Third grade gym class is vivid in my mind. I remember the rope; the thick, heavy rope which reached from ceiling to floor. Every gym class we had the opportunity to climb it to the top, touch the beam and descend in victory. It was then we’d have our name written out in big bold letters on a white card and affixed to the wall of the gym.
Man, such high hopes I had of making it. I mean, I’d watched others do it with ease; climb like monkeys and ascend with proud smiles. Dang it, I wanted that. So I tried. I really did and it never failed—halfway up my heart would begin to race, palms would sweat (this is not good when you’re gripping a rope), I would look down and think, oh, crap, I am gonna fall and splatter on the teacher’s good, blue mat. I would quickly ascend to where it was safe and take my place with the others who had failed; and there were many.
Years later and much too late to climb that rope again I realized the key to the success of the ones who did reach the sky: focus. Those who achieve goals aren’t always looking back, or focusing on how far they have to go, they focus on the moment and keep the goal in their head. They don’t look at the ones who didn’t make it and think it’s cool if they don’t. They know most won’t. They are intent and deliberate in their pursuit.
As a writer there are so many things to distract me. I work a fulltime job to pay the bills and now after finally finishing my novel I must focus on marketing, promotion and everything else. When I look at it in one big chunk, sometimes I just want to take my place on that preverbal mat next to the others and say, done. But I won’t. I can’t. You can’t. You won’t. Here are the ways to stay on task:
- Write out your goals and add objectives to them; in other words how you will go about achieving the goals.
- Plan the day. Don’t let the day get a grip on you as you meander wondering what to do. I have a list of things to accomplish each day. Sometimes they don’t always get done, but at least I have a plan and there’s always the next day.
- Remember that success is not something all will experience. Many times you will have to work while others are sleeping or playing or doing nothing. You will crave their ‘freedom’ at first but will be thankful for your discipline later.
- Allow yourself room to fail. Sometimes you will fall short—many times you will. Forgive yourself, get up and keep going. Sulking is the enemy of the soul.
- Surround yourself with people who understand your goals, tune out those with negative input.
- Pray often. God will direct you and give you wisdom beyond your human imagination. Often He will impart instructions right into your soul; listen, listen, listen.