How Writing Every Day Reminded Me of The Power of Choice

“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan

Some time back I got together with some of the ladies I went to high school with. It was an informal reunion of sorts. As with all these types of events, the time soon came to share what we were currently occupying our time with.

When my turn came I mentioned a whole slew of stuff but I never mentioned the writing. I choose to blame the imposter syndrome for that.

One of the ladies, a consistent reader of my writing, filled the group in. She mentioned that I write. Not only that but that I write well. (I give many thanks for my friends who read what I write.)

“Before others will believe what is true about you, you’ll have to first believe it yourself.” ~ Jeff Goins, You Are A Writer

I write. I am a writer. I’ve been writing now for almost two years. It’s been a fantastic experience and a period of personal growth. I’ve achieved a number of self-identified and unexpected milestones on this journey.

One unexpected yet much welcome side effect of writing that I’m enjoying is a growing sense of consciousness with regards to the power of choice and how it informs my reality.

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” ~ Maya Angelou

Reading makes better writers. In the course of my reading, I came across a quote by Maya Angelou that says, “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

To get to the heart requires being more conscientious with the selection of the words you choose to inform on the topic you have selected. Failing to do this in my book, is to add to the noise that already exists.

Writers tend to write how they speak. As I become more conscious of the words I chose in my writing, I noticed something else happening.

I was growing more and more conscious of the words that I allowed to occupy my mind and those that I chose to utter when I spoke. Subsequently also becoming more conscious of the reality I was trying to create.

A small snippet of this process.

Narrative Version 1

  • When I’m feeling sad I reach for a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake. 
  • When I’m feeling scared, I don’t talk to my support system to engage in fear-setting. Instead, I retreat to the not so silent corners of my mind. 
  • When fear takes hold, I find every excuse under the sun why something won’t work. 
  • When I get angry, my words hit below the belt.

Since I started writing, the above narrative has changed to

Narrative Version 2

  • When I’m feeling sad I choose to reach for a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake. 
  • When I’m feeling scared, I choose not to talk to my support system to engage in fear-setting. Instead, I choose to retreat to the not so silent corners of my mind.
  • When fear takes hold, I choose to find every excuse under the sun why something won’t work.
  • When I choose to get angry, I choose words that hit below the belt.

This might seem like an inconsequential change but let me challenge you to do the same.

You will begin to notice like I did, that you have more control over your reality than you want to admit. You will begin to pay more attention to the fact that the good in your life is happening because you are choosing it and that you’re not simply missing things but in fact, choosing to miss them.

In my case, I began to notice that there’s only so many times you can keep reaching for a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake to deal with the hurt before you realize that either there is too much hurt or that you’ve begun to tip the scales and you need a healthier coping method.

Or that there’s only so many times you can keep finding excuses to explain your fears before you realize that you’re beginning to get further and further away from the things you desire to have.

Your Circle of Influence

Steven R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, introduces its readers to the concept of the circle of influence under the first habit — Be proactive.

It identifies the circle of influence as the area of our lives that present problems, challenges, and opportunities that we have control over to solve, rise to and take advantage of.

Your language, the words you choose to use, fall squarely in your circle of influence.

Life happens in spite of you. Tomorrow, if you refuse to wake up even though you can. If you refuse to open your eyes. If you refuse to have a single thought cross your mind, life will not wait for you to catch up to it. It will continue along on its merry little way.

What Reality are You Creating?

When thinking about the title of this post I initially wanted to use the word taught instead of reminded. Walking back through my memories though, I realized that I know the power of choice. I’ve exercised it myself from time to time.

There was the time that my heart got broken and sadness was all I knew. I could have chosen to grab a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake but instead, I chose an alternate course of action. I saw the sadness and its insatiable consumption of my happier self, a self I much prefer and I chose a different reality.

When the heartbreak tears would announce themselves in the corners of my eyes, I would grab my sneakers and go for a run. I was not much of a runner then and I’m still not. I did, however, love how it made me feel. That choice allowed me to heal and as a bonus, I got to add half-marathoner to my proud list of accomplishments.

Life is the sum total of the choices we make. Whether we’re conscious of those choices or not.

We’re putting too much off for the future. Too much stock in what we will do when we get there. We’re forgetting that the present is all that is available to us. That, the future you want to arrive at can only be built today. In today’s choices.

Your life is never just happening to you, it’s simply following your lead. Your life also does not happen for you unless you’re intentional with your choices.

Actions will forever speak louder than words. Those actions are informed by your choices. In your choices lies your character.

Who do you choose to be? What reality do you choose to bring to life?

“And if I may be so bold to offer my last piece of advice for someone seeking and needing to make changes in their life. If you don’t like how things are, change it! 

You’re not a tree. You have the ability to totally transform every area in your life-and it all begins with your very own power of choice.”  ~ Jim Rohn

Thanks for choosing to read this post. If this post resonates with you be sure to click the like button below. Do share this post so that others may be reminded of the power of their choices.

Recognize

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2 Habits That Are Non-Negotiable in The Pursuit of Excellence

I was asked this question the other day. ‘How often do you write?’ I replied ‘Every day.’ What followed was not so much a question but a look. ‘Why?’ The answer to that was easy. I am in pursuit of excellence. The pursuit of which has two non-negotiable habits. Commitment and consistency.

When we handle the fear aspect of getting started, starting is easy. Technology has made it even more so. For example, with a small dose of inspiration and a fist-full of curiosity, one can, with the mere click of a few buttons, start a blog, a podcast or a YouTube channel.

A search of the internet, however, will unearth an ever growing digital necropolis. A final refuge for a whole slew of concepts that danced ever so briefly, with curious inspiration. A 2-year-old blog with only ten posts. A podcast whose most recent recording is a year old. A YouTube channel whose last video is promoting a product that is no longer available. Technology has fooled us into unwitting accomplices of our own premature demise. A fitting reminder that there is no such thing as an overnight success.

“A total commitment is paramount to reaching the ultimate in performance.” ~ Tim Flores

The majority of those concepts have one thing in common. A lack of commitment and consistency. What does this tell us? If you want to create something that is undeniably great. That cannot be ignored. That is not a lucky accident but the dogged pursuit of excellence. The ultimate in performance. You must commit and be unwaveringly consistent in your pursuit.

Will there be times when commitment and consistency fail you? Absolutely. It’s a condition called life. You must learn to adapt and reconnect to your mission.

“It’s really common for people to want an extraordinary outcome for themselves in this life, but it’s very rare to see folks make extraordinary sacrifices for the *chance* to get one of those outcomes.” 

So don’t tie your emotions to something that cannot equally tie up your commitment and consistency. This journey is going to test you like no other. If you can’t stick with it and live through the tough times. If you can’t commit to it. Don’t start it. If you can’t be consistent with it. Don’t attempt it. This is as true with relationships as it is with every goal worth pursuing.

You can bump into luck once. So can everybody else. If you want to be tied to it for life, you must commit and be consistent in your pursuit.

Thanks for reading! If this post resonates with you be sure to click the like button below. Feel free to also share it so others may benefit from it too.

Why Does My Boss Hate My Writing?

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A survey of Fortune 500 executives revealed that 80% are dissatisfied with the quality of their employees’ written communications. Everyday, thousands of people pick up a piece of worthwhile information but find it too difficult to read. Almost without thinking, they put it down and go do something else.

Poor writing skills create poor first impressions and many readers will have an immediate negative reaction if they spot a spelling or grammatical mistake. As just one example, a spelling mistake on a commercial web page may cause potential customers to doubt the credibility of the website and the organization as a whole.

So ask yourself:

  1. Do you receive multiple requests for rewrites on information you send out?
  2. Do you receive no feedback on written documentation, especially when feedback was requested?
  3. When you ask recipients of your documentation if they have read it, do the majority say no?
  4. When you volunteer to write something, do you get turned down, often?
  5. In your staff meetings, are you met with blind stares when you refer to material you have written?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I have great news for you! Writing is a skill that can be learned like any other. Here are five tips to get you started:

  1. Always read what you have written aloud – reading text forces you to slow down and you may catch issues dealing with flow that your eyes missed. Most people find it easier to spot errors when reading from a printed copy compared to reading on a computer screen, so when possible, print out a copy to read.
  2. Keep it simple – avoid jargon, industry specific buzz words and clichés. Sentences should be short and concise.
  3. Become an avid reader – read as much as you can, as often as you can. Don’t just limit your reading to your specific industry. Reading exposes you to new vocabulary and you get to engage with different writing styles.
  4. Always write with your audience in mind and chose a medium of communication that suits them, not you.
  5. Use a spelling checker with caution – in most word processing programs, a spell checker is standard which is a great writing tool. The downside of the spell checker is it encourages laziness.  For example, you finish typing a document and run spell check to look for mistakes. No errors are found so you figure that the document is fine and you disseminate it without proof-reading it.  Proof reading is just as important as checking the spelling. Case in point, can you decipher the poem below?

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

~ Sauce Unknown ~

You won’t become a great writer overnight but with consistent practice, you could become the next Mark Twain or Chimamanda Adichie, of the corporate world.

Now go … go learn things