Category Archives: Alex’s Someday Updates

Course Changes on the Someday Journey: Reorienting Goals

  • Someday Lesson: You don’t set course on your dream once and then forget about it. It requires vigilance to stay on track.

wili_hybrid on flickr.comI haven’t been happy recently and that’s been bothering me. After all, how can I help you find happiness if I’ve lost my own? In a post on the blog last week, I asked my Lab Rats six questions. I decided that since I haven’t been as happy as I could be, I would answer the questions myself.

  1. What are you not doing even though you feel you should want it?
  2. Where do you claim to want something but then let fear stop you?
  3. What aren’t you tackling because it’s too much work?
  4. Are you actively engaged or on autopilot?
  5. How many projects do you have on the go at any one time? How good are you at prioritizing them?
  6. Where are you choosing safe over happy?

If you’ve ever read the About page on Someday Syndrome or read either of my ebooks, you will have learned a bit about my life before coming to Spain. Ever since I was 12 years old I have wanted to write and yet for years I avoided this dream, taking detours in many different directions.

In 2006, I decided to stop taking detours and get on with writing. But then I got started with Someday Syndrome and it excited me. I loved the idea of it and I loved the idea of helping people and earning a living doing so.

However, as the work behind the business began to increase, it took more and more of my energy and focus away from my fiction writing.

Starting a small business is time consuming – hugely so. I’ve recently increased my fiction writing to 3 hours a day at least 4 days a week. That, plus my part time teaching, did not leave much time to focus on the small business while still having a balanced life.

When I stepped back to look at my life objectively I realized that if I was to prioritize the things I do the order came out: writing, Raúl, teaching English, Someday Syndrome. And when things aren’t going well, it’s usually the fault of whatever’s on the bottom of the list.

Someday Syndrome is insidious – it’s no good to chart your course and then let the boat pilot itself. Crossing the Someday Sea requires vigilance and regular course changes.

For me, scaling back the business is one of those course changes. I’m on the verge of letting it become yet another detour away from my writing dreams and I refuse to let that happen again.

So what does this mean for you?

Newsletter subscribers will still receive the semi-monthly Someday News, but the blog will go more or less inactive and instead of offering a full range of services, I will provide a limited number of Skype-based sessions (and email support) each month as well as the popular ebooks.

If you really want a Someday fix in between newsletters you will also be able find me on the following blogs each month:

And now for you – what course changes do you need to make to get yourself back on track? What answers do you have to the six questions above?

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Just Let It Happen: How to Stay Productive While Sick

  • Someday Lesson: Plan in catch up moments for unplanned breaks in productivity.

Kai Hendry on flickr.comLast week I updated you on my mostly successful first week of a hyper-schedule. My creativity and productivity soared and I was taking plenty of time off. My second week was going to be even better than the first.

And then I got sick but not can’t get out of bed sick. It was a weird sickness. I was dizzy and had a strange sinus pressure just above and behind my eyes, likely the cause of the dizziness. And I couldn’t concentrate, especially creatively.

So what happened to my creativity and productivity? They, of course, vanished.

I wanted to get things done. I wanted to be creative and move the novel forward, but any time I sat down to write pretty much anything the world spun and my stomach flipflopped. I could still do technical things and very logic-heavy tasks but anything that required creativity made me ill. It’s like whatever was wrong with my sinuses only affected my right brain.

Dealing with the Unexpected

I could have gotten cranky. I could have pushed myself and produced utter crap. Or I could have taken a break and let whatever was bothering me pass.

My lazy tendencies stirred long enough to convince me of the virtue in the last option. I dedicated myself to getting the bare minimum done and relaxing the rest of the time. I watched the entire latest season of Project Runway and spent most of the week in bed.

But I wasn’t completely unproductive. I also took the time to come up with a series of visions for my future – not the outcome kind of future but an action-based one. I looked 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years into the future and decided what I was doing. As Richard Wiseman points out, in his book 59 Seconds, people who picture future actions rather than future outcomes are more likely to achieve their goals.

And for some reason my dizzy right brain let me come up with some pretty awesome stuff. I guess it wasn’t a very right brain activity. I also focused on other left brain activities like creating the Personalized Someday Assessment form now available on the website, and created a flowcharts and processes for the business.

Letting It Happen

Instead of fighting with myself and making the week even worse, I let myself be sick. I enjoyed the time instead of whining about every moment that I wasn’t sticking to my schedule.

By Saturday evening I was feeling much better and by this point itching to write. So that’s exactly what I did, catching up two of three writing sessions I had missed during the week. If I had tried to push myself and fought against what my body and brain wanted, by Saturday night even writing a single word of fiction would have been as impossible as forcing a cat to play with a string it had no interest in (and I would have only ended up with the mental/emotional scratch marks to show for it).

And even though I didn’t follow my schedule much at all, by having it and knowing my goals for the week, I could pick and choose what I would get done and what I would leave unfinished. And in the end I got almost everything accomplished even though each day my tracked schedule was full of missed activities.

Plus by scheduling in plenty of relaxation time I gave myself wriggle room to catch up after feeling better. If you don’t give yourself that sort of space, then when you do fall behind, you just keep moving backwards struggling every moment.

So be kind to yourself and stop struggling – plan your time well and give yourself the best chance to achieve success, creatively.

P.S. Remember how last week I mentioned and interactive Someday Interview series? Well, it’s ready. Fill in the Personalized Someday Assessment form and starting in December your situation and my suggestions could be featured on the blog and maybe help someone else bust their own Somedays. Go check it out!

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Flexible Structure: Being Creatively Strict with Myself

  • Someday Lesson: Changes need to be monitored for results or they’re meaningless.

Ingorrr on flickr.comNovember is Creativity Month here at Someday Syndrome and if you remember from my post at the beginning of the month, I decided to test my creativity by getting more organized and disciplined.

Specifically I created a daily schedule designed to make sure that I not only get everything done but also when to do it.

Flexible Structure

The reaction I got from many people about being so structured was: I couldn’t possible stick to a tight schedule.

Well, I discovered that neither can I. But you know what? That doesn’t matter. Despite changing up my supposedly unchangeable schedule, every single day I managed to get the majority of the things on my action list done.

For example, yesterday at 8am I pulled out the Wii Fit Board to do my daily exercise but discovered the batteries were dead. Instead of cutting out my exercise, however, I plugged the batteries in to charge then pulled one of my afternoon tasks up and worked on that instead. I then exercised later, getting both tasks accomplished in spite of the major obstacle.

Without my schedule, I would have simply trashed the idea of exercise and frittered the time away.

Recognizing Failure

The only thing I failed at was the revisions for Someday My Ship Will Come In. By tracking my success or failure with each of my tasks I made myself aware of this lack of progress. If I hadn’t been tracking my goals, I could easily have ignored it (which I’m very good at) and then something very important to me wouldn’t get done.

Why am I not doing the revisions? Two reasons:

  1. I put it at the end of the day after having spent a good part of the day already writing.
  2. A lack of passion. I’m a starter – I love new things and new ideas. Going back and revising or revisiting a project bores the crap out of me.

So, what will I do?

First off, I’ll change my attitude. Instead of seeing the ebook as a revision, I’ll consider it a new project for which I already have a lot of the materials prepared. By playing this mental trick with myself, I’ll no longer dread the idea but see the challenge in creating a new (and amazing) product that blows the old one out of the water in awesomeness.

As for the scheduling problem, this week I’ll move the time for the “new” ebook to right after lunch before I do my blog reading. And I’ll end my workday with something that does excite me which is the continued tweaks on the website.

Helping Develop Self-Awareness

Speaking of website tweaks, I have a new tool to share with all of you.

When I talk to people about Someday Syndrome, so many say “I think I have that!” but up until now, you couldn’t know for certain without opening up your life to examination by contacting me and asking for help.

Now, however, Someday Syndrome offers a new tool – the Someday Assessment – which tells you not only if you suffer from Someday Syndrome, but what type you suffer from!

Plus it’s easy and takes no more than five minutes to answer.

So stop wondering if you have Someday Syndrome – find out for sure!

Because knowing the problem is halfway to solving it.

P.S. Wondering what’s happened to the Someday Interview series? I’ve temporarily retired it while taking the month to apply come creative thinking and come up with a new version – one that everyone can participate in!

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Controlling Creativity: Timeblocking My Way to Success

  • Someday Lesson: Creativity and chaos are not synonyms.

Third1 on Flickr.comWhen we think of a typical artist, we picture a person living in chaos, papers or paint everywhere, abandoned food rotting on the table (or floor), appointments forgotten, and sleep patterns only a chaos scientist could understand.

Ask many writers about their writing process (or watch movies about writing such as Stranger Than Fiction or I Capture the Castle) and you’ll get an impression that this chaos does nothing for getting writing done (contrary to popular belief). In fact, many writers (myself included) will often do anything other than write (so indulge the chaos). You see, as much as we love the creative process, it overwhelms us.

I don’t know about other writers but for me, when I write I feel all the emotions of my characters often all at once and this avalanche of feeling plugs my ability to get the words down on paper. In her fantastic course, How to Think Sideways (now off the market), Holly Lisle says:

We want and need feelings. We will die inside without them. But sometimes, sometimes…sometimes, dammit, we need to think. You cannot plan a career with the thinking half of your brain tied behind your back.

NaNoWriMo as Motivator

Many writers use National Novel Writing Month (which started November 1st) as a way to apply discipline and get themselves thinking as well as feeling. A writer “wins” NaNoWriMo if he or she can get 50,000 words written in the month.

Although I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo, I did it once (but didn’t “win”) in 2007. I credit the month with giving me the drive and the habit to write regularly and push through to the end of long projects.

With everything else going on in my life, I don’t have the time to commit to the NaNoWriMo schedule, but the idea of corralling creativity through structure gave me a different idea.

Extreme Structure

This month I plan to take structure to an extreme. I’ve set up my Google Calendar to ring an alarm through the day to move me onto the next task in my list regardless of where I am in the task.

I’ve broken my day into sections, anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. I also have marked off breaks where I will purposefully NOT be productive. By being so rigid with m schedule I hope to increase my productivity, focus more on what I really want to get done, and have more time dedicated to non-productive activities (like doing things with the boyfriend).

Throughout the month, I’ll be reporting my progress here on the blog, because of course, an experiment has no worth if no one measures the before and after. And what will I be measuring?

  1. Amount of writing done (word count / progress on an outline)
  2. Guest posts written
  3. Blogs commented on
  4. Various Someday Syndrome visitor statistics
  5. And various other actions that should draw in more readers and clients.

Someday-Busting Contest

Now it’s your turn. I’m sure there’s some way that right now you could put just a little more structure in your life and in turn be more creative with your time.

Either email me or leave a comment here below with your structured-creativity intention and at the end of the month I’ll pick one person to win a month of Someday-Busting Email Coaching.

Speaking of which, I’d like to congratulate Emma for winning the October contest. At the end of the month maybe we’ll get her to do an update to her Someday Syndrome Interview and see how the month has changed her situation.

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The Two-Letter Way to Manage Your Time: “No”

Sands of Time

October is National Clock month, and funnily enough, it’s been a month where I’ve been very challenged with time. It seems to be human nature that when we’re looking at something closely – such as time management – then we become very aware of how accomplished (or not) we are in it.

Time can’t be managed. Time is an intangible resource that we can use, or ignore, or waste. Time isn’t concerned with what we are doing – it keeps going along at it’s own regular pace as it has for millennia. We, in our infinite wisdom, attempt to bend, manipulate, distort and control time. For some reason the concept of controlling time reminds me of the quote that mentions nailing jelly to the wall….

We all have the same 24 hours in every day. Why is it that some people power their way through mountains of work, absolute pillars of productivity, while arrive at the end of their day wondering what they achieved?

If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got. – Lee Iacocca

Priorities. Actively deciding what we’re going to do and then doing it. How often have you found yourself checking Facebook just one more time, looking to see who’s on Twitter now, checking that forum you found last week… and then realise that a couple of hours have passed with nothing to show for it. Then you tell yourself that it’s ‘networking’ and therefore productive. Uh uh. If it’s not what you needed to accomplish that day, then it’s wasted time that you can never get back.

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch. John F. Kennedy

Too much to do. I’m guilty of this one. There’s always time for just one more thing. Sure, I can take on that project. Want me on a committee? Love to. Only problem is that we have to schedule it for 11.30 to 11.45pm on Friday nights, because all my other time is booked up – unless you’re available at 2.00am on Wednesdays? One of the most important things you can do for yourself is learn to say ‘No’ and stop taking things on.

I am definitely going to take a course on time management… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule. – Louis E. Boone

You don’t have to explain yourself or justify your answer. Have an answer prepared in advance “I’m sorry, I have too much else on my plate to take that on right now”. Or the much simpler “No”.

Life is as much about what you choose NOT to do as it is about what you choose to do.

Do what you enjoy. Ok, I’m not saying that we’re never going to have to do things that we don’t enjoy, there’s always going to be filing and housework for instance, but for the most part you should be doing activities that you enjoy.

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute — then it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity! – Albert Einstein

If you’re thinking about your job or business with dread – it’s time for a change. If you’re always procrastinating a task, think about why that is –often it’s because you don’t enjoy it. Filling your days with tasks, work and activities that you dislike is soul destroying and sucks the life and joy right out of you. You deserve better, and all you have to do is make a choice and put it into action.

And finally my favourite quote about time (having just turned 40 this year and had to start dying my hair):

Time is a great healer, but a poor beautician. – Lucille S. Harper

About Mel

Melinda BrennanMelinda Brennan is a Business Coach who helps Work at Home Mums find clarity and direction amongst the enjoyable chaos of working at home.

You can find her online at WAHM Biz Builder or come and say hello to her on Twitter.

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Getting Time on Your Side: The Creating Time Contest

October is National Clock month and what better way to kick it off than with a contest! But first, let’s take a look at an excerpt from the upcoming ebook I’ll Get Around To It Someday

  • Someday Lesson: The world may always spin at the same rate but we create or destroy time depending on how we use it.

mad hatter tea partyTime is money… Time is of the essence… Spending time… Wasting time… So little time to do so much…

We have so many phrases that talk about the preciousness of time. We worry that we don’t have enough time to do what we want to do and we spend too much time doing what we have to.

We end up looking around in amazement and saying “Where did the time go?” And we have done only half the things we need to do, a quarter of the things we want to do, and none of the things we dream of doing.

In Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter says “If you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock.”

Well, unfortunately, very few of us are on that good of terms with time and the clock does exactly what it wants.

In the age of multiple commitments to family and work, we find ourselves scrambling to accomplish anything.

Ever had those moments when time didn’t exist? When you were content with what you were doing and how much or how little time it involved didn’t matter? In those moments we own time, it’s ours. Creating time is about structuring your life so that you have more of those latter moments, and fewer speeding bullet, or dragged out periods.

How do we do that? Through choice and action. We all make choices and each choice has a consequence. We have control over our choices but rarely any influence on the consequences. Consequences that could eat up a lot of time we don’t have. We therefore need to make smart choices about how we spend our time.

Creating Time Contest

Before getting into the contest details, let’s start with the prize because honestly, the prize this month will totally bust through your time challenges.

How so?

Because this month, the winner of the Creating Time Contest will win time with me. That’s right. If you enter this month’s contest, you could win a month of email support from the world’s only Someday Mentor. We’ll figure out what blocks you have time-wise and by the end of the month you’ll have created enough time to get everything you want done.

Now that you’re all excited about the prize (seriously who wouldn’t be excited about winning something that’s worth $400?) let’s get to the details.

Tell me, either here in the comments or in an email, what you would do with the month of time mentoring. Give me your story of woe – let it all hang out and tell me why you desperately need to get your time organized.

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Learning Patience Because Success Takes Time: Alex Fayle Interview

Throughout October here on Someday Syndrome, we’re going to talk about time management, something that given how many things I have going on in my life is a constant challenge for me.

As a way of introducing the topic, and to give those of you who don’t know me that well a chance to see into my own Someday Journey, today’s Someday Interview is with yours truly…

Alex FayleAlex Fayle of Someday Syndrome
Alex is a writer and Someday mentor who believes that everyone can actively follow their dreams. It’s just a matter of making conscious choices.

Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
Starting a new business is difficult. Despite the rumors that there are a multitude of riches to be had, business success does not happen overnight. At the same time, that I’m building a small business, I’m also working towards getting fiction published professionally. Another really slow pursuit.

I work away at the huge list of things I could be doing to build the business and get my fiction published, plus I make an effort to have a life outside work and writing by spending time with my boyfriend, friends and taking time off to vacation. Plus I have a part-time job to keep the bills paid.

So what happens?

I get overwhelmed, get depressed, have a little fit and want to toss it all out the window and just get a nine-to-five job where I don’t have to think about work, writing or balance.

Even our lowest moments fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
By wallowing in a pity party, I let off steam. If I held it all in, I’d start sabotaging myself, but by recognizing my impatience and feelings of frustration, I give them a limited time to come out and play n a way that doesn’t damage my dreams or take me backwards on my path.

Tell us what you did to break up the pity party. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
My partner offers support, makes me laugh and kicks me in the butt in just the right mix. I also have a group of colleagues including (among many many others) Eliza at Make Way For Business, James at Men with Pens, and Kelly at Maximum Customer Experience. They allow me to vent, then remind me to be patient and usually give me something to do to dispel my frustrations.

I kick my own butt, too. After giving my negative its own time, I go back to my schedule and to my list of daily actions and just keep moving forward bit by bit.

Finally, I make a huge effort to not compare myself to others in my niche because seeing the success of others when I’m feeling unsuccessful just makes me want to work even less (as in “Why bother?!”).

Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
When I’m feeling this way, I tell myself to be patient and then go do something (which is exactly what I tell others to do in the same situation). Seeing one piece of the long-term plan done gives me the energy to move forward again.

Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
Someday I won’t feel so stretched and someday I won’t feel like I’m never getting enough done.

It doesn’t matter how productive my day is, when I go to bed I still have a huge to-do list waiting for me and a feeling that I haven’t really connected with my partner and friends in a decent manner.

As much as I would like to add hours to the day, what I really want is a stable income from fewer sources. In other words, someday I want to cut back on my working hours while increasing my income.

At the beginning of a business, the amount of unpaid work is amazing. Between product development, blogging, marketing and social media, it feels like there’s little time for paying clients.

Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I’m developing information products that don’t expire – once created they can continue earning (but still need to be marketed). I’m also constantly refining my market to make sure I’m drawing in my Right People.

But most importantly I recognize that I can’t do everything and I certainly can’t do it all at once, so I pick my priorities and work on each of them, measuring the effect of my efforts on my business.

Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Be highly focused with what you want – make sure that you’re not throwing your energy all over the place without any sort of focus. Time and energy are not limitless – use them well or forget about success.

Also whenever you’re feeling frustrated with slow progress take a big breath and say “Patience…”

If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for? You might be tempted to provide a cheeky answer, but stop and think a moment about what would really help you.
Well, clearly the cheeky answer would be: clients, lots more clients.

But realistically what I want is more exposure.

And that’s where I’m asking you for help. If you enjoy reading the Someday Syndrome blog and the bimonthly Someday News, then please tell someone about it. I’m looking for some raving fans who’ll evangelize the message of Someday Syndrome across the world.

Specifically (because you know that curing Someday Syndrome is all about small specific actions), I would love it if you told three people who you think would benefit from the Someday Syndrome messages.

Thank you! I appreciate all you already do for me in supporting the blog and the other Someday Busting Services.

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