Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

10,000 More Hours

A few weeks ago, I posted about how practicing leads to success. (If you missed it, you can read it here.) I talked about the 10,000 hour rule which is the belief that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become proficient at anything. I referred to an article on Brainpickings.com that pointed out that the quality of the time spent is as important as the amount of time spent when it comes to becoming a pro though.

Jeff Goins, blogging and platform guru, believes that habits are built over time. And make no mistake, success is a habit. He talks about the Japanese practice of continually seeking steady progress called kaizen.

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He suggests starting our small, extremely small. And through the process of very small steps, you will achieve success. Taking a giant leap of faith and quitting your job to pursue your writing career or to join a rock band may seem like a grand romantic gesture. But success doesn’t usually come along with a sudden bang. It takes time. It takes repeated baby steps.

This process is the way that I finished and self-published my first book, though I didn’t have a name for it at the time. I had been holding on to this big romantic dream of becoming a writer and seeing my words in print for so long that I was frozen. I was terrified and confused and could not bring myself to take action. It was through baby steps that I finally found my feet again and started to move in the right direction.

I made a list of tasks in the smallest increments. Contact one editor. Google copyright. Make appointment with accountant. Write “about author” page. Then I assigned these tasks to monthly and weekly goals. I saved these plans in a Word document title “Big Goals.” 🙂 As I completed each task, I put an X next to it. If life got crazy and I had to re-evaluate my week, I would do so and reassign my tasks. And most important, I would forgive myself for not getting it all done at once.

The process took over a year. I was working on certifications for my day job at the same time and I had to allot weeks to the work involved in my online class and certification exam. During some of those weeks, I didn’t have the time or energy to even think about my book. I tried to schedule those months as ones when my editor would have the book so I wouldn’t feel like my writing had completely stalled.

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And guess what? It worked! Some weeks I felt like the baby steps were too small. And if that happened, I would do some tasks from the next week as well. Other times, I felt overwhelmed by even the simplest thing. And when that happened, I went with it, and scheduled some much needed down time to decompress.

Through this series of small steps and these hours of practice I managed to achieve a lifelong dream. I published my book. Sometimes I felt like I was moving so slow, I was standing still. Other moments felt like they were flying by and Launch Day was running toward me at warp speed!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, or if you have a Big Goal that you just can’t seem to progress on, try this process. Baby steps. Break it down into small manageable increments. Reward yourself for accomplishing them. You got this. 🙂

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4 Comments

  1. Excellent advice, Cheryl, and applicable to just about anything in life. Personally, I like the rewarding-yourself part. 😉

    • I am BIG on rewards! The first book I wrote, I rewarded myself every 10,000 words – a massage, a book on writing craft, some little writing knick knack to decorate my writing space. It worked!!

  2. So true. Great reminder – thank you 🙂 H xx

    • So glad this resonated with you! It’s always good to remind ourselves that it takes time and oh so much energy to do this writing thing. 😊

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