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?

1105359  © Gaye Wilson 2013

 Do you browse the internet for hours at a time?

I have been known to do so.

And at the end of the day, I’m tired and annoyed with myself. Typically, I don’t have much to show for the day, except more stuff on my hard drive that I’ll probably never look at.

I’m trying something new today. It’s a log of what I do, as I do it.

I’ve opened a new Word document (a text document would do, or a spreadsheet – I used to use a spreadsheet for work) with the title ‘What I did today’ and the date. And under the heading, I have typed everything I have done, each item on a separate line.

For example:

  • I paid a membership.
  • I took photos for some items I want to sell on ebay.
  • Contacted Canon for help with a printer problem.
  • Filed some receipts.
  • Did some online surveys.
  • Coached a client.
  • Sent out some overdue emails (listed on separate lines).
  • Etc.

I have found this to be a really exhilarating exercise. It shows how I have spent my time. It has kept me focused on important tasks rather than mindless surfing. It has motivated me to do more and cross items off my to-do list. It makes me feel good. I have actually accomplished a lot of little tasks today that have been hanging around undone for ages.

If I was honest with myself, and did this on a day that I was surfing for hours, I would paste the urls, so that I could look back on the day and see if any of the surfing was actually useful. I tend to lose track of where I’ve surfed, even when I’m doing useful surfing.

The other important thing is that this process has forced me to pay attention to what I am actually doing, and I am conscious of my actions to the point where I don’t want to be mindless. In order to make today’s tally look as if I have had a productive day, I am tending to look at websites for specific information, deal with it, close the tab and move on to the next item on my list, rather than spending many more minutes browsing the site just for interest.

It’s self-regulating. I know I will be self-reporting my actions, so I do actions that are worth reporting!

I know there are programs out there that will record what sites you visit (such as Surfwatcher:  http://surferwatcher.software.informer.com/ ) or time trackers (such as True Time Tracker: http://true-time-tracker.software.informer.com/) [neither of which I have used, by the way, and there are many more out there], but for today I have found that manually recording my actions has had a regulating effect on me. I am conscious of what I am doing, I am consistently looking for the next action to take rather than drifting through the day, and I am in the moment.

Win/win/win.

I’m so much more productive today.

What strategies do you use to keep yourself on track and off the internet?

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.

© Gaye Wilson 2010

image by fangolI’ve been frustrated recently with my lack of technical knowledge about downloading from the internet. I signed up for an online course that provided the lessons in streaming video and streaming audio. When I signed up, I understood that I would be getting downloadable files and transcripts. Not so. Everything is streaming.

I tend to work offline far more than online. I like to download stuff, copy it to my laptop, and deal with it wherever I happen to be, rather than be chained to my internet computer.

So it is exceptionally frustrating when I have paid for something that can’t be downloaded. A search of the internet to find a way to download streaming files didn’t find anything useful. I really wanted to download these particular files, because I paid a lot of money for the course and the presenter was not willing to change the format although he originally promised to do so (note to readers: if you offer anything, you MUST pay attention to your customers’ requirements and requests – this guy didn’t do that, and now I have a bad impression of him and his business).

I had downloaded a free program called Audacity before, for another project, but never could get it to work correctly (I told you I’m technically challenged in some areas!). Using Audacity, I could record the stream, but the recording was so soft that I couldn’t actually hear it, even with the volume as high as it will go.

So I started to search online for tutorials on how to set up and use Audacity to download streaming files (since the literature on this program says it will do that). One tutorial suggested a free recorder if you can’t get Audacity to work, so I checked it out.

It’s wonderful!

The program is called Freecorder, and it works as a toolbar in your browser, so I’m thinking it’s probably cross platform (although I’m not 100% sure of that).

The tutorial that mentioned Freecorder suggested that you download Freecorder 3, because it gives you choices about the file format you want to record to. So I downloaded and installed Freecorder 3, and immediately struck problems.

First, Firefox wouldn’t install it, because it doesn’t have valid updating files (or something like that).

So I tried it in Internet Explorer, which installed it just fine, and appeared after I closed IE and then opened it again.

But when I tried to record something, it threw me into an update page for Freecorder – every time. With a sigh, I downloaded Freecorder 4.

The sigh wasn’t justified. Within seconds, I had Freecorder 4 installed and recording streaming audio as an mp3 file. Who cares about whether the mp3 format is lossy or not? It did what I needed it to do!

Freecorder doesn’t seem to have a lot of tweaks available: the Settings panel doesn’t have a lot to it. But it’s easy to use, and it works. Apparently you can also use it to record videos, although I haven’t tried it for that.

Freecorder will record whatever is audible from the computer, so if you talk while the Record button is pressed, it records your voice. That’s handy when you want to make a short note to yourself, or if you have trouble writing and can speak it easier than write it. Or you could record yourself singing a song, or whatever. I saw a YouTube video that showed how it will also record two things at once: I haven’t tried that with Freecorder 4, and I suspect the YouTube video is talking about Freecorder 3, but it probably still does it – cool, huh?

Of course, the program has limitations. As I said above, the settings are minimal (made to be idiot-proof, perhaps?). You don’t get a chance to say where you want the resulting mp3 files to go for each download: in the Settings panel you nominate where to put them and that’s it. If you wanted to change the destination folder, you’d have to go into the Settings panel each time. There are probably other limitations of which I am not yet aware: I only discovered it this morning.

Disclaimers

  1. Please note that I am not advocating downloading copyrighted streaming audio or video if you do not have a right to do so. If you do, that’s piracy and it’s illegal worldwide. I downloaded these files because I had paid for them.
  2. I have no affiliation with this program or its creators. I am posting this simply because I found something that gave me a solution to a problem. Your mileage may vary.
  3. I have no idea what else is out there that will do this job. I found this one, it works, I like it.

If you know of something similar, please let us know with a comment.

© 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?

I first met the work of Gary Ryan Blair when I was in the middle of my PhD candidature. He has some cool gadgets and suggestions for achievement.

Now he’s running a 100 Day Challenge to finish the year with a Big Bang.  Have a look at this video:

Here’s some more about Gary Ryan Blair’s 100 Day Challenge:

Change Your Life in 100 Days

What if I were to follow you with a camera crew 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the next 100 days while you went for your goals?

I bet three things would happen…

1. You would START doing the things you say you need to do.

2. You would STOP doing the things you know you shouldn’t be doing.

3. You would MAKE monumental performance gains and change your life.

This is ALL possible through the discipline of accountability. Accountability serves and protects your character, credibility and commitments. It ensures that what you want to accomplish gets accomplished. (That’s what personal coaching is all about: accountability.)

Throughout every area of your life it’s important to understand that ALL unfinished goals, projects and relationships are the result of broken promises, unfulfilled commitments, and lack of accountability.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you an exciting opportunity to achieve every goal you set, to enforce ultimate accountability into your life, and show you how you can make monumental performance gains. I’ve signed up, and I’m excited to get started.

Gary Ryan Blair, otherwise known as The Goals Guy, has put together a fantastic comprehensive approach to goal setting and performance enhancement.

It’s called the 100 Day Finish Strong Challenge and it begins on September 23rd, which happens to be the final 100 days of the year.

The 100 Day Finish Strong Challenge is a structured 14-week performance improvement program where challengers compete against themselves to achieve a number of challenging goals and finish the year strong.

Free Special Report and Video

Gary is offering a powerful special report for free which is titled: How to Create Your Own Big Bang!

This report is worth its weight in gold as it shows you how to create huge performance gains quickly. I encourage you to get your copy right now.

So what are you waiting for? The clock is ticking and if you want to seriously improve your life and corresponding results, I encourage you to check out the 100 Day Finish Strong Challenge today as it will be one of the smartest decisions you’ll make all year.

I’m in it. How about you?

© Gaye Wilson 2009

Image by ilcoWhat could you do with one extra hour?

  • Sleep in?
  • Watch television?
  • Play a computer game?

Or could you

  • Read a book?
  • Walk the dog?
  • Write a letter?

How about:

  • Work on your business plan.
  • Write out your goals.
  • Have quality time with your family.

There are many activities you can do in an hour. An extra hour per day would allow you to do many extra activities, so it would be a good thing, right?

But where do extra hours come from?

Take a look at the first list above. These are activities that you could curtail to find an extra hour. These are passive activities. They are about being, rather than doing. They don’t necessarily have a purpose. They just are. They are often default actions when we are too lazy to do something constructive.

The second list contains active activities. Like the first list, they are ego-centric – centred around you. Unlike the first list, they have a purpose. You walk the dog so that both of you benefit from exercise. You read a book to relax or learn something. You write a letter to communicate with someone. These activities are about the present. They are good to fit into your day.

The third list is also an active list, but this one contains activities that are all about the future.

When was the last time you sat down and planned your future?

If you’re like most people, you haven’t. Most people drift through life and wonder why it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Those who revel in life and accomplish what they want in life are those who plan their future.

Victories are planned.

So, this week, to gain your victory, find an extra hour to do some planning.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

Image by PocketAces http://www.sxc.hu/photo/658728Yesterday I attended the annual Egyptology conference at the Australian Centre for Egyptology. As always, the atmosphere, the people, and above all, the images in the lectures, got me all fired up. I love Egyptology. I always have. That’s why I earned a PhD in the subject.

And I want to be in the discipline – badly.

But I haven’t yet published my PhD thesis. And I haven’t found the Access database programmer I need to set up the prosopographical database I want for further research (any database whizzes reading this post?).

And wanting something does not equate with having it. To have what you want, you need to make it happen. You need to do it.

Okay, what have I done in Egyptology in the seven years since I got the PhD?

Not a lot. A bit, but not a lot.

Why?

Because I’ve been dealing with other things. Since I graduated I have become a qualified coach, started a coaching and editing business, created seven websites, learned how to sew, earned qualifications in desktop publishing, small business management, leadership and frontline management, and started to learn my ninth foreign language. I’ve also been coping with other things like ill health, the need to earn money (I can’t get a job in Egyptology – there aren’t any available ones), dealing with parent illness and death, maintaining a house and garden, and simply … well, living. So I haven’t been idle – far from it – but I haven’t done much in one of my great passions, Egyptology, either.

So this year, when I attended the conference, I got enthused all over again, as I do every year. But this time it will be different. I will actually do something about it this year. This is how I’m going to do it.

Formulate a goal
I’m going to decide exactly what I will have accomplished in Egyptology by this time next year: my goal.

List all commitments
I’m going to make a list of all the projects I have on my plate, so that I know exactly what I am doing.

Decide the priority of those commitments
Making the list is the first step to seeing how much available time I have. Rather than allowing the list to just sit there, I also need to prioritise each commitment. Which ones need to be done first, in order to reach my five-year goals? Which ones can be done in the next three months? Which ones cannot be delayed?

Decide what to cut
If I have too many projects, I won’t be able to do justice to any of them. Or I will concentrate on one or two and the others will go by the wayside (that’s exactly what’s been happening with Egyptology for the past seven years). If I can’t do all the projects at the same time, I need to decide, according to my prioritised list (see above), which projects I will temporarily (or permanently – it does happen) drop in order to achieve something with a higher priority.

Figure out what I need to do to achieve my goal
There’s no point in starting a project without knowing what steps are required to complete it. For every goal you need to work out what you need to do, and in what order.

Decide how I am going to spend my time in order to achieve my goal
Making lists and prioritising them won’t get the jobs done. I actually have to do them. The only way to do them, apart from listing them in the first place, is to schedule them.

Enlist help
I need to tell other people what my goals are, and ask for their help. I can join an online goal setting club, or post my intentions on my blog (doing that now!). Hire a coach. Invite friends to create their own action schedules, and create a mastermind group to support all of us. I can join a 30-day or 100-day Challenge. However it’s done, I need support.

Do it!
So I’ve made a goal, listed what’s on my plate, prioritised my commitments, decided what to cut or pull back on, listed what needs to be done, scheduled actions and enlisted support. What’s left? Actually doing it. There’s no point in making all these lists and schedules if action does not happen. I can schedule by month, by week, by day. I’m going to make a loose list of items to accomplish in the next month, divide it into weeks, and then schedule only three major actions each day. Then I’m going to do those actions, come hell or high water.

So.

I want Egyptology in my life. I want to actually DO Egyptology, not just read about it or dream about it or sigh over it. So now I have to actually do something about it. Somehow I have to fit it into my schedule.

The tagline for my coaching website, PhDSuccess.com, says it all: “focus on the actions that will achieve your goals”.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

Image by Dora PeteI’m feeling guilty.

Why?

Let me count the ways.

  • Because I haven’t blogged for two weeks.
  • Because I haven’t replied to a lovely comment about my blog (thanks, Georganna!).
  • Because I haven’t finished updating one of my websites.
  • Because I didn’t do much last week.

Last week was a write off for me. I overdid it on Saturday, clearing a bit of my garage – it looks lovely! – and I paid for it in the following days. But I kept paying for it, not necessarily physically, but mentally and emotionally. I couldn’t motivate myself. I found myself doing, as I used to do, research on the internet that I knew I would probably never read (gotta schedule that in!). And I was kicking myself the entire time. I knew what I had to do, but I wasn’t doing it.

Have you ever had a week like that? You feel worthless and useless and a complete idiot. You’re in a funk, you get depressed, you take it out on the people around you. You’re in a landscape of misery.

And you feel physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually horrible.

So how do you get yourself out of that?

Most of my coaching clients have this problem at one time or another. I think most people do. There are several things you can do about it.

1. Stop beating yourself up about it.
Part of the horrible feeling is that you are beating yourself up for not doing what you think you should be doing. Beating yourself up leads to all sorts of awful things, including self-loathing, emotional eating and paralysis. Beating yourself up doesn’t work. It just makes you feel worse. So stop it, and do one of the items on the list below (these will also help you stop it).

2. Do something. Anything.
Sometimes the only thing that will get you out of a funk, whether it’s a depressive funk or a I-can’t-move-forward funk, is to do something. Anything. Take some sort of action. Get up and do some star jumps. Walk the dog. Scream. Eat ice cream.

3. Make a list.
Do you know what you should be doing or do you make it up as you go along? Lists are very helpful tools. Make a list of what you want to accomplish today or this week. Pick one item and do it, then cross it off the list. This can give you a huge boost. Don’t forget to pick another one and work on it!

4. Clear a space.
De-cluttering is liberating. It can also be messy, dirty and a lot of fun (see #10). Clear a space on your desk or your floor. Throw out papers you no longer need. Give old clothes, furniture and books to charity. You’ll feel a lot better, your space will be nicer, and you will have helped someone else (see #9).

5. Ask for help.
Talk to someone about what you’re feeling and what you’re doing (or not doing). Talk to a friend, a family member, a colleague, a coach. Ask them to help you get out of it. Ask them to support you in doing something productive. Set up a temporary accountability to them. Note: If you are continually doing nothing and feeling depressed and miserable, you may need professional help.

6. Do something completely different.
Change your situation radically by doing something that is not related to what you should be doing, or something that you don’t normally do. Jolt yourself into action.

7. Change your focus.
Sometimes all you need is to change what you are thinking about. Look at the problem in a different way. Say to yourself, okay, I’m currently doing this and feeling awful about it. What would happen if I did or thought this instead? Focus on something or someone else for a while. Pet your dog. Play with a child. Pick up a different project and make some progress on it.

8. Exercise.
Exercise induces chemicals in the brain that help with mood. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Ask a friend to go horse riding with you. Okay, it may not be what you should be doing, but it will make you feel better, and will elevate your mood. GET UP AND MOVE.

9. Help someone else.
Go down to the local soup kitchen and offer your services for an hour or two. Knit a blanket for the homeless. Visit a friend. Donate to charity (see #4). Helping someone else will take your mind off your own troubles, and when you return, they might not seem so insurmountable.

10. Have some fun.
What floats your boat? Reading? Going to a movie? Ten pin bowling? Hanging out with friends? Pick one simple activity that will give you some fun. It will lift your mood, get you away from your funk-place, and will give you a break.

11. Or you can wallow in your funk.

Your choice.

My chapter in Top Coaches Share their Action Strategies also gives some useful ideas on how to take action.

Guess what?

Now I’ve written a blog post, I feel better about myself. I’ve actually done something that’s on my list, I’ve taken action, I’ve cleared some clutter in my brain, and I’m ready to get back to doing what needs to be done.

See? It works!

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