If you are not happy with something, do something different. Make a change. Try another way. But make sure you do it with respect, consideration and information, not blind faith, hero worship or ignorance.

There are many paths to victory. All of them include change.

What will you change?

(c) Gaye Wilson 2014

Image courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com/profile/garwee

Image courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com/profile/garwee

I’ve just come back from the Third Australasian Egyptology Conference, a three-day conference for scholars in the Australasian region to discuss recent research in Egyptology.

I met another independent scholar there, Elizabeth Bettles, and asked her how she keeps up her motivation to do Egyptology, given that she has no academic position.

Her answer was simple: it gives me a buzz.

For Elizabeth, whilst the work in the library is a necessary part of being an Egyptologist, or any scholar for that matter, it’s working in the field – excavating in the Dakhleh Oasis is her current dig project – that gives her the buzz to keep going, and to keep publishing in a discipline she loves.

It can be a lonely thing, being an independent scholar. You have to use your own funds to buy reference materials and equipment, to travel, to attend conferences and to do all the other things that an academic in a university or museum has access to as a matter of course. You have to motivate yourself in the midst of your day-to-day life, and in most cases, unrelated paid work, to go the extra mile and actually do research. You don’t have the regular contact with other minds that people working in your discipline have, and therefore your life tends to lack intellectual stimulation.

It’s HARD to work on your own. That’s why I am a dissertation coach. Working on your own requires intense concentration and fierce determination to succeed. It requires motivation, both external (going to excavations and conferences) and internal (doing the stuff that has to be done but is not quite as exciting).

In order to work on your own, in any endeavour, you need the following:

  • Motivation – a reason to be doing this.
  • A plan – a schedule of what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it, and how it will be achieved.
  • Support – interaction with other people who will inspire and encourage you.
  • A routine – actually making the time to do the work.

Find your buzz. That will make the motivation so much easier.

So what’s your buzz? What motivates you, and how can you get your motivation back when it wavers?

2014© Gaye Wilson 2013

Well, a new year is closing in fast.

What did you accomplish in 2013? Was it all you wanted it to be? Was it a disappointment? Was it awful or awesome?

Did you plan the year, or have New Year’s Resolutions, or did you just let it happen?

So how did that work out for you?

New Year’s Resolutions: good or bad?

There is a lot of literature on the internet about New Year’s Resolutions – how to make them, how to keep them, how many people break them. You can spend lots of money on the newest, latest ways of keeping your resolutions, but realistically, if you’ve failed to keep them in the past, you will likely fail to keep them in the future.

So what to do?

Every year, I make a list of actions I want to accomplish in the next 365 days. (I take a day off in leap years!) I type them up so that they look pretty or impressive or inviting, then print them out and stick them on my refrigerator so that I see them every day.

The fun part comes when I can ceremoniously, or joyously, or relievedly cross them off the list and write the date accomplished.

If I’m really organized, I replace last year’s list with the new year’s list. Sometimes I don’t get to do that – a friend came over last week and noticed my 2012 list on the fridge with some items still waiting to be crossed off. I could put them in the 2014 list, but then I wouldn’t get as much satisfaction when I cross them off if I think they are this year’s list.

Or I could look at 2012′s list and decide if the undone actions are still amongst my priorities. If not, I need to make the deliberate choice to let them go.

Note that the list is of actions, not resolutions. A resolution is not action. Action is action. Perhaps this is why New Year Resolutions don’t work. Perhaps it’s because they are only resolutions, with no actions attached.

Maybe.

If the list you look at every single day is a list of actions, how much easier is that to accomplish than a vague-sounding resolution?

This year I will lose weight.

This year I will save money.

This year I will change jobs.

This year I will go to the gym more.

Those aren’t actions. They are not even goals. They are a list of things you think you should do. They are the top level of decision making. What you need is a whole plan, a strategy, to accomplish all of those items on the list.

The hierarchy goes something like this:

  • Resolution – This year I will lose weight.
  • Goal – By December 31 I will weigh xxx pounds/kilos.
  • Strategy – Four-pronged attack on the goal: mindset, diet, exercise, accountability.
  • Take action

Know your what. Know your why. Know your how. Know your when.

2014

So what will make your 2014 better than your 2013?

What do you need in the next 12 months to make you happier, healthier, wealthier, more fulfilled than you were in 2013?

What do you need to do to make 2014 awesome?

May 2014 be all that you need it to be.

nevergiveup© Gaye Wilson 2013

Well, I finished my Russian diploma in 2011, and started a new language: Italian. As with the Russian, I am learning it by distance, which means that I do not attend classes.

The way distance learning works is that you log onto a web site where all the materials are, including recordings of the lectures. It is up to the student to listen to all the recordings, do all the reading, and submit all the assignments on time.

Is this hard? Yes it is, especially when you are learning a foreign language.

The first year of Italian gave me a good grounding in the language, approximately equal to matriculation level from high school. This year, Intermediate Italian, is proving to be harder. Why? Because the lectures are given in Italian!

At the end of my first year of Italian, I found that I could read simple Italian fairly well, or at least could get the gist of it. But I could not speak it, write it easily, or understand anything said at normal speed.

Hmm. Some more work needed.

As I said, this year the lectures are conducted in Italian. That will help with understanding the spoken word. I am finding that it’s not as hard as I expected, and I suspect that I have one advantage over the people who actually attend the classes: I can stop the audio and look up words or make notes, and not miss anything.

So I am pleased that this year will address one of my issues with the language: the spoken word.

One of the other major problems I have with this project is that I cannot write Italian very well. Or at least, not without spending ages looking up words, conjugations and grammatical structures.

This, too, is being addressed this year. This semester we are buddied up with other students and are required to conduct email conversations with them throughout the semester, with a minimum total of 200 words.

Now, I have a problem with this. Yes, it’s giving me practice in writing Italian. But no, it’s not giving me feedback from a native speaker and I don’t get my mistakes corrected. I have asked my buddy to correct my Italian if she sees mistakes, and I do the same for her.

But my BIGGEST problem with this course is the other distance students. They are whingers. They complain that it’s all too hard. My original email buddy decided it was too hard to learn the language by distance, even though she comes from an Italian family and can practise on them.

What??

It really bothers me that there are people who embark on a new project, such as learning a language, starting a business, or doing a PhD, who then complain that it’s too hard.

Listen up, people.

It’s supposed to be hard.

A past Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, once said “Life is not meant to be easy.” Hmm. I’m not sure of the philosophy, but in a way he was right. Life is hard for many people, but the ones who accept it and forge ahead anyway are the ones who are successful.

Change your language. Instead of saying ‘It’s too hard!”, say “It’s hard! YAYYY! That means I get to stretch myself, overcome some obstacles, and learn a lot.”

Changing your inner language is important, because it is the only way you will be able to change yourself.

When something is hard, celebrate that you are attempting something that is hard for you, and work out how to accomplish it.

Make a plan.
Ask for help.
Stretch yourself.
And never ever give up.

© Gaye Wilson 2012

Ninety years ago this week, on 6th November 1912, archaeologist Howard Carter stumbled upon some steps leading down to a hitherto unknown royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

It was the tomb of Tutankhamun, an Egyptian king who died while in his late teens.

The discovery was a turning point in the history of Egyptology. It showed the richness of tomb goods that were provided for royalty in ancient Egypt. Up until then, royal tombs had been plundered of their wealth long before they were discovered by archaeologists.

Whilst this is all very exciting, the point of this post is not the riches that Carter found, nor the notoriety that followed the discovery. The point I want to make here is that Carter was broke, and nearly at the end of his time in Egypt. He had spent several years coming the Valley of the Kings trying to find an undiscovered tomb, with no success.

But he didn’t quit.

He didn’t give up.

He kept looking, and finally found the tomb that made his name.

If you want something badly enough, never EVER give up.

References you might like to read about the discovery of Tutankhamun:


© Gaye Wilson 2010

I went to put my dogs in their day pens this morning, and stopped short. On the ground at the bottom of a tree in one of the pens was something unexpected. I moved closer and saw the most wonderful lizard, motionless, staring up the tree trunk.

Needless to say I didn’t put the dog in there. Either the dog or the lizard would have had a very bad day.

I knew I had seen this type of lizard before, but certainly not in my back yard! I googled images of Australian lizards, and fond out that he is a Bearded Dragon. He’s about a foot and a half long, and covered in the most wonderful knobbly scales and spikes.

He’s gorgeous!

Now, what does this have to do with All Paths To Victory, or productivity?

Not a lot, you might think.

However, seeing this dragon in my garden has lifted my whole day. I found something new and unexpected in an otherwise ordinary day. I took time out to take photographs and enjoy the beauty. I learned something (this type of dragon originated in the deserts of central Australia, but is now a popular pet all over. This one is most definitely NOT a pet!).

I didn’t take time out to smell the roses – I took time out to enjoy a wild creature.

How can you enjoy beauty today?

© Gaye Wilson 2009

Image by pongsterToday is my father’s birthday. If he had lived, he would have been 83. Although he has been gone for three and a half years, I saw something that he would have liked the other day, and for an instant thought about buying it for him for Christmas. Then I remembered. And I felt like I had lost him all over again.

When someone dies, the world loses. The family loses. Friends and loved ones lose the opportunity to be with that person, to talk to them, laugh with them, confide in them, advise them and find out what they know. The person’s entire knowledge banks and memories are lost – unless they were preserved in some way – books, photos, diaries, blogs even.

Have you seen the movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson called The Bucket List? I watched it on DVD last week. It’s about two men with terminal cancer who write a list of things they want to do before they die. And then they go out and do them. Both of them waited until they were dying to do some things they had wanted to do all their lives.

Why wait to do what you want?

When you are dying, it’s probably too late. If you’re dying of a disease, you might not be well enough to climb a mountain or learn a new language. If you die suddenly, it’s definitely too late.

Every day you are alive is a gift. Don’t let it pass you by.

A friend sent me a message from the Dalai Lama today. It says exactly what I wanted to say in this post, so I have quoted it here:

**

Today we have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences but less time.

We have more degrees but less common sense, more knowledge, but less judgement.

We have more experts but more problems, more medicine but less wellness.

We spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, stay up too late, read too little, watch too much TV and pray too seldom.

We’ve multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too little, and lie too often.

More leisure and less fun … more kinds of foods … but less nutrition …two incomes but more divorce …fancier houses, but broken homes.

That’s why I propose that, as of today, you do not keep anything for a special occasion, because every day you live is a special occasion.

Search for knowledge.

Read more.

Sit on your front porch and admire the view without paying attention to your needs.

Spend more time with your family and friends, eat your favourite foods, and visit the places you love.

Life is a chain of moments of enjoyment, not only about survival.

Use your crystal goblets, do not save your best perfume, and use it every time you feel you want it.

Remove from your vocabulary phrases like “one of these days” and “someday”.

Let’s write that letter we thought of writing “one of these days”.

Let’s tell our family and friends how much we love them.

Do not delay anything that adds laughter and joy to your life.

Every day, every hour, and every minute is special.

And you don’t know if it will be your last.

If you’re too busy to make the time to send this message to someone you love, and you tell yourself you will send it “one of these days”,

BELIEVE ME

one of these days you may not be here to send it.

**

The Dalai Lama nailed it, didn’t he?

I would add one thing to what the Dalai Lama said.

Make a legacy. Don’t let your knowledge and memories die with you. Leave something of yourself behind.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

hand“If you don’t know [what's wrong, what you've done, why I'm upset/angry], I’m not going to tell you!”

Has anyone ever said that to you?

How did you feel?

My usual response to this exceptionally stupid statement is “What the …?”

A couple of weeks ago, someone left an organisation that I’m involved with because she had some issues with how it was being run. That’s fine, but the person had never given any indication before her resignation that she was not happy. The remaining members of the organisation were left scratching their heads in bewilderment. What did we do? How could this have been resolved? And more importantly, why didn’t the person say something????

It’s like being told “If you don’t know, I’m certainly not going to tell you!”.

What a stupid thing to say. I’m not, nor do I know anyone who is, a mindreader. I can’t know what you are thinking unless you actually say it. Why do people do this? I actually heard a senior executive say this to a subordinate one day. Say what? An executive telling a junior that she’s not happy about something the junior has done/not done, but won’t say what it was? How crazy is that?

I used to be a Conflict Resolution Trainer with the Conflict Resolution Network. One of the first principles of conflict resolution is to actually address the problem. No-one will know there is a problem unless someone says something. Problems cannot be fixed unless they are addressed.

It would have been much more productive for everyone if the person who left the organisation had said something to someone about how she was feeling. Then the person responsible for the behaviour that caused the distress could respond. No one knows how someone else is feeling. No one knows for sure what else is going on in someone else’s life. There may have been only one instance of the issue, or several different issues. It may have been because the person who unwittingly caused the distress was having a bad day, or was under a lot of stress, or was distracted, or was simply misunderstood. No one will ever know, because the issue was not addressed.

The bottom line is that conflict can often be handled well if the distressed person actually says what is wrong.

How many times have you done or said the equivalent of “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you”?

Don’t you think there is a better way?

Speak up if there’s something bothering you. You’ll never get resolution if you don’t actually address the issue.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

healthyI woke up feeling fantastic this morning. I don’t remember the last time I did that. I’m up and rarin’ to go. Can’t wait to start the day.

This is very unusual for me. I have a chronic illness, which I’ve had since 1995. It seems that it’s not going to go away. So when I wake every morning it’s more a case of asking myself what doesn’t hurt, and how can I drag myself through the day without hurting more.

What’s different today? Yesterday I started a course of antibiotics. When I’m on antibiotics, I always feel fantastic. The difference between how I feel on antibiotics and how I feel normally is phenomenal. I’m two completely different people.

Feeling fantastic means that I accomplish more. Everything I do is faster, better and easier. My mind is clearer. My body can last longer.

When I’m feeling healthy, I am the person I want to be.

When I’m unhealthy (which is most of the time), everything is hard. I still get stuff done, I still accomplish my work and my goals, but it takes far more effort, it takes longer, and I have to work in short snatches.

You can get so used to feeling off that you don’t realise how much it’s affecting you.

Even minor ailments have an impact on your performance.

I’m not the only one who has found this out the hard way. Here are some more examples.

One of my PhD Coaching clients suffered terribly from headaches. When she was given the correct treatment, the headaches went away and she surged forward with her dissertation. She had not realised how much her life and performance were affected by her headaches.

Another of my PhD Coaching clients had dental problems. She was in pain, but didn’t realise that it was affecting her performance. I encouraged her to get it checked out, and lo and behold, when the problem was fixed, she felt fantastic and finished her PhD earlier than expected.

You can do everything when you’re healthy. If you’re unhealthy, it takes a lot more effort and a lot longer to do things.

So make sure you are as healthy as you can possibly be:

  • eat the right things, and in moderation
  • do the right amount and type of exercise
  • drink lots of pure water
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • get sufficient sleep
  • get a medical checkup
  • get a dental checkup
  • have fun
  • create a support or social network
  • maintain a life/work balance

It will make a world of difference to your outlook, your accomplishments and your life.

I’m not saying here that unhealthy people can’t perform and can’t accomplish their goals. I pull out all stops when I have a deadline to meet in my editing business, but it usually leaves me drained. The author of the book-turned-into-blockbuster-movie Sea Biscuit had the same condition that I have, and she wrote the book while flat on her back in bed. A colleague of mine recently attended the launch of her new local history book in a wheelchair – she also has this condition.

So unhealthy people can perform and produce, but it’s much harder. People with ill health have to work harder to accomplish the same as healthy people,and it takes a heavier toll.

Victories happen faster and easier when you’re healthy.

So get healthy.

What can you do this week to boost your health?

where© Gaye Wilson, 2009

This blog talks about ways to win your victory, but so far it hasn’t talked about what your victory is.

What is your victory?

It is your goal, your desire, your dream, your fantasy. It’s what you want in life. It’s what you want to do or accomplish. It’s your current project. It’s what motivates you to get up in the morning. It’s that thing you’ve always wanted since you were a child.

It’s your reason for being.

Everyone has goals. Everyone has dreams. And everyone has projects. All of them are different, but all have a desired end result.

That’s your victory. Your desired end result.

So what is your desired end result? Do you want to lose weight? Learn a language? Complete a doctorate? Or do you simply want to clean up your garage or start a garden?

In order to win your victory, you first need to know what that victory will look like. How will you recognise it when you achieve it? What exactly is it that you want? What specifically is your desired result?

Once you know that, you also need to know how you will accomplish it. This means thinking about the steps you need to take. Break it down into doable actions. Think the process through, walk through it in your mind, on paper, with others, or using a project management program. Try not to miss any vital steps.

With your list of actions in hand, you can then set about completing those actions.

One last thing. You probably need to put a timeframe on it. I say probably, because not all victories are timebound. You might want to be happy – how does one put a timeframe on that?

So then what? You do it! And when you’ve completed all the tasks on your list of actions, voila! There’s your victory.

tcsbookI discuss plans and action strategies further in my chapter of Top Coaches Share Their Personal Action Strategies. You might like to click on the link and check out the book.

So, what’s your victory, and how do you plan to achieve it?

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