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I bet that list looks pretty much like the list you have drawn up for the last 10 years. Mine sure does.
Year after year I list:
- Make more money
- Lose weight
- Save more money
- Write more
- Have more fun
Each year’s list is at least 85% the same as the previous years and the year before that.
Like you, I have great intentions and, like you, they fizzle real quick.
That plan to run every morning – how’d that work out for you? Despite buying all the really cool running gear, I still never did it. Did you fare any better?
The plans to quit drinking alcohol and/or coffee? How’d that turn out? Yup. First early morning and I’m sucking back a cup of hot joe. First stressful day and I’m popping the cork on the shiraz.
Why Resolutions Suck
The reason that these resolutions never stick? They’re too extreme. As someone who enjoys at least 4-6 cups of coffee a day, what’s the real likelihood that I am going to succeed at cutting out coffee completely?
For several years I have enjoyed a glass or two of wine with my supper – how realistic is it to think I am going to stop that cold turkey?
And as if that isn’t impossible enough I’m going to add on daily running, no sugar, 2000 words a day of writing and being nicer to the world on top of it all?
How in the hell am I going to make that many changes all at once when half the bloody time I can’t find my keys?
Not freakin’ likely.
A Better Approach
So here’s what I’m trying this year. I’m looking to make
I’m looking for places where I can make a change of 10% (or less) to some area of my life.
My Microchange Resolutions for 2013
1. 500 Words a Day of Writing
In case you haven’t noticed, my writing has really dropped off this past year 😉 and it’s not just here on this blog but everywhere.
Where once I used to do a lot of writing for a number of different clients, I have let my whole writing business slide as I have been much busier acting and teaching.
This in and of itself is not a bad thing as I thrive on having multiple income strands, but I miss writing and it’s important to me, so I want to commit to doing more.
I was reading various things which suggested I should commit to writing 2000 words a day. At first I was really jazzed about this and telling myself I would achieve this goal every day, even if I have to get up before the sun to make it happen.
But I’ve made that vow before and it didn’t really work out. Given that I have been writing next to nothing for at least the last several months I am setting myself up for failure with that one.
I cut it back to 1000. But even that seems unrealistic.
So my microgoal for 2013 is to write 500 words a day. Five days a week. That’s a modest 2500 words per week. But that’s a hell of a lot more than I have done recently. And once I get going, I might write even more – BUT THAT IS MY MINIMUM. Bum in chair, fingers on keypad for 500 words, five days per week.
This writing might be something for one of my blogs, it might be a query email or letter to get more writing work, it might be work for a client or working on a larger project to be launched at a later date, but it will be 500 words/day of writing.
2. One Marketing Action a Day
I know all about how important consistent marketing is. And yet, I get busy and I drop the ball. It’s really hard when you are busy working to see the ongoing need to look for more work.
I am 2 weeks shy of ending a 14 week acting contract so when faced with a long stretch of work like that it’s difficult to remember that you still need to be marketing. Yet all jobs come to an end and consistent marketing helps to smooth out the ups and downs of creative life.
Wouldn’t it be great to be in a situation where you are picking and choosing the creative jobs you want to take and gently turning other’s down?
The only way to achieve this is by consistently marketing. That outward flow from you will greatly increase the chances of an inward flow of options.
So I commit to doing one marketing action per day. I’m also going to say seven days a week on this one because on the weekends I can be preparing things to go out during the week.
What kind of marketing actions might this be?
- contacting old clients
- cold calling/emailing potential clients
- pitching (articles, stories, services)
- picking up the phone and calling someone to try and wrestle up work
What I am not including is passive things like updating my website or social media profiles. These marketing actions need to involve reaching out to someone.
I’ve been a professional actor for over 20 years, a professional writer for about 7 years and a teacher for about 5 years. During that time I have worked with hundreds of different people.
If I was to reach out to just one of them a day, remind them I exist, ask about what they are doing, and where appropriate pitch an idea of something I might be able to do for them, I would be sending out 365 job queries per year. Given that they all know me and have worked with me before, these are 365 warm queries. I think the response rate would be pretty good (certainly a whole lot better than sitting on my duff and hoping they remember me!).
How hard is it to email/phone/tweet someone you’ve worked with previously?
Not that hard.
I might even, on days I’m feeling good, do more than one. Maybe I’ll try some cold queries to people who haven’t worked with me. But given that I will be stoking existing relationships all year long, I’m going to be pretty comfortable with writing a short, sharp email (where I ask as much about them as I blow my own horn) so reaching out to prospective customers is hardly something to be afeard of, right?
I can’t wait to see what kind of results this brings next year.
3. Consume 10% less
I was going to say consume 10% less food. Then I thought I should add 10% less food and drink and then I realised that actually I want to consume 10% less of everything. Buy 10% fewer coffees. 10% fewer clothes. 10% fewer newspapers and magazines. Drink 10% less alcohol and coffee and most importantly eat 10% less food.
I have tried so many times to diet. And I fail everytime. I love cooking and I love food. I love flavours and textures and colours of food. It brings me such joy. I eat when I’m happy and I eat when I’m sad.
Any diet which says I can’t eat food with abandon is never going to work.
So what if I just cut back my portions by 10%? Eat a little smaller piece of cake. Have one less spoonful of ice cream. One less piece of cheese. A slightly smaller serving of mashed potatoes and gravy.
What would all those 10%’s add up to?
How about 10% less of me! If I could lose 10% of my weight, I’d be happy beyond belief!
I don’t have scales, so I’m not really sure how much I weigh, but I think I’m somewhere around 185lbs. If I lost 10% or 18.5 lbs, I would be a svelte and sexy 166.5lbs. I would be thrilled to be that size. 10% off my 36” waist would be bring me below 33” and into all my favourite jeans. By this time next year, I would be rocking a bod I’d be proud of!
All by reducing my food and drink consumption by 10%.
Also, let’s say I waste £100 a month (pretty conservative) on stupid purchases: coffees, dumb magazines, things i don’t really need and which choke the planet. A 10% reduction not only eases my use of the world’s resources but saves me £120 over the year. Not much, but a good start.
Little Changes/Big Results
Those are my only three goals for this year. They are the (little) changes which I think are going to have the greatest impact on both my personal and professional life.
- Write 500 words a day
- Take one marketing action a day
- Consume 10% less of everything
That’s it. Pretty simple but also pretty effective.
What’s your microchanges for 2013? I’d love to hear about them.
Please comment below.