(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 2009

fencingI recently hired a contractor to erect some fences on my property. I did it the right way – I contacted several fencers, and asked for quotes.

The first round was woeful. Some of the fencers didn’t bother to turn up, some didn’t give me a quote after they came and looked. One person gave me a ballpark figure seemingly plucked out of the air (which didn’t give me a feeling of confidence about his competence!).

I got frustrated with all this, and rang a few more fencers. This time I told them that I wasn’t getting any joy from other fencers, and asked if they were reliable, would turn up when they said they would, and would actually give me a quote once they’d turned up. Of course, this lot all said they were reliable, would turn up on time, and would give me a fair quote.

  • The first one didn’t show.
  • The second one didn’t answer his phone.
  • The third one said he’d come  next week, but then I had to chase him three times for the quote.
  • The fourth one said he’d call me.

Then the second one called back. He had missed my call, but did actually call back. He came that afternoon, gave me some advice and wrote out a quote on the spot. Nice! But he was very expensive, and I didn’t feel comfortable with his attitude.

To cut a long story short, I finally hired a fencer, more than two months after I started the process. He had some good ideas, his prices were mid-range, and although he talked a lot, I liked his suggestions.

He rang last week and said he’d be here first thing on Monday morning, i.e. 8:30 am. I rang him at 10:30 on Monday morning to find out where he was. He’d been hung up at the office doing paperwork, but hadn’t bothered to keep me informed.

He finally arrived three hours late, and said that he’d get the posts up for the dog pen that day, and the wire up the next day.

But he and his assistant only spent two hours here on Monday, and there were only two posts in the ground when they knocked off for the day.

The next day, they arrived at 9:30 am and left at 5:30 pm. But every time I looked out the window they appeared to be chatting to each other rather than constructing the fence. They left with all the posts up, but nothing more done.

Today I rushed out to do errands before they were due to come and install the wire. After I got home, I received a phone call to say that his supplier had given him the wrong corner braces (or some essential part), and that they were not in stock, and wouldn’t be here until sometime next week.

Say what?

Why didn’t this contractor, who proclaimed loudly to all and sundry that he is a professional and reliable, CHECK THE SUPPLIES BEFORE HE GOT HERE? Why didn’t he tell me there was a potential problem yesterday, when he discovered the discrepancy?

Okay, there’s another fence he can get on with while we’re waiting for the parts.

But no. He doesn’t have all the bits for that fence yet either.

???????????????????????

Now call me silly, but I really can’t understand why a professional wouldn’t check that a delivery is correct. And why didn’t he check before he got to my place? And why didn’t he say something to me last night when he left, rather than ring me this morning, when I had rearranged my day to be here, and say he won’t be here?

AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Okay.

Deep breath. This happens all the time. But it shouldn’t.

How does this tale of incompetence and woe relate to All Paths to Victory?

Simple.

If you want your business to thrive, you’ve got to make the customer happy.

When you have contracted to provide a service or a product, you need to do everything you can to make the customer happy. You need to make sure that whatever you need to complete the job is delivered on time, and you need to keep the customer informed at all times of progress. I don’t care whether you’re a fencer, a plumber, a builder, a rock star or a trainer, those same rules apply.

You wouldn’t expect to pay for tickets to a rock concert, only to be told when you arrive that the lead guitar has a broken string and there aren’t any replacements available, would you?

So, to be professional you need to ensure that you:

  • keep the customer informed every step of the way
  • turn up when you say you will
  • do the very best job you can
  • make sure that any supplies you need to complete the job are checked when they are delivered, and rectify any problems immediately – the customer should not ever know that your supplier let you down – you should be on top of everything all the time

Expand your network

Something that puzzled me about the fencing contactor is that he appears to use only one supplier. This seems to me to be a potentially dangerous practice.  To keep your business afloat, especially in these economic times, wouldn’t it be a useful thing to expand your network of suppliers and other people who could potentially help your business? You could set up arrangements with other service/product suppliers whereby  you call each other or refer to each other when there is a problem that you can’t fix, or when you have too much work and need a sub-contractor, or simply when someone you meet needs something that can be supplied by someone in your network. Coaches trained at Coach University (as I was) call this the Team 100 Program. (Click here to email me about ways we can work together to create your own Team 100.)

Be ultra-reliable

People don’t give repeat business to people who aren’t reliable. Yes, that’s right, I said people who aren’t reliable. Businesses are made up of people, and if you, as the customer, deal with someone who is incompetent, rude, clueless or unreliable, that gives you the impression that the entire company is like that.

To be ultra-reliable you have to

  • train your staff
  • put failsafe systems into place, so that you can get the supplies you need when you need them or somehow ensure that you provide your customer with the correct service/product on time, every time
  • have a company culture of reliability
  • make the effort to be reliable – as soon as you are unreliable, there goes your entire reputation.

These points apply even if you are a sole trader. It’s sometimes harder to be ultra-reliable when you are a sole trader, which is why you need a Team 100.

What is my opinion of the fencing contractor now? Well, not so good, as you might imagine. So this person has ruined, not only my entire fortnight, but his own reputation. I won’t be recommending him to others.

Bottom line

To be reliable and keep a good reputation in business, you need to go out of your way to make the customer happy. If you’re unsure of how to do this, or you want to create failsafe systems for your business, or if you want to create your own Team 100, email me now.

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

questionGetting everything done isn’t easy when life gets in the way. You have shopping to do, paid work to do, the kids to take to sport, an essay due at university, the washing, the cooking, the ironing, catching the train … the list just goes on and on.

So how do you cope? How do you get everything done properly and on time?

By asking yourself one simple question:

What is the best use of my time right now?

I call it the BUT question.

This one question will guide you to victory. You can apply it to everything:

  • Whether to do this task or that one
  • Whether to make this choice or that one
  • Whether to eat, socialise, work, relax, exercise, sleep, clean up, see the doctor, outsource … you name it.

I have a client at the moment who is in the last stages of writing his PhD thesis. He hired me to get the formatting of the document right. This was a good move, because it freed him up to concentrate on the writing.

But he’s not writing. Although he has outsourced part of the job (the formatting), he’s still obsessing about the part he outsourced (yes – the formatting). He seems to be spending more time on how the final product is going to look than he is on the content of the final product. That’s fine, and every PhD candidate needs to obsess about both the content and the presentation.

But what this person is doing is the equivalent of having a dog and barking too.

He’s already outsourced the formatting. So why is he obsessing about whether the document should be double spaced or not? That’s my job. He hired me to format the document so that it looks outstanding and gives a professional, jaw-dropping first impression to the examiners. I’ve already given him my best professional advice, but he’s still vacillating.

He needs to ask himself what is the best use of his time: either cancel his contract with me to do part of the job; or allow me to do the job he hired me for, and get on with the actual meat of the project himself.

That’s what I mean when I say, what is the best use of your time right now? What is the one thing you can do that will have a positive impact on your project or your goal or your life right now?

Not next week.

Not tomorrow.

Not after lunch.

NOW.

If you get into the habit of asking yourself that question throughout your day, you will become much more productive, efficient and accomplished than you are now.

Try it. You’ll be surprised at the results.

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?

© Gaye Wilson 2008
A system? Not a system! I can’t use systems!

Yes, you can. Systems are invaluable for getting stuff done. They are especially important when you are working to a deadline. They help you plan the project, they tell you what still needs to be done, and they tell you what to do next.

For instance, for the editing project I’ve been talking about in this series (I finished the project, by the way, on time, and the client was ecstatic with my work), my system was:

  • Print out all emails pertaining to the project
  • Start a file for everything related to the project
  • Keep track (see this post)
  • Use checklists
  • File all the stuff when the project is done so that I can refer to it again if necessary (for instance, if the client wants changes or disputes what we’ve agreed, or if I have a similar project in the future). 

Without the system, I don’t know where I’m up to, and I don’t know what is still to be done. Having everything in hard copy in the one place I find is much better than having to boot up my computer to find stuff.

The beauty of this is that, once you’ve figured out a system to get a particular task done, you can use that system again and again for similar tasks. Tweak the system as you go, so that it is the best system for you.

Studies have shown that people who use systems get more done.

So what systems can you come up with?

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