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Ronda Bowen

Author, Editor, Blogger, Consultant, Scholar, Volunteer, Maker, Photographer

#MondayMotivation: Go for a Streak to Keep Working Toward a Goal

When you want to make progress on those big, scary, hairy audacious goals, it’s sometimes not enough to break them down into small manageable pieces. Sometimes, you have to really get into the habit of working on them.

For example, I’ve been working on a 31 runs in 31 days challenge as part of getting ready to run my first half marathon in October. At first, it was rough to make sure I got my run in, but after a week, it became habit, and after 2 weeks, making sure I keep up my run streak became just part of planning my day.

Lots of productivity gurus suggest not breaking the chain

When it comes to your goals, set a goal to work on your big goal once a day for a month. There’s a huge psychological benefit to creating a chain where you’re doing something every day. Not only does that activity become a habit, but it also makes you less likely to break the chain.

For example, if you want to launch a new business, commit to working on that at least an hour a day every day for a month. A month isn’t so bad, right? An hour is a manageable chunk of time but if that seems like too much, then 30 minutes, or even just 15 minutes, will propel  you forward. In any case, set a minimum time.

In my running example, I started out with 1 mile as my minimum distance. I usually run more than that now. But knowing that I can just do a mile as a way to meet my obligation helps on the days that I’m not feeling it. Figure out what that time is for you on your goal, and set it.

Be accountable to others

Announce what you’re trying to accomplish and check in on your streak. Every day, I post a photo of either something I saw on my run or myself with the streak day number to Instagram and Facebook. I also track my miles in my running app. By having a way to keep accountable, it helps motivate me to keep going. What can you do to keep yourself accountable?

What goal will you accomplish by starting a #streak of action toward it? Let me know in the comments!

 

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What I’m Working On July 2018

I’ve got a lot going on, but that’s a good thing. In the past year, I started running again, I started new projects, I celebrated the 10 year anniversary of my decision to go into business for myself as an editorial consultant, and I learned to juggle three young children and work while my oldest headed off to college. We’ve finally gotten our house mostly set up (only 2 years after moving in) and can start to work on all those fun projects.

The summer has been hot here, making me much more ammenable to spending time at the keyboard rather than outside running about, though I’ve been getting my training in for a half marathon in October. Here’s what I’ve been up to career-wise.

Consulting Work

Creative Mindscape

I started with Creative Mindscape back in October 2017. Creative Mindscape is a web marketing consultancy specializing in SEO & Traffic Growth, Web Design, WordPress Hosting & Maintenance, Competitive Analysis, and Content Marketing. I recently took the position of being Vice President of Editorial Services. Some of the blog posts I’ve written for our company blog include:

I’m also managing social medial marketing for several clients. Creative Mindscape has great people, and I’m glad to be part of the project!

EnveritasGroup

I’m still creating content for Enveritas Group’s Campfire Blog. Here are some of my recent posts there.

Other Consulting Work

Other editorial consulting projects I’ve been working on have included working on articles about addiction recovery for one client, developmental editing for a young adult novel, and editing academic writing for a third client.

Magazine Work

Equanimity Magazine

Equanimity Magazine recently released a blog, EQTmag.com. I built the site, and I’ve been responsible for the blog posts there. The blog will work like the magazine – we will profile neat individuals who are doing cool things, interview celebrities, follow Ben Lecomte’s swim across the Pacific Ocean, share tips on living one’s best life, and more. Recent posts include:

If you or someone someone you know should be featured on the blog, please email info@equanimitymag.com.

SNARK! Magazine

I’m getting much closer to launching SNARK! Magazine. I found a graphic design tool for magazine creation that I think will work really well for getting the magazine going. I’m working on putting a list of writer, artist, and photographer guidelines together and I aim to launch this fall. If you are interested in contributing to the magazine, please email snarkmag@gmail.com.

Blogging Work

Wining Wife®

I’m about to start a content audit and site update of WiningWife®. It’s been a little while since I’ve worked on the site design. I’ve posted a lot of book reviews recently; I have some more wines to review and a cool kids’ cooking kit to review. Recent popular posts include:

I’m currently looking for food writers who would like to share recipes with clear photographs to feature on the blog. If you or someone you know would like to participate, please email editor@winingwife.com. NOTE: You must include links to published samples of both writing and photography to be considered.

Activism My Way

I took a little hiatus from Activism My Way while I was working on a project for the now defunct 50 States of Blue. I am planning on moving my evergreen articles from there over to this blog, I just haven’t had a moment to do that yet. Meanwhile, two recent articles are:

If you have an organization or an activist you’d like to see profiled on the blog, or if you’d like to write a guide on how to get involved in a cause you’re passionate about, please email submit@activismmyway.com.

Just A Sec(ular) Homeschooler

This new blog has been launched. It will pick up steam as we get ready for the school year. This blog covers all aspects of homeschooling in general and the considerations those wishing to do so without any religious bias included in their schooling materials need to take into account. Recent posts include:

If you have a children’s or young adult’s book you would like me to review, a secular curriculum you’d like to review, or you’d like to network and see how we can work together, email justasechs@gmail.com.

Guest Blog Posting

I have a guest blog I did through the Just a Secular Homeschooler blog up at the Minnesota Country Girl blog. The title was “Gardening with Kids When You’re Not a Gardener.

Fiction

Dances With Crazy is almost finished (about 90% there), and I need to go back through and edit it before starting to put together a book submission package for it.  I’m working my way through editing the stories in Indier Gray and Other Stories, which will be a self-published collection, since many of the stories appeared in part on my website in the past.

I have a fun story about a guy who decides to go to school to become a witch doctor in progress, a young adult novel, and a short story about a protesting grandmother all in various states of production.

I’m taking a break before finishing up Night Song, which may be the hardest thing I’ve ever written.

Non-Profit Work

Equanimity Magazine is holding its awards gala benefitting JB Dondolo, Inc. at the end of this month in Lewisville, TX. That’s happening July 28 at 6:00 pm. You can purchase tickets for the Equanimity Awards Benefit Gala here.

Ronda B. Handmade

I’m getting ready to load a bunch of goodies onto Etsy, and I’m looking at getting some new, fun, fabrics in to make some custom kids’ clothing. I picked up pattern testing again recently. Here are my two recent blog posts on that. I have some more fun announcements coming about this project.

What’s Next?

i’m sure I’m forgetting something. I always have various things going on (hence why I need a complex system for getting things done!) I have a half marathon I’m training for coming in October. If you have a project you’d like to consult or collaborate with me on, you can contact me at rbowen@writingresearchediting.com.

#MotivationMonday: Why You Need a Mantra for When You Hit the Wall

A couple of months ago, I ran my first 12k race. At around mile 6 (the race is 7.46 miles long), I started to question why I’d started the race. I wanted to know what made me think I could do such a thing – I was tired and ready to be done!

I kept moving, though. Both because I was highly motivated to finish and because my great coach was using a mantra to help motivate us to get to the end.

Likewise, in life, we sometimes hit the wall, and we don’t always have the option to take time off right then and there in order to recouperate and rejuvinate yourself.

Big goals may mean big walls

When you have big goals, it’s inevitable that at some point you’re going to hit a wall. What’s important is that you keep going. After all, when you have big goals, they’re not going to accomplish themselves. While sometimes the goal itself will motivate you to keep going,  sometimes you need something more.

Come up with a mantra

Come up with a mantra that you can say to help coach yourself along. (Here are some from Success Magazine). You should choose your mantra based on your situation. Running mantras are easier for me to come up with “just keep running” is one and “almost there is another.”

When working on professional goals, it’s important to come up with meaningful phrases. I like to use phrases like “just keep going” there, but I also find it important to focus on the big picture. “Success is just around the corner” is a good mantra to use or “I’m always moving closer to my goals” is another one.

See things through to the end

I know that it’s easy to get caught up on the latest greatest new thing, but when you start slacking on different goals, it can be hard to get going on all of your goals. Self-esteem starts to suffer when you don’t complete what you started. That’s one of the biggest reasons it’s so important to  come up with phrases to help you get through to the end. “Almsot there!”

What mantra do you use when you’re trying to push yourself through/motivate yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments!

#MotivationMonday: Plan Your Week for Success

Mondays are a great day to hit the ground running, but if you wait to plan your week until Monday, it’s likely that you’ll spend most of your Monday planning rather than working on what you want to accomplish for the week. Thus, it’s best to set time aside either on Friday or on Sunday to plan out the work week to come. I tend to plan out my week on Sundays unless I know that I’m going to have a hectic weekend. Then, I plan my week out on Friday afternoon.

Since I’m a fan of David Allen’s GTD, I always conduct a quick weekly review. This helps to ensure that no project falls through the cracks and that I’m on top of all my inboxes. Once I’ve finished the weekly review, I start planning my week out. What will I do when? What is my over-arching theme for the week? What has to be done this week? What would be nice to get done this week?

By planning my week out ahead of time, I can create a bit of a stir about the week to come. I really do get excited when I see everything I want to accomplish for the week, and when I think about what theme I want to focus on. Bit by bit, by planning my week this way, I move closer to completing my goals. I also am happy to say, that planning out my week helps me feel more motivated.

I do have one more component of planning my week, and that’s my weekly Monday morning meeting with my accountability partner. I will talk more about that next week.

How do you prepare for the week so that you look forward to the week to come?

#MotivationMonday Multiple Planners for Multiple Purposes

Part of getting things done involves staying on top of all the things that need to get done. As you can imagine, the more complex your life gets, the more help you need in staying on top of everything. Rather than carry everything around in my head, I like to follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done with a few other things thrown in. I keep projects organized, tasks grouped by context, etc. But I had a big problem: My calendar of “things” started to look really cluttered when I’d look at it.

So, I created multiple calendars for Outlook – one for each blog, one for my writing business, one for family stuff, etc.

Then, one day, my electronic calendars malfunctioned in Outlook. I couldn’t access them or my task lists because the program got a bug in it. I had to come up with something new.

Todoist, Trello, OneNote, Pocket, Airtable and Outlook 365

I use these programs to organize my active action items, projects, notes and research, article reading list, and appointments and deadlines. It may seem like overkill, but things are now working great. Appointments and deadlines go in Outlook 365, on the appropriate calendar for the project, and that’s synced up with my phone and my desktop email client. Project tasks are put into Trello. Project Notes go into OneNote. My reading list for professional development goes into Pocket so that I can read when I’m waiting around somewhere or during found time. Tasks I’m actively working on go in Todoist. Checklists, contacts, lists of books to read, etc. all go in Airtable.

The Physical “Planner Team”

I also have an analog system of tracking everything. At the beginning of each month, I make sure that I have all important deadlines and appointments on the calendar in the appropriate planners. My main planner gets everything – the other planners only get the deadlines and appointments applicable to that area of life. During my weekly reviews, I plan out the week in each appropriate planner. I have three notebooks, each with lists of current projects and project tasks as well as phone call notes  and brainstorming notes. I also have a fitness planner where I track my activity and food for the day.

When I’m working, I only have open the planner that goes along with the project I’m working on (i.e. the blog planner, the handmade business planner, etc.) This ensures I don’t get overwhelmed and distracted by other things.

What Works for You?

That’s my system, in a very brief nutshell, and it’s been working for me so far.
What’s your planner system? How’s it working for you?

#MotivationMonday Don’t Stop on the Coals

So there you are, in the middle of moving toward a big goal, and suddenly, things get hard – real hard. You want to give up. The hill seems insurmountable. The coals are too hot. Don’t stop, you’re almost there!

My Firewalk Experience

In 2011, I was undergoing a whirlwind of personal transformation. I’d left an abusive marriage, I’d found myself becoming more spiritual and attending a Methodist church, and I lost a significant amount of weight through falling in love with running. It only made since, then, that once I met Claudia Weber, I would walk across fire through her Ignite Your Spirit firewalk and motivational talk.

After a long talk, Claudia shouts, “What is your purpose?”
I yell back: “To get to the other side!”
“Go! Go! Go!” She and the other firewalkers shout after me. And go, I went. Here’s the video of that firewalk.

What I did not do, however, was stop in the middle of the coals. That would have been stupid.

I wound up going across those coals three times that night – and I wound up breaking an arrow with my neck. I really wanted to embrace a new life. Four days later, I met my now-husband. Almost a year later, we got married – and I talked him into the craziness of walking across hot burning wood chips with me hours after we got married.

You know what we didn’t do?

We didn’t stop on the coals. We still haven’t. And believe me, life has flung some flaming-hot coals at us.

What does walking across fire have to do with anything?

Since walking across fire, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been in the middle of working toward a goal – from a personal goal to a business goal, from a tough training run to a 5k, and I’ve thought, “Forget it, it’s too hard. I quit!” You know what happens? That voice pops in my head:
WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?

And I answer it, and I go, go, go. I don’t stop on the coals. I keep going, pushing further toward the other side, thinking only of the end result, until I get there.
So now, I turn to you. What is your purpose? Go! Get there! Do it!

Don’t stop on the coals.
Keep moving when it gets hard.
You’ve got this.

#MondayMotivation: Down Time is Just as Important as Productivity

Motivation Monday

Have you ever felt like no matter how bad you want to you just can’t get started because you’re stuck in what feels like several feet of mud? You may be suffering from burnout, particularly if you have been super-busy for a long-stretch. Burnout sucks! (And that’s to put it mildly). If you’ve ever suffered from it, you know how hard it is to get started again, and you know how badly you wish you could have avoided it.

Taking breaks is just as important as being productive. I know a lot of people throw the phrase “life balance” around, and it can seem like balance is just not possible, particularly in 2017. Here’s why you want to strive for it anyway: Your body and brain have a way of making you stop when you’re doing too much. Not only can you suffer from mental burnout and adrenal fatigue, but pushing too hard for too long can do long can lead to long-term physical effects including weight gain, heart problems, and depression.

What Do You Like to Do for Fun?

It’s amazing how many people cannot answer this question, but it’s so important to have things you enjoy – whether it’s getting out and taking a stroll in a park or it’s knitting.  Don’t say you like to work for fun – that’s just going to lead to more burnout – and if you do things you love for work (write, craft, etc.) make sure you have other things that you do to decompress.

Schedule Down Time Each Week

Put your down time on your calendar each week. If you schedule time for it, you’re more likely to do it. Consider making plans with a friend or family member to engage in the fun activity – that will help to keep you accountable.

If Your Schedule is Full, Say “No”

“No” is not a bad word. Look over your obligations. What do you already have on your plate? If you are already close to being booked or overbooked, there’s no shame in telling someone you don’t have the bandwidth right now. Even if you do decide to say “yes” now, make sure you don’t make a habit of overbooking yourself, and schedule some extra time off after the busy period is over.

What do you do to ensure you get breaks? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

#MondayMotivation – Getting Back on the Horse When You Fall

Recently, there was a lot going on (isn’t there always). The kids were sick, then I got sick. We had the oldest come in from college for Thanksgiving. I managed to overdo it while running the Turkey Trot a couple weeks ago, and then I managed to step funny on my foot, causing my knee to twist. Needless to say, by the time I finally made it back to my No Boundaries running group, it had been two weeks since I’d run.

First, You Have to Get Back Up

I cannot tell you how many times life has knocked me down. If I started to even talk about all the hurdles, you’d probably stop reading and walk away. I have tripped over a lot of hurdles, believe me. What’s important isn’t tripping. It isn’t being knocked down. It’s standing up, dusting yourself off, and continuing on your path. You won’t fail unless you decide you’re just not going to get up.

Sure, when I’m first knocked down, I talk a good game. “I’m never going to run again.” or “I’m done writing forever!” or the ever-so popular, “Maybe running a business isn’t for me.” But then, not even twenty minutes later, I’m signing up for a half-marathon, doing a word-sprint on my novel, or replying to the latest inquiry into my services and adding to my marketing plan.

Take Quitting off the Table

Just take it off. Even if you feel like you want to quit, it’s not an option if you want to be successful in the endeavor you’re undertaking. Fall down once, get up once. Fall down fifty times, get up fifty times. Take whatever caused you to fall as a lesson, figure out how you can prevent it in the future, and adjust your course of travel.

I keep getting up because quitting just isn’t an option – even if I entertain the idea for a moment or two once in a while when things get tough. Instead, I take a brutally honest look at where I went wrong and then recommit myself to my goal.

Get Back on *a* Horse

Sometimes, it is true that a particular horse is not the horse for you. Perhaps a business idea you thought was viable just isn’t viable or your knees really cannot withstand the impact from running. When life deals those cards, it’s time to take a deep breath, evaluate what you can do about the situation, and modify your course. Don’t stop! Just because this horse isn’t for you doesn’t mean there isn’t a horse that you’re more compatible with. Find that horse, get on it, and get on your way once you’ve given yourself time to regroup and recover.

What do you do when things get in the way of your success? Share your thoughts in the comments.

#MotivationMonday Baby Steps Get You There

This past weekend, I ran my first race since April, 2013. It was 2 miles, and while I’m in the process of training for a 5K, I just started that training a couple of weeks ago. Halfway through the race – at about the one mile mark – I started to wonder why I had done this to myself. Why did I sign up for a race so soon into my training? (Moreover, why did I sign up for two!?! I’m running again on Thanksgiving). Then I summoned my energy: I just needed to get to the finish line.

There are a lot of steps in two miles. It can seem like a huge distance, but the thing is, it’s only a huge distance if you let it be. If you focus solely on the next step, soon, you’ll reach that finish line.

Goals are a lot like distance running.

When you have a big goal, it can seem big, scary, hairy, and audacious. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming. If you’ve already made sure that the goal you’ve set is SMART, then you’re halfway there. Just like a race has a start and finish, it’s important for your goal to have a clearly marked start and finish. Making your goals SMART does this. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

There are a few different variations of the acronym, but the idea is the same – you need to have concrete goals. “Become a raging success” isn’t very helpful.  There is no clear start and no clear finish. You can’t make a marked path to get to the end. It’s just a cloudy idea. Trying to make that goal happen will just lead you to be lost off in the woods somewhere wondering how you got there.

Goals need milestones

If you only know where the start and the finish for your race are, you’re able to get there – eventually. Having a marked race path, however, helps you get there efficiently, and with a defined path, you’ll know exactly where you stand at any point in the race. For example, when I started questioning my sanity in the 2-miler, I knew I was halfway to the finish line. I knew I just had to make my body work for me for one more mile. Had I not seen the mile marker, I may have been less motivated to finish.

How will you know that you’re on the correct path to meeting your goal? Creating milestones can help. By looking at your goal and determining what milestones you will have for the goal, you can start to map out the path to success.

Milestones need actions

Once you’ve created your goal’s milestones, you can create the actions necessary for meeting each milestone, and ultimately, for meeting your goal. The action items define the exact path you need to take between each milestone to get to the goal’s finish line. These are the baby steps you will take toward making your dreams come true. Try to make your action items as small as possible. Write them as complete sentences. You should be able to know exactly what needs to be done to call that action item done.

By taking time to plan out your goals, you have a greater likelihood of seeing them through to completion.

What goals are you working on meeting right now? Share in the comments section.

 

 

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