clear has coined the phrase ‘habit creep’  to describe the idea of ‘slightly adjusting your habits until behaviours and results that were once out of reach become your new normal‘.

He advocates two primary ways to change long-term behaviours and improve performance for good:

  1. Increase your performance by a little bit each day. Most people take this to the extreme, he’s says.
  2. Change your environment to remove small distractions and barriers. Most people never think about this.

 

I’ve been implementing many of these strategies to increasing success. I’m breaking the task of finishing a book of fiction into manageable tasks. I’m practising habit creep and writing fast by working in 40 minute intervals of timed writing bursts, followed by 10 minutes of cardio!It’s so important as a writer not to be sedentary.

I’ve also changing location, moving out of the house and into the garden to minimise the distraction created by unlimited WIFI and interruptions at home. Look, even Golden Dream is cheer-leading me on as I write!

Watching podcasts by writing professionals, and joining writing forums and communities of writers with similar aspirations has been fabulous too, tuning up my mindset and providing me with ‘my tribe’ and a sense of belonging.

It’s day one of making these changes in my writing life, but having trained the horses to stop eating the fence in three days by making slow, incremental adjustments to their routine, I’m optimistic that I can create new habits that lasts a lifetime too.

 

Everyone gets obsessed with achieving their very best day—pulling the best score on their test, running their fastest race ever, making the most sales in the department. I say forget that stuff. Just improve your normal day and the results will take care of themselves. We naturally make long-term changes in our lives by slowly and slightly adjusting our normal everyday habits and behaviours.” ~ James Clear

Boost your creativity

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Young woman laying on dry leaves and enjoying life

It’s incredible to believe that seven years have passed and I’ve become more and more distanced from my creative self. As we head into Autumn it’s the perfect time to start shedding old patterns to make way for new habits.

Listed below are just 8 (lucky 8!) of the many creative tools and strategies that have helped me in the past to tap into and boost my creativity – I hope some reasonnate with you.

1. Stress less: Being overwhelmed can put a real dampener on people’s creative ability. Making a commitment to reduce the stressors in your life will help boost your creative juices. Become a creative procrastinator by putting off until tomorrow that which won’t advance your goals today! Meditate to boost your creativity and stress less

2. Diet: Eat well – you’ll have greater physical, mental and emotional energy and be more focused. Knock artificial energizers and stimulants such as caffeine, V’s and alcohol and nicotine on the head (or at least limit your intake). For more energy and creativity up your intake of water, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and B group vitamins.

3. Brainstorm: Unleash ideas you’ve been holding back and generate new ones you never knew you had by tapping into the creative power of brainstorming. Creating some pressure by setting a time limit of 5 minutes or setting a target of 20 new ideas can liberate new ideas and free up old patterns of thinking.

4. See your way to success: Visualization is the creation of a clear mental picture of your goals and life desires. Actively picture in your minds eye your desired outcomes. Imagine or “image” the goal as already realized is a powerful creative technique.

5. Collage: Collect images that capture your goals and aspirations. Preparing an image board or collage and placing it somewhere you will see everyday is a great way to affirm goals and ensure the life you desire is always at the forefront of your mind.

6. Normalise failure: Not allowing room for mistakes is one of the biggest barriers to creativity. Normalise failure by viewing setbacks or mistakes as part of the learning process. Reward yourself for having the courage to try.

7. Learn from the experts: Take a class or invest in some bibliotherapy and learn your way to success. The successes I have had with my art have definitely benefited from attending workshops with top artists like Max Gimblett, Megan Schmidt and Jane Kellahan. I’m doing the same with my writing – I’ve benefitted from great authors and teachers like Karl Englesias and Carol Hughes, and the success of romance authors like Robyn Donald and Daphne Clair and editors like Mary Buckham and Sherry Gottlieb.My photography skills received a major boost when I travelled to Puglia, Italy in 2014 for a workshop with inpirational Carla Coulson.  It’s always inspiring to learn off people who have a passion for what they do and do it well.

8. Collect feedback: boost your creative confidence by noticing what you do well. A good way to do this is to collect unsolicited feedback that you receive from others. I’ll share some of my recent feedback to show you what I mean – I have a special inspirational feedback journal  where I keep comments such as these:

Art

“I saw your beautiful pieces at Thorndon. I recognised them straightaway and loved them sooooooooo much. So did Heather!! They have a strong magnetic pull and for me I just adored them . I found myself in front of one ALL the time.

“I’ve been receiving your inspiring newsletters for some time now and wanted to let you know that I finally saw one of your paintings when my husband and I visited the Affordable Arts Show on Friday. I was busy admiring ‘Whole’ then recognised your name. After seeing your other art works on the website I felt I had to let you know how much I enjoyed them particularly the colours you use and your free flowing style. I would love to come along to your upcoming exhibition. Could you please send me more details nearer to the time?”

“I love it. I really love it.” – Megan Schmidt re abstract “Autumn”

and from the lovely man who brought my award winning Wai art piece love stain,” introducing the “Photographer” who fell in love with your Wai Art Award entry . . . . thank you, R”

All those comments and many more life them make the world of difference to me – it means people have connected with what I do and felt uplifted, happy and positive when my joyfully created works are around. Thanks to this feedback I continue down the path previously less travelled. I can’t encourage you enough to start collecting your own feedback too.”

I’ve done the same with my writing, photography and other creative pursuits. Keeping and reviewing feedback nourishes my creativity.
Writing

“It’s bloody blockbuster material, girl! Great characters, great plot, great conflict and tension and stakes that just keep racheting upwards.”

“I know I threw a lot at you and my greatest fear is that I stop a writer dead in their tracks. That would be horrible. But if I didn’t see the potential in your work and in your story — which is sheer brilliance – I wouldn’t push you so hard. Have fun with the revisions — I know you’ll do a great job!”

 

How this works in practice

If I didn’t take time out to think about my achievements and to replenish I wouldn’t have achieved a fraction of the things I have in my creative and artistic career. Recently I scheduled a block of time and took off to Fiji. Taking this time out helped me stress less and return to my normal life with greater resilience.

Having just purchased a new property, and all the stress that comes with buying and selling and moving etc I’m planning time out again. My soul needs it. By actively investing in myself and my creative skills I’m aiming to  came back super inspired and energized. I’m confident that, rather than push myself with self-imposed deadlines and expectations, by taking some time out I’ll be positively brimming with creative ideas and a whole new sense of joy and colorfulness will emerge in my work – both professional and creative.

So even though I’m not actively creativing right now I am proactively visualizing and planning my next creative journey. I’m collecting and adding photos  other inspiring images to my visual diary and passion journal  to help make my dreams more real. I did they same thing before I went to Maui in 2008 – the last time I felt truly creative following winning the Supreme Art Award and finalling in the The Adam Portrait Award that same year.

 

I’m looking forward to living with passion and creating with joy again and hope you are too. The world needs more happy people.

How to whip writers block and procrastination into shape – take the challenge!

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

This month I’ve been taking part in NaNoWri challenge – 50, 000 words in a month, via the Harlequin site.

Never mind that I started late. I’m there now and clocking up words on my new idea for a romance novel.

Working with a group of like-minded people, even if they are all on-line, is incredibly, incredibly motivating and encouraging.

The other thing that works well for me is rewarding successes – and offering myself bribes.

My first bribe was a scented candle when I reached 10,000 words.

Now my next bribe will be a massage when I’ve made 20,000 words – only (she says optimistically) 6160 words to achieve this reward.

I’d like to achieve by the end of this NaNoWri challenge. So what with four days left that leaves 1540 words a day, maybe 770 in the mornings and the same in the evenings to pace myself. She says have devoured the eBook Daily Rituals (which is a brief analysis of some of the world’s best known and loved authors. A great read – very encouraging on so many levels.

I could stretch it to 25,000 then I’d achieve the huge psychological challenge of attaining the halfway mark to a completed book – but with only four days left and a lot happening in my personal life I don’t want to set myself up to fail.

What are your favourite ways of whipping writers block and/or procrastination into shape?

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