“Try to look at your weakness and convert it into your strength. That’s success.” – Zig Ziglar
Just wanted to catch up with ya’ll after running silent for a while. On Monday I began a sabbatical, intended to allow me to finish my second novel and sell the first (oh, and to get my drawing skills back…that’s a work in progress). To my shame, this first week wasn’t stellar from a performance standpoint, but if I turn things around today I’m willing to chalk it up to poor planning (or passive-aggressive resistance to self-discipline, over the years I’ve elevated laziness to an art form).
Why such a radical change?
Sabbatical is the nuclear option of work/life balance, I don’t use it lightly. It’s expensive, and exposes me financially. I’ve jokingly referred to myself as a success junkie, and I’m starting to realize it’s not a joke. When I’m around people or situations that have no clear success criteria it seeps into me, I conform to the environment, this is a weakness. I’m never more vital than when I’m working hard toward a definite goal, and that’s what this sabbatical period is for. I’ve grown soft – intellectually, artistically and physically – so this is basically a self-financed boot camp.
Another charming challenge I’m facing is balancing inevitable decay with positive belief in what I’m capable of. I’ve been able to rely on a body that can take a pounding and snap back, but over the last decade, bit by bit little chunks of me have begun to concede the game. Slow, low-level, persistent whispers of mortality playing Iago to my ego’s Othello. This has all kinds of weird and unexpected effects, and when I allow myself to wallow in my mind, it’s far from positive. The only antidote I know is proof. If I’m ever feeling less than great, I can guarantee you that I’m not committed to any formal goals. The simple act of saying “this is what I’m going to do, how much I’m going to do, and when I’m going to do” puts a cage on my malevolent id. Not having goals is a kind of self-hatred for me, yet I tend to be surprised when I notice I’ve let them lapse. Whatever, my credo is “people are nuts” but the upside is we can choose our delusions – I choose to be an artist. So, I’ll keep playing these mind games with myself for as long as it takes to get others to buy into my delusion too.
So, to keep myself out of the loony bin I’ll be creating formal goals today to guide the next few months. I’ve got the basic day sketched out (write/yoga/aerobic workout/write/draw/weight workout/inner enrichment) but haven’t decided on the daily/weekly measurements. My end game is to earn enough money from my art for it to become my “job” – so I’ll need to start selling soon. I’ll need to write a business plan, but at the moment I need to focus on production, mental focus (which has taken a hit this last year) and physical strength (these things, for want of a better term are my psychic pillars). I need short-term wins to prime my pump, so for the month of September I’m all about creating and executing daily schedules, word counts, weight loss, and commitment to artistic and physical disciplines. Big talk, but once they’ve become goals, they can be proved (or disproved) daily.
I’m excited but mindful. I’ve proven too often to be my biggest enemy, but also surprised myself by what I’m capable of – it’s all in how accountable I make myself. It’ll be fun either way, so much of life is spent thinking of what we’d do if we had the time to do it – there’s excitement to putting up or shutting up.