Do you remember the last time you were really, really excited by a new goal? You probably tied yourself down to an extremely rigorous plan of action, only to not even come close to meeting it when the time came.
Here’s an example we’ve all been guilty of one time or another: A New Year’s resolution to get healthy.
You decide this is the year—you’re going to finally make a commitment to your health. You fill your fridge with fruits and vegetables as well as plan to wake up at 6 AM every day to go for a three mile run.
But what happens when it’s time to actually eat those veggies but all you want is a cheeseburger? Or when the alarm clock goes off at the crack of dawn but all you want is to bury under the covers?
Why is it so easy to bail on ourselves when it comes time to do the work we planned out?
Whether we do or don’t—it all comes down to the thoughts running through our heads.
In the pillar post—2 Steps To Your Writing Breakthrough—we go through the Thoughts→ Feelings→ Actions→ Results model in full force. Check it out if you haven’t already.
Simply put, your thoughts create your feelings. Your feelings create your actions. Your actions create your results.
Here’s a 10-minute routine to do before each scheduled writing session that will shift your thoughts so you can do the work and make your writing goals happen!
The 3-Step Habit to Ensure You Write Every Day
Carve out just 10 minutes before each writing session for this powerful 3-step routine. Spend 5 minutes on Step 1 and 5 minutes total on Steps 2 and 3.
Just like with anything new, it will feel challenging and scary at first, but it will get easy pretty quickly. Make a vow to stick with it for 1 week. You’ll be amazed at the results.
Step 1: The Thought Download
A thought is just a sentence running through your brain. It might be true, it might not be true. If you’re getting results in your life you don’t want, chances are you’re acting off a completely false thought!
To begin, get out a blank sheet of paper. You can write this out longhand or type it, but it’s really important to get your thoughts out of your head and on paper.
I used to just try to run through my thoughts in my head, but when I started to write them down, everything started to change.
One of our gifts as humans is the ability to think about our thinking. Take a step back and trying to picture the thoughts in your mind. Once you’ve taken that subtle yet imperative step back, start writing.
Your thought download will change every day, but here are some examples of things I found running through my mind over the past week:
- I’m too tired to write.
- I don’t know what to write about.
- This sucks.
- I don’t feel like it.
- I’m scared this is going to be awful.
- There’s no point in doing this; it’s going to really suck.
- This is the last thing I want to do right now.
All of those above thoughts were creating really negative feelings in me and thus, negative actions (like procrastinating and blowing off my scheduled writing time). And the crazy thing is—none of them were even true!
Once you start writing, you’ll be utterly surprised at what you find there. Putting our thoughts on paper brings to light thoughts that were causing us pain that we weren’t even aware we were thinking.
Step 2: Pick One Negative Thought from the Download to Analyze
The next step is important because it helps us see the true impact of our unmanaged thoughts. Go through your thought download and choose one that’s especially painful (by this I mean a thought that’s bringing on really strong negative emotions when you see it).
Using the above examples, I’ll choose the thought “I’m scared this is going to be awful”.
Next, let’s build a Model on our chosen thought so we can see the damage it’s causing. Sorry to nag, but if you haven’t read that pillar post—2 Steps to Your Writing Breakthrough—go check it out because it walks through the Model process in detail. If you’re confused about the following “Model”, the pillar post will give you the background info you need.
I like to call Models based off negative thoughts Unintended Models because the hidden thought is creating a pattern we don’t want and would never knowingly choose.
Circumstance: Scheduled writing session.
Thought: I’m scared this is going to be awful.
Action: Procrastinate on scheduled writing session. Seek out activities that feel better (social media or cookies, for example).
Result: Don’t meet word count goal for the day.
Do you see the horrible outcome that happens simply by allowing that negative thought?
Step 3: Choose a Better-Feeling Thought
When you do this routine before your writing session, you can catch those painful thoughts that have the potential to ruin everything.
But what do you do once you pinpoint the thoughts preventing you from writing? You pick a better-feeling thought.
Warning, warning! You must choose a better-feeling thought that you actually believe.
If you are thinking a really negative thought like “I’m a horrible writer,” picking a new thought like “I’m an amazing writer”, is not yet believable to your brain. You can’t create genuinely positive feelings and actions from a thought you don’t believe.
The trick here is to choose a thought that’s more neutral. For instance, using my example thought “I’m scared this is going to be awful”, I could try something more like “I’m a beginner, I’m not supposed to be good yet,” or “This is only my first draft. It will get better.”
In order to see if that new thought is going to have the effect you want, build another Model. We’ll call this the Intended Model since we are actively seeking out the thought:
Circumstance: Scheduled writing session.
Thought: I’m not supposed to be good yet.
Action: Start writing at scheduled time, even though writing is not good yet.
Result: Meet word count goal.
The really great thing about Intended Models is the result we get at the end is the thing we wanted. When we actually accomplish that, we’re filled with great feelings like accomplishment, confidence, and joy. It’s an exercise that not only helps you get writing in the moment but it fuels you for the next session, making each time easier than the one before!
Have you tried this exercise out yet? Were you able to get writing after doing this exercise when you were in danger of quitting before?