Recipe for Success
Whether you have to do it as a student or choose to do it as a professional, writing is a pursuit that comes with special challenges. Writers constantly face some of the greatest fears human beings have: fear of rejection and fear of failure.
Navigating around the obstacles requires more than talent, education, or luck. It takes a higher level of self-awareness and personal power. It isn’t enough to think positive; you have to be positive.
This is why the Recipe for Success calls for equal amounts of mind, body, and spirit.
What we say to ourselves or picture in our minds has a huge impact on how we feel and how we act. Success coach Anthony Robbins does an exercise with his clients. He has them stand up and look over their shoulder, turning their upper body as far as they can. Then, he has them go back to their starting position. This time, before they turn, in their minds he instructs them to envision themselves turning even farther. When they turn their bodies the second time, they find themselves able to reach even farther behind them than they could before.
More and more science is proving that what we envision in our minds directly affects our outward reality. To make sure you’re giving yourself the best possible chances of success, you need to eliminate any negative internal messages.
Affirmations are one way to do this. Louise Hay, founder of Hay House publishers, recommends the affirmation, “I love and approve of myself.” It’s a simple phrase that you can repeat to yourself over and over all day. You can use it to replace negative thoughts or when something frustrates or upsets you. Try it and see how well it calms your nerves and lifts your spirits. For even more boost, try saying it to yourself in the mirror.
Some people feel awkward repeating affirmations if they don’t feel they believe what they’re saying. But you don’t need to believe it right away. In many twelve-step programs recovering addicts and their families recite the steps at every meeting. When a person first starts attending meetings, they don’t even understand the steps let alone believe them. But slowly, one by one, they start to make sense. Though some affirmations may seem too big for you right now, like a kid with new school clothes, you may find yourself growing into them.
As writers, we may be tempted to live too much in the mind. The body holds enormous power to help us achieve our goals. Not only do we need to keep our bodies healthy with good food and exercise, but deep breathing is another important way to nourish them.
Each time you sit down to write, take several slow deep breaths before you start. Take a long inhale, hold your breath for just a second or two, then breathe out more quickly. Breathing this way forces more oxygen into your body tissues, including the brain, and will keep you positive and energized.
Any time you start to feel negative, it’s a good idea to get up and move. This can mean anything from walking to the window and looking out, to going outside for a walk, to getting in the car and going somewhere else. Physical activity creates positive chemicals in the body that improve mood very quickly. And a change of scenery literally gives you a new perspective.
You might try keeping a small set of weights or an aerobics step in your writing space to use as a stress reliever. In Walking in This World, sequel to The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends a weekly walk to gather your thoughts and stay positive.
Self-help author Wayne Dyer explains the word “inspired” as meaning literally “in spirit.” The single best tool for achieving success, as well as defining what it means for you, is having a daily spiritual practice.
A spiritual practice doesn’t need to involve traditional religion, although it may. Each of finds different ways to connect with a power greater than ourselves and understands that power in different ways.
It might mean spending time in nature, reading scripture or inspirational literature, prayer, meditation, journaling, yoga, or labyrinth walking. Life coach Cheryl Richardson in her book Take Time for Your Life has a great chapter on developing your own daily spiritual practice. Find what works best for nurturing your spirit and make it a part of your daily routine, an absolute must-do like showering or brushing your teeth.
Another important aspect of maintaining spiritual health is giving of yourself. Donating your money or time will help you to keep your perspective. It’s rare to find a highly successful person who doesn’t engage in charity of some kind. For more on the benefits of giving financially, read
How Will Giving Away Money Help my Writing Career?
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