Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Author Photo Shoot

Last week I had part of my greater plan for my nonfiction book come to fruition. A professional photographer, Daniel Quinajon, met me at the Santa Inez Mission for a photo shoot.

When we pulled up, a bronze guy with brushed back hair, goatee and mustache had his equipment out. I could tell he was testing the light.

Out of the car, he was ready to work his magic. I was a little awkward at first, it being a long time since doing a shoot in a public place. However, his friendly manner and easy conversation did wonders. He reminded me in multiple ways of a good friend of ours from Oakland. The combination went a long way to making me comfortable.

When he finished taking portraits with a few shirt and equipment changes, he offered to take some family photos as well.

It couldn't have gone better if I planned it!

The result is I have some awesome photographs and now have a difficult decision. Which picture should I use for an author photo?

Sometimes life is hard.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

INFJ Dream Team?

INFJ: Just imagine what you can't see...
In the last few days I've been doing super crazy research about my MBTI type. In fact, I've been providing ample evidence of my own type - INFJ - in pretty much everything I'm doing (My reaction to stress is on full throttle these days...if only I could find a television show on which to binge the picture would be complete!).

It's crazy. Well, maybe neurotic. Which is further proof I'm an INFJ.

Thanks Myers and Briggs! You've provided an excellent explanation for all my actions! Sheesh!

So what have I been researching about MBTI types? Specifically I've been looking at ways to overcome my weaknesses and strong-arm myself into personal growth in ways that I am not inclined to on my own.

First I decided I should have a mastermind group - a group of people to mutual assure success of all its members by addressing problems and concerns of each individual. This is an idea I've thrown around for ages, however never definitively concluded how to go about setting up such a group. I am, as you might expect, driven to perfection. Therefore I wanted this group to be, well, perfect. The question I asked myself was, who would be on the dream mastermind group for an INFJ?

Necessarily, a dream group for an INFJ could serve as a dream group for others as well (though I haven't concluded who would be in such a group, so I cannot absolutely confirm this would best benefit other members...or even myself definitely.).

I threw around different types and finally stumbled upon a few sites with relationships across types. For example, an INTJ is supposedly my companion. We think about the world in a similar way (intuition babe - it's killer). We make systems and, well, we're *right.* ENFJs are my buddies, because, well, we're just shades of the same type (introverted or extroverted). I might be a bit more, uh, "psychic" than my extroverted buddy, but for the most part, our values are very similar.

All this is to say, I decided I need an ENTP and some kind of ST temperament in my life (possibly an ESTP, even though it might make me bang my head against the wall). I'm also increasingly convinced I should have some kind of SF in my life (ESFP? ISFJ?). Basically, I need to collect them all - all the temperaments at least - in a conscious, deliberate way.

I know -  this sounds a little crazy but lately I've felt like I'm surrounded by NFs...all the time. Everywhere. I love my little intuitive feeling group, but I need some variety in my life. Desperately.

The reason is I need to be pushed - pushed out of head and heart and into reality a bit more. I need to be pushed to try the things that are scary for me (and maybe I would push scary for these other types too? After all, INFJs are human lie detectors...and somewhat oracular. Not a comfortable thing for most people.).

So now what? How do I find these people? Do I put an ad on Craigslist? Do I go to some MBTI forum? Do I solicit my social media connections for recommendations? Suggestions? Volunteers to be a part of my success group experiment?

This doesn't sound diabolical at all....

And you, gentle reader, have you done anything like this? What was your success? Failures? What would you have changed if you could have? I'm open to direction (and possibly scrapping the whole venture if deemed a useless exercise). Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Life Success System

Transition can be so beautiful...
According to many business minded blogs, systems are the way to success. This is what many self-made people argue, and indeed, it would appear this kind of structure helps ensure focus. When a person has a system, a standard operating proceedure to fall back on, it guarantees that certain things get done no matter what.

It might seem a little awkward to talk about "personal standard operating procedures," after all, applying a business concept to one's life feels rather robotic. That said, I can say quite honestly that it works. I can say this, because in order to fulfill my promises to myself and ensure I achieve my goals, I have implemented a few systems of my own.

At first, it was a bit of experiment. I started off with some casual things. Once I experienced a little success with these smaller items, I decided to apply the same concepts to other areas of my life.

Because I hate veiled language and undelivered promises, I will explicitly share with you what I have done and then what I intend to do. In short, I'm going to give you my system. Keep in mind, it might not work for you. Just because it works for me, does not mean it will for you. The fact is, a system only works if it is used consistently. If you cannot follow it consistently, then do something else. This means you may experience some trial and error. I can attest that I have tried all manner of things and I have finally come up with something that works for me (and works for me in all aspects of my life).

The first thing I wanted to do was change a few habits. In order to do that, I downloaded a 21 day habit app (21 Days Effect from Google Play). I then chose three habits I wanted to establish. Each day I had to check into the app and choose whether or not I had completed the habit for a total of 21 days. At the end of the 21 days, I would input three new habits (or select one of the previous for another 21 days).

Now, I will openly admit that I need the check in. I need some accountability and I hate failure. Hate failure. I cannot stand being unsuccessful at something, thanks to a strong perfectionist streak. The check in, even if it is just within the app, is enough motivation for me to maintain focus on my selected daily goals for the 21 days.

I decided to choose some physical goals - like calorie counts and exercise quotas. Later, after a little success with the app, I added some professional goals. These I based on the things I feel called to complete in order to achieve my long term vision for myself.

My long term vision is a five year plan that includes my writing, finances, level of reknown, "day job," and family life. In order to realize that vision, I divided it up into yearly items. I realized I could only control myself, and so rather than worrying about how things would be received, I decided to ensure I did everything within my power to realize my vision every year, month, day, and hour.

This year, it meant applying to doctoral programs (check!), publishing a nonfiction piece (in beta reading as I write this post), finishing the Khloe Alwell series (80% finished with the manuscript of the last book!), finishing Andrew from the Rollins Pack, and completing related marketing/publishing changes for all related items. On top of all that, I need to assure my family is provided for. In order to do that, I need to have a way to make money consistently.

That seems like a lot when I write it out like that. Okay, actually it is a lot. But if I break it down into bite sized chunks, it isn't. Really. In fact, I plan to get it all done by July.

I decided the order in which to get these things done. First, my nonfiction book is in beta reading. Until I get feedback about that, I am unwilling to publish it. In the mean time, I can write a guest post or media packet item once a week related to the book.

Next, I decided to focus on Khloe. My Khloe fans have been waiting patiently for the last installment, and it's time I fulfill my promise. I gave myself several weeks to rewrite the 80k that was written, and then another month to complete the first draft. Then I gave myself a couple weeks to rewrite into a second/third draft. When that was complete, I would send it to a few beta readers. With feedback, I'd do another draft, give myself a day for coverart, and publish. I took less than a week to rewrite the 80k and already I am up to 92k. By giving myself very achievable daily goals, I am able to pace myself and maintain momentum. When I have more time and energy, I rewrite or write more. When I don't, I focus on reaching my daily goal.

By putting my daily writing goal into the app, I have added accountability. It is enough to make me feel like I'm in a race with myself, which is ideal for the competitive perfectionist.

Needless to say, I divided the tasks for Andrew in a similar way and will complete it when I send Book 4 to beta. After Andrew, I hope to have my nonfiction piece in hand, will rewrite it, and publish, along with a nice marketing campaign in relevant sites and blogs. I get my daily goals done before I do anything else, and I'm golden.

Once those book related items are done, then it is time to focus on developing a consistent income stream. In my five year plan, my books do that for me. Right now however, I need an alternative. This is especially true if I enroll in a doctoral program.

I have a TON of business ideas on any given day. In fact, it's a little crazy how varied my ideas are (products, services, websites, brick and name it). There are several issues with this, however...
  1. Isolating the best idea.
  2. Hammering out the details.
  3. Making it work.
In the past there was also the question of having enough energy to get started. Getting started is the first difficult thing. The second difficult thing is continuing before the idea builds enough inertia to be self-sustaining.

Getting started is scary for me, but I can do it. In the past my true hurdle was waiting for sufficient inertia.

I have written more than enough books to feel good about publication. I feel good about my overall plan. While I continue to follow my plan for writing, marketing, and publication, I need to decide what I idea to develop for a consistent income stream. That way, when I have finished my publication goals, I can transition seemlessly to my business/income development goals.

So far my system works. I'm moving along on a good clip. I am sure of my success. I just need to decide what that success will look like and then I can make it happen. I have a system for that.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Farce Revealed

There is always a breaking point. There is always a point in the tour of life where you just cannot go on - where whatever show you put on is seen as the farce it is.

It might not be outsiders who see it clearly. Maybe you are a consummate actress and so they think you're doing just swell. However you no longer fool yourself. The feigned strength is just a system of pulleys and rope you concocted out of the scrap of your life. But the rope is thin now. The pulleys stick.

You look out over the play and see the story just repeats itself. How many excuses can you make for this? How many rationalizations? You are such a rhetorician you can argue any point from any angle, but it's not enough. Smoke and mirrors are illusion, and reality must be addressed.

No make up. No witty one liners. No song. No dance. No flowing costumes or well designed sets.

This is life baby. This is where you cannot ignore your breaking heart, your festering wounds, your empty accounts. This is where the best plans are laid waste by an anxious fool too myopic to see how his actions impact those around him. This is where you cannot wait around for someone else to do the hard thing.

There is no one else.

There is only you.

You do the hard thing.

You fix yourself.