We talk a lot about habits. The reason for that is because, typically, when my authors fail, they fail here. It’s not in their writing. They don’t need a magic outline to save them–though, I do like helping there, but an outline is only an outline. They fail at the habit level.
I know this because A) I was a project manager for 20+ years and B) I fail there, too!
Too often, we try to tackle way too many changes way too fast. When we do that, we set ourselves up for a cycle of failure. And that’s something we need to stop doing. Obviously. I mean, failing is a learning experience. But what do we really learn by failing here?
Change is bad. Stick with what you know. Just work harder.
Not great. Right?
Well, instead of changing big, let’s go small.
A keystone habit is a small change you introduce to your habit/work systems that alters the intent for your day.
One of my bad keystone habits is checking my messages when I’m still in bed. For the Real Indie Author boss—that’s me—it’s important to make sure you guys are taken care of. I’m in Alaska now, so when I’m rolling out of bed at 4 a.m., it’s mid-morning for the folks on the east coast where a lot of you are. If I sleep in to my normal waking time (7 a.m.), then it’s noon. If I leave some of you hanging until noon, you can get a bit grumpy because, in your mind, the day is half-over.
The author boss—also me—is trying to get to a point where I write first thing in the morning. I’m trying to get that Miracle Morning routine where I wake up early, get my writing done, and then focus on my clients. I’m also trying to shut you guys off at 5:30 – 6 p.m., and then not pick you guys up again. What you don’t know is that for the past 2 ½ years, you guys were my every waking moment. That’s one of the reasons Real Indie Author survived this long, but it’s also taking a toll. I need to write. I’m a writer.
So, I’m trying to strike that chord of balance between both of my bosses. I work 14+ hour days on you guys and have since 2017. I need some of those hours to be for me. You guys have trained me well and my author-knowledge has grown incredibly because of all th the investments you and I have pulled together. But now it’s time to let that show. It’s hard to let go of, though. For 2+ years, you were the first thing I thought of in the morning and the last thing I worried about as I went to sleep. I would dream up solutions to your books in my sleep. So, it’s natural to me to check my messages, the FB group, the community, my emails first thing in the morning, oftentimes before I even roll out of bed.
But what that does is puts me in the RIA mindset when I sit down to write my chapters first thing in the morning. By the time I’ve gotten dressed and walked over to the office, shoveled snow if needed, made my first cup of coffee, fed the cat, and booted up the computer, I’m already thinking of the things I need to do to help you guys run more efficiently for your day.
Change Small, Go Big
The thing about focusing on keystone habits is that if you pick just one keystone habit to change, you can make a big difference.
If you start too big, you will change small if at all.
The reason for that is because you’re fighting yourself.
Three months ago, I decided to stop checking my messages when I woke up. For three days, things went well. I got one to two of my own chapters done each morning. Things were great.
But by day four, I couldn’t do it. I felt the need to check my messages. I needed to know my authors were doing okay. You were, by the way. You were all doing just fine. But I couldn’t focus on my work without checking for any messages. The reason I was fighting myself was because I’d changed a whole bunch of things at once.
I instituted the “closed RIA business at 6p.m.” routine and didn’t allow myself to reboot my computer for RIA business. Well, frankly, any business. It was family time. I’d also started taking classes in the morning to switch me over from my writing time to RIA time. That’s a hard transition, frankly.
I’d also started getting up an hour earlier to get my writing done in my Miracle Morning.
I’d also decided to cut creamer out of my coffee.
And to eat more vegetables.
And to stand more while working.
And to knit while dictating instead of crocheting.
The list goes on. I implemented a lot of changes.
Now, some of those have stuck, but most of them didn’t. And I didn’t feel a huge impact with all those massive changes. I didn’t lose weight. My energy levels didn’t dramatically increase. And I didn’t start producing chapters on a regular basis.
Guys, I can write 60,000 words on a regular basis a week. Can you imagine how many books I could write with those word counts? Dude. Seriously.
Where To Start
After I failed… epically, I decided to take a look at what keystone habits I’d tried to implement, and which one would have the greatest effect. Really, it was Becca Syme who pulled my head out of my rump. That woman is amazing. If you get the chance to take her Write Faster-Better class, do it. It’s great!
The change in hours stayed. I think the reason for that is because my mind, body, and soul needed me to find a viable solution in that area. The schedule I created to get this business started is… it’s exhausting. I work every day. I’m constantly trying to find better ways for you guys to thrive so you can do more and be successful with less. So, I’m test-driving things. I’m taking classes—some of which don’t pan out. I’m wasting my time, my money so you can be more efficient. The hours had to change. I realize it’s possibly annoying for some of you because my late afternoon is bedtime for you, but something had to give. The smallest change I could think of that made the most lasting change for my writing career was not checking my messages or emails until RIA time. I put myself in the F.J. Blooding mindset before I went to bed, and then stayed in that mindset until 9 a.m. the next morning.
I did that this week—even with everything that happened on our end—and it worked! I was able to write (5) new F.J. Blooding chapters!
Next week, I want to bump that. See if I can do (2) chapters twice next week. Not on Wednesday because that’s a horrible energy day for me. But Tuesday and Thursday, maybe? I think I can do it.