What Will You Finish in 2013?

Where’s the Fuss?

A few days ago I handed over the final draft of my latest book to my publisher. Well, metaphorically anyway. What literally happened was I pressed ‘send’; as authors do in 2013-ish. 80,000 words (or so) and to be honest, it was something of an anti-climactic moment. Not sure what I had imagined but it was a little underwhelming. No fanfare. No applause. No acknowledgment. No back slaps.

Quite disconcerting for the only child.

Eight months of work. Creative and cognitive overload. A sore back, sore eyes, lots of solitude, far too much sitting and a few neglected friends. Nothing life-threatening of course, but throw the mayhem that is the rest of my life (radio gigs, blogging, speaking, travel, coaching, business meetings, running a gym and trying to stay in shape) into the mix and it’s been an… interesting time.

Over the last few months, many people have said things like:

“I don’t know how you do it.”
“I could never do that.”
“I couldn’t concentrate for that long.”

To be completely honest, the truth is that sometimes writing a book is a pain in the arse. Literally and metaphorically. At times, it’s exhausting. Frustrating. Uncomfortable. Lonely. Scary. And sometimes, it’s amazing. Exciting. Euphoric. Fun. Satisfying.

Kind of like life.

Sometimes the price of getting the job done (whatever the ‘job’ is), is significant. And while we might be exhilarated once we arrive at our destination, the human condition means that the journey will often be full of pot holes, detours, road blocks and steep hills.

There’s a familiar saying…

“Getting started is the hardest part.”

You’ve heard that right?

Unfortunately, it’s a crap saying. Misleading rubbish.

Starting is relatively easy. We do it all the time. Some of us do it every Monday. Of the year! We change our eating habits. For a week. We enrol in a course. We drop out. We start running. We stop. We take guitar lessons. For a month.  We cut back on alcohol. For a while. And we’ve all read hundreds of books. Well, the first chapter anyway.

Here’s a more informed and realistic paradigm:

“In respect to creating lasting change in our world… creating new non-negotiable habits, maintaining momentum (even in the absence of motivation) and finishing what we started… is the hardest part.”

Sure, it’s a little word-y and far less sexy (than the first saying) but it’s the truth.

So, yesterday I was asked how I keep keeping-on. That is, how I stay proactive, productive and empowered to finish my book (or any project for that matter), even in those times when the fun, excitement and enthusiasm have subsided. Or disappeared altogether. Good question.

So here’s my answer:

1. I weigh up the cost. Before I commit to any endeavour, I conduct a cost-benefit analysis, of sorts. That is, I identify and acknowledge my likely investment and the likely return. Before I commit to writing any book, I will thoughtfully consider and accept the cost.   

2. I get things done early in the day. Being productive in the morning puts me in a better place mentally, emotionally and practically for the rest of my day. I am often writing by six.

3. I approach each challenge logically and strategically. While writing a book is largely a creative process, I am also totally realistic and practical about the time, energy, commitment and sacrifice required to transform my theoretical something (ideas, thoughts, philosophies) into a successful commercial product.

4. I work in instalments. When it comes to writing, I’m typically most productive when I’m working in one to two hour blocks with regular time-outs. Those time-outs could incorporate anything from a workout to a power-nap, a cappuccino to a phone call, a meal to a massage or something as mundane (and relaxing) as watering my garden. When I sit down to write, I usually set myself time-based goals. For example, if I start writing at six in the morning, I’ll probably set myself the target of writing until eight. I’ll then stroll to the café, reward myself with a coffee and be back at my keyboard for another instalment by eighty forty-five. It’s not rocket science but it works for me.

5. I start with the end in mind. Since early March this year, I have known that the good folk at Penguin Publishing were expecting me to send them a finished product on (or about) November 30. For me, having a non-negotiable deadline helps with organisation, structure, accountability and motivation. Working to a clearly defined time frame makes it all very absolute. I’m of the opinion that a little urgency and pressure can bring out the best in us.

6. I totally commit. For me, commitment means total emotional and psychological buy in to the goal or task. No reneging, no turning back and no bull-shitty excuses. I go happily into the process with an understanding that it won’t always be a fun, comfortable or enjoyable experience.

 7. I improvise and adapt. Writing a book around all my other professional obligations means that being adaptable is a prerequisite. I’m determined to find a way in the middle of my busy-ness. I have written in hotel rooms, taxis, airport lounges, planes, cafes and conference centres while I’m waiting to do a gig. I have written at 2pm and 2am. If I have my laptop and some time, I’m good to go.

So…

If you’re like the majority, then you’ve got goals and dreams for 2013. Just like every other New Year, there are things you want achieve, address and change. But just like the multitudes, you’ve been here before. It’s familiar territory. The relevant question is not ‘what will you start’ but rather…

What will you finish in 2013?

*I’ll be taking a break from the blogosphere for a week or two, so I’d like to wish you all a healthy, happy and safe Christmas and New Year. Thanks for your support this year and I look forward to connecting with you in 2013.

Craig x :)

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Mel December 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I am determined to learn to play the guitar. made me laugh when I saw it in this post. I have wanted to learn since I was 5. I am now 37. Time for this semi old dog to learn a new trick. I have told myself at times this is going to suck and I am going to want to give up when my fingers hurt etc but I am committed to doing it. Bring it.

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Anonymous December 23, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Congratulations on finishing your book. Greatly looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the advice about how to keep keeping on. Hope you have a happy Christmas. x

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chebbieanne December 23, 2012 at 11:56 pm

I dont want to actually finish anything for me, so much, by the end of 2013, except maybe still being around, but I so want to start many things happening for so many people. I hope to get people to be so much more aware of the stuff they can make happen in their world.
I want them to feel their real power and harness it and move forward through the fear to victory.
There is so much potential out there and I know I won’t see it all happen but if I can get others to get started in the right direction that is enough.
Life is a one time event – run to win!

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Sulagna December 24, 2012 at 1:53 am

Absolutely inspirational Craig! … This just goes to show how simple rules can transform our lives. :)

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Jude December 24, 2012 at 4:52 am

Wishing you, your family and your staff a very happy and safe Christmas and holiday season and all the best for 2013..
Looking forward to your motivational posts next year. xx

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caz December 24, 2012 at 6:56 am

thanks Craig for another year of helping make the complicated, uncomplicated.
Have a great Xmas and New Year, catching up with those neglected friends.

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Grasshopper December 24, 2012 at 6:56 am

Wow! Perfect, love it, just what we all need to hear! Such commitment! I’m inspired! Can’t wait for your book! Wondering how long the publishing process takes! I know it will be worth the wait! Now please reward yourself big time! Enjoy your Christmas break & New year before you start it all again! Take care…..Grasshopper :) x

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Grasshopper December 24, 2012 at 6:59 am

Woops! Sorry, had trouble sending that, it went twice! Well I am Irish, To be sure, to be sure! Lol! X

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Chris Howard December 24, 2012 at 7:57 am

Well done. It is quite sobering to assess what hasn’t been finished. It all comes back to setting goals. Enjoy your hard earned break. Look forward to more pearls next year.

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Trish B December 24, 2012 at 9:14 am

Thanks for yet another timely post. No. 1 really resonated with me because in the last couple of months I overcommitted on the work front and am exhausted as a result. Note to self: learn to say ‘no’!

Merry Christmas Craig and to everyone who is fortunate enough to benefit from his posts. Cheers, Trish.

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Enrico December 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

Merry Christmas and may 2013 bring you everthing you want out of life!!! Take Care and thank you for the blogs :)

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Damo December 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

congrats on finishing the book craig, thankyou for the awesome service you provide, im finishing the best development year of my life and with what ive put in place thanks to you and some other coaches, it will be no turning back. merry christmas to you and all who read this.

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Kelly December 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Great finish to the year. Thanks Craig.

Merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone on this list.

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Di December 24, 2012 at 12:39 pm

No.. thank YOU Craig. Your words have the effect of turning up the volume in my inner voice.. exactly what I need to hear! Great work :)

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Anonymous December 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Well done on completing the book. I am still thinking about it, although I have written a first 300 words about two months ago, since then, lots of thoughts.
To you, CH and your family, and all others who are always helping, best wishes for a Merry Christmas followed by a happy safe and respectful new year.
To all bloggers, the same best wishes for Christmas and new year. And everybody be sure to give your Mum, Dad and children a hug followed by another hug for Christmas.

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Candy December 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Happy happy merry jingle bells Mr Harper & team :-)

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Michael December 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

You said you were going to post a lot over this period of time? Not happy. *but happy new year anyway ;)

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Suu December 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Merry Christmas to you, your family and extended mob of good guys, and our family on here.

I’m aiming to be at goal weight in the middle of February and it won’t end there. :) I’ll be within 2kg of goal at the end of my life!

Thanks to everyone on here for your indepth thoughts and insights throughout 2012 and may we all be stronger, wiser, and happier tomorrow.
Lovenhugs,
Suu xx

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Trolley Wife December 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

Well done on your new book, I also look forward to reading it. I look forward to completely mastering the current job I have, or if not a great fit, changing roles.

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Anonymous December 29, 2012 at 12:23 am

Well done Craig, a great “lead by example” effort.
Happy New Year, and wishing you fun times ahead too.

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Gullu December 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Thank you for your words of wisdom, inspiration and the occasssional comedy factor. I absolutely love my daily “Craig” fix and I sure would not have been the person I am today, if it had not been for you and this site.

Wishing you and all the other readers a safe & happy period, looking forward to a bigger & better 2013.

One of your biggest fans, Gullu.

O

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