© 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!

© 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?

writingLots of people have to write for their work or study. Lots of people also have trouble writing. Here are some ideas that my coaching clients have used successfully to get themselves writing consistently.

Writing ideas

When you don’t know what you want to say, make an outline.

  • Write, in point form, the main ideas you want to talk about.
  • Flesh out each point.
  • Use a note taking program such as Turbo Note or Jot Plus, or a mind map program, or even index cards, to write out your points, and then move them around so that the argument makes sense.
  • Take one point and write as much as you can about it, then take a break, and pick another point and do the same.

When nothing is coming – i.e. you forget what you want to say, you can’t think of anything to say, the blank screen mirrors your blank mind – there are several things you can do:

Audio

  • Talk to a friend. Record what you say. Get the friend to ask questions that will elicit more information.
  • Get an audio recorder and talk about your topic. Then make a transcript, and use that as your first draft.

Visual
Make a mind map. Take a large sheet of paper, and draw your theme. Stick it up on your wall.

Timing
Commit to a ridiculously small amount of time per day, yes, per day, to write. Say eight minutes. Commit to writing eight minutes each day. The eight minutes can be spread out over the day, but you must write for eight minutes (or whatever time you pick). When you have done it, you then have a choice: to either keep going, or knock off for the day.

This technique sounds silly, but it works. My clients often have trouble even committing to eight minutes a day, but within a week they find that they are writing for far more than eight minutes.

Figure out the best time of the day for your writing. We all have different rhythms. Some people write best at 5am. Some people write best at 3pm. Experiment with the times you attempt to write. You will probably find that one time of the day is better for your creative flow than others. I have found that I write better blog posts early in the morning, and they flow easier than if I try to write them after lunch.

Editing

When you are editing something you have already written, try some of these:

  • Read it out loud. If it doesn’t flow, your ears will hear it.
  • Take it one sentence at a time.
  • Check that the first sentence of each paragraph actually talks about what the paragraph is about.
  • Ask yourself if each paragraph flows from the one before it.

Concentrate on one thing to edit at a time, e.g.

  • Are all the tenses in the paragraph the same?
  • Do you have periods at the end of each sentence?
  • Does each sentence make sense and flow on from the previous one?
  • Is there a better word that you could use?

If you’re having trouble writing or editing your work, email me.

If you have other techniques that have worked for you, please leave a comment.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

© Gaye Wilson 2009

What’s that you say? Practical Vladimir sits cheerfully preening seven vampires? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT????

Let me explain.

As I’ve posted before, I’m learning Russian. When studying for my most recent exam, I realised that I still didn’t know the days of the week as well as I wanted to. I kept getting Monday and Sunday mixed up, and I wasn’t too cluey about Friday and Wednesday.

So I thought about what I’ve done previously to learn something that was elusive. I remembered the technique I used in this post, which is to create a sentence using the initial letters of the words I want to remember.

So I thought about the Russian days of the week, and quickly came up with a ridiculous sentence that is not easily forgotten. Practical Vladimir Sits Cheerfully Preening Seven Vampires.

Monday = Понедельник = Practical
Tuesday = Вторник = Vladimir
Wednesday = Среда = Sits
Thursday = Четверг = Cheerfully
Friday = Пятница = Preening
Saturday = Суббота = Seven
Sunday = Воскресенье = Vampires

Can you see Vladimir? Do you have a picture of him in your mind? I do. Actually, the initial draft of this mnemonic sentence didn’t have Vladimir being practical. It had him as something else which made the mental image even more unforgettable, but the dictionary says the word is ‘informal, rude’, so I thought I should probably not put it up in a blog post.

Anyway, as with the previous post about mnemonic helps for learning the Russian case endings, this sentence is based on the initial sounds of the Russian days of the week.

How can you use this technique for learning a new language, or a new subject? Leave a comment about how you have used this technique, plus your mnemonic sentences, so that other people can learn quicker.

© Gaye Wilson 2009

There are two dogs in our family, Meri and Gypsy. Both dogs are elderly, and they have totally different personalities. Watching and interacting with them is a joy, and very interesting in terms of not just animal behaviour, but human behaviour as well.

meriMeri is nearly 15 years old. She’s been an outside dog all her life. She has to sniff everything. Food offered by someone other than me must be thoroughly but politely sniffed before she will accept it. She starts to yell for dinner about an hour before it’s time. She sleeps a lot. But her most interesting behaviour is her procrastination.

Gypsy is about 11 years old. She, too, has been an outside dog all her life. She loves to run, and dig, and loves to cuddle. Her biggest achievement is to make everyone who meets her fall in love with her on the spot. She’s an action dog – once she knows what she wants, she does whatever is needed to accomplish it.

Both dogs live outside, but in wet or cold weather they are put into dog crates in the garage to keep them warm and dry. They are, after all, old ladies.

When I come to collect Meri to put her inside, she knows what’s coming and is waiting for me. But she insists that we are going for a walk, and invariably overshoots the doorway into the garage. It’s only with coaxing and pulling that I can get her inside (often when it’s freezing and raining, and I’m getting cold and wet too!). That’s not where her procrastination stops. She must sniff everything in the garage, to avoid going into the crate. When we finally arrive at the crate, she will go past it, or attempt to go backwards, or even, cunningly, ask for a cuddle in order to delay the inevitable. When I can finally get her to put her front paws in the crate, she procrastinates even further by sniffing every inch of the crate before she puts her entire body inside enough for me to close the door. The whole performance is classic procrastinatory avoidance behaviour.

gypsyGypsy, on the other hand, waits impatiently for me to come and get her, then hauls me towards the garage at full speed and makes a beeline for the door. Once the door is cracked open, her nose is immediately stuck in the gap to open the door faster, then she scurries inside, races for the crate, barrels inside, and turns around to grin at me. She’s where she wants to be. Mission accomplished, and in the shortest time possible.

Both dogs know what the end result will be. Both dogs are happy when they finally get there. But one dog will do anything to avoid the end result until it’s impossible to avoid it any longer, and the other goes straight for the goal.

Does this sound familiar?

Which dog are you? The one who will do anything to avoid action that will result in the end goal, or the one that goes for it in the fastest way possible? The first one provides endless frustration amongst everyone around her, but still ends up in the same place in the end. The other is a joy to work with, and accomplishes the goal with speed and focus.

So which one are you?

best-coaching-blogs-20091This blog is entered in the Best Coaching Blogs of 2009 competition, and has lasted for the first two rounds. Of 45 blogs that started the competition, only 20 are left.

Thanks to all who have visited and voted and commented.

But this blog currently has only 13 votes and 5 comments, compared to the winning blog, which has 297 votes and 38 comments.

This makes me wonder what the top-voted blogs have that this one doesn’t.

Is it the look of the blog? All Paths To Victory is very plain, but it’s not cluttered. Nor does it have bright colours, lots of pictures, or a banner heading. Maybe the appearance of the blog has an effect on the readers.

Is it the number of blog entries? Mine has only 32 entries. One blog in the competition has over 50 categories alone!

Is it the content? Many of the blogs in this competition talk about the Law of Attraction, or how to make money, or how to become a coach, or how to be a successful business owner. Mine doesn’t. My blog talks about a variety of subjects, all loosely connected with goal setting and achievement, and productivity, which are the major pillars of my coaching business.

Is it the lack of social bookmarking? The lack of a subscription list? The lack of readers because the blog is not updated regularly enough or because I don’t market it widely enough? Is it the lack of freebies offered on the blog? (Watch this space!)

Or is it a lack of focus? What does the reader want to read? I’m having a hard time getting people to comment on the blog (and that’s a topic for another post), so I’m blogging away in the dark, not knowing what people want to read.

These are the questions that a blog owner, or a website owner, continually asks when the blog/website isn’t producing the desired results.

Whatever the reasons, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in this competition. I’m also grateful for the votes and comments I’ve received so far. This whole exercise has been wonderful in many ways.

Please go to the Best Coaching Blogs of 2009 page, and vote for the blogs that float your boat. Then subscribe to those that appeal to you. It might help you, and it will certainly give the blog owners a boost. And isn’t that what blogging is about?

© Gaye Wilson 2009

Do you spend hours every day watching television?

Are you a fan of reality shows like The Biggest Loser or Hell’s Kitchen or The Great Race?

Do you wish you could be one of the contestants: lose weight, become a chef, travel the world following clues?

If so, you’re wasting time watching other people live their dreams. What about your own dreams? Are you living yours?

Take a look at how you spend your time. A good way to do this is to write down in 15 minute increments everything you do for a day. If you can do it for a week, that would be even better, as it would give you a really good idea of where your time is going.

Once you’ve done your time log, have a look at it. Notice the times when you are not actively doing something – watching television, watching sport, sleeping during the day, eating between meals. What are the activities that are not contributing to the achievement of your dreams? What activities are wasting your valuable time?

I’m not talking about the essential activities of daily life: sleeping, eating, exercise, paid work (you need to sleep, eat and exercise in order to function, and paid work hopefully gives you the financial means to live), quality family and social time. I’m talking about the activities that make you a couch potato, or a watcher – a gunna, not a doer.

Once you’ve analysed your time log, and know what times of day you slacken off, and what you do in those slack times, think about what you could be doing instead: writing a book? getting fit? learning a new language? reading a motivational or business book? Playing with your children? Helping a charitable organisation?

Of course, the biggest thing you should be looking at is: what do you want to do? What are your dreams? Or, more importantly, what are your goals?

A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Dreams are all very well and good. Dreams give you hope. But dreams will remain dreams unless you do something to achieve them. Once you start working towards your dreams, they become goals.

So what is your dream? Are you watching other people live their dreams, instead of working towards yours?

© Gaye Wilson 2009
Internet marketers are a persistent lot. Once you’re on their mailing list, they send you offer after offer of stuff you can’t live without.

Or can you?

New products and systems are launched with great hype, and the aforementioned internet marketers all jump on the affiliate bandwagon and, again, send you offers you can’t resist.

Or can you?

Supposedly, all this makes the marketers tons of money. In reality, it leaves you with tons of electronic garbage cluttering up your hard drive.

Each internet marketer and each new product claims to give you what you need to become a success, to make money, to become slimmer, more attractive, a better time manager and all around good sort. There are hundreds of products available on the internet that claim to have the best system for making money on the internet.

A case in point is niche marketing. There’s a new product on the internet that has been met with great acclaim and fanfare. It is a system of making thousands of dollars per month on obscure niches. The price of the system is nearly $500 in US currency.

What bugs me about the marketing copy for this particular product is that the producers of the system don’t care about what they are selling, as long as they are making money. They say upfront on their website that they have used this system in several obscure niches that they know nothing about and don’t care about.

In fact, thinking about it, that seems to be the norm for internet marketers. As long as they are making money, who cares if what they are selling is crap?

So where’s the victory here?

I suppose there’s a victory of a sort for the internet marketer who actually makes money doing this. But is it a victory for the buyer if the product doesn’t do what it promises, or stays on the hard drive without being used, or costs money the buyer doesn’t have or can’t spare, or, worse still, gives incorrect or incomplete information?

Where’s the moral victory for the marketer if they don’t care about the products or the buyers, as long as they make money? Where’s the sense of achievement (apart from having tricked the buyers into thinking there’s something special about the product and its marketer)? Where’s the pride in the marketer’s work?

And don’t get me started on the high prices for these products. $97 for an ebook? $497 for a one hour teleseminar?

Why would you do it? Is it just about the money?

I don’t make any money online. I haven’t actually set myself up for it. I intend to, sometime, but under strict guidelines. These are:

  • the products I promote MUST be connected with my core business
  • the products I promote MUST have value
  • the products I promote must have good information
  • I must be interested in the topic
  • I must agree with what is said
  • if I buy resell rights, I will check grammar, punctuation and spelling etc (after all, I AM an editor) before I put the product up for sale

So many internet marketers get free or low cost products to sell and simply offer them “as is” to their customers without checking that the writing makes sense, there is good information, or that there are no grammatical or spelling errors. They simply don’t care what they sell, as long as they are making money.

I think that’s wrong.

Call me stupid, call me idealistic, but I think that’s wrong. We should be helping each other in this world. If people were more interested in helping other people than in making money, the world wouldn’t be in the global financial crisis that exists today.

I think the internet marketer who tries to make money from products they haven’t tried and don’t care about are making money simply for the sake of making money.

So let’s start a discussion about this. Is it moral for internet marketers to sell stuff, any old stuff, just to make money?

© Gaye Wilson 2009
I just finished reading one of the most appalling stories I have ever read: Carolyn Jessop’s tale of escape from a polygamous religious sect in the USA. It’s called Escape and it is a chilling account of rape, physical and mental abuse, child molestation and repression that is happening right now.

After seventeen years as a plural wife in horrible circumstances, Carolyn Jessop managed to escape the community with her eight children. She fought to gain custody of them against the considerable financial and other power of her husband and the cult in which he was a highstanding member.

How does this relate to All Paths To Victory? Heaps.

In order to escape from an intolerable situation, Carolyn Jessop did a number of things, all of which were essential to her success.

She made the decision to leave the cult.
When things became too intolerable to bear, and she was in constant fear for the safety of herself and her children, she made the monumental and scary decision to get out.

She prepared herself for action.
Although she owned nothing in her name, she managed to save medications for her handicapped son, and prepared herself as much as possible mentally for the action required.

She took action.
When the time came, when circumstances were the best they would ever be, she took action, and secretly bundled her eight children into a van and drove away, despite the protests of some of the children.

She enlisted help.
Her sister and brother had already left the community, and she asked them for help, which they gave. She also asked for help from politicians, once she was out of the community.

She fought for what she believed in.
She fought for the custody of her children. She fought her eldest daughter who was so brainwashed that she returned to the cult when she became a legal adult. She spoke out against the cult and its manipulative and abusive members, and was heard.

She followed through.
She’s now a member of an organisation that is dedicated to assisting members of religious cults who have been abused. In other words, she not only worked for and obtained her own victory, but is also helping others with theirs.

I salute you, Carolyn Jessop.

Go here to read the book.

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