From Intention to Action: Turning resolutions into reality

It’s that time of year again. You’re either rolled up in fetal position on the floor or writing a list of New Year’s resolutions. Some of you writing resolutions might prefer to be rolled up in fetal position, and those of you on the floor wouldn’t change places with the resolution writers for a million dollars.

What is this compulsion that drives us every January 1st? How predictable are we that gyms do much of their advertising in January and then again a few months later when our bright, shiny beginnings have tarnished and crusted over and there is empty floor space to be filled.

For me, writing resolutions has always been a fun ritual. There’s something about writing a thought down on paper that makes it more attainable. That’s been true in many areas of my life. However, we all have those things that are especially difficult to achieve. Sometimes the writing of the goal isn’t enough to get us there. And our good intentions, no matter how strong, can’t motivate us to “Just Do It.”

That dilemma led me to think about how I had approached other goals in my life—ones that had been attained. For example, I hadn’t just thought about working for myself and ended up with a successful business. It was accomplished by breaking the goal into manageable chunks. Of course, I didn’t realize I was doing that 19 years ago, but in hindsight it’s obvious. So, why not do the same to finally achieve the goals that have been regulars on too many of my annual lists?

Writing “I will eat healthier, write regularly, and work out more” hasn’t been enough on its own to make those dreams a reality. But taking intermediate actions to bridge the gap between intention and action has proved to be successful.

For example, I’ve become quite regular with my exercise, following the “don’t skip more than 2 days in a row” rule. But sometimes, even though I know I’m going to feel great once I do it, I just don’t feel like working out. I’ve found a trick—something very simple—that gets great results for me. What do I do when exercise apathy hits?

I put on my workout clothes.

Yup.

That’s it.

There’s something about the act of getting dressed to work out that begins the momentum. Once I’m dressed, I’m going to feel like crap if I take off my workout clothes without having exercised. I know it sounds crazy, but follow the logic. The act of putting on those clothes is a prerequisite to working out, so it gets me one step further along the path to actually performing the desired action.

I decided to try out this trick in another area of my life. After thinking for the umpteenth time that I needed to get to the library to do some writing, I packed up my Neo, a printout of my manuscript, and my supply case in a bag and left it by the stairs leading down to my front door. Every time I walked through the living room, I saw that bag. Eventually, I put on my coat, grabbed my bag, and WALKED to the library. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone? 😉

Which leads me to my “eating better” resolution. If you studied my eating habits on paper, you’d think you were looking at the records of two different people. From dawn till dusk, I am the model of good paleo nutrition. After the sun sets, it’s like my inner Carb vampire emerges. I want Cookies, or Cake, or ice Cream, or Chocolate. The letter “C” is evil, isn’t it? 🙂

So, I began questioning why it’s so easy to stay on track during the day. And I realized it’s because my breakfast and lunch are prepared in advance and carted to work and dinner is planned out as well. If I’ve carried meals with me, it’s unlikely that I’ll get something else at the cafeteria. And in fact, I don’t. So, the answer may be to plan and pack up a healthy snack for each evening so I don’t indulge by whim. Whim is a very bad thing when combined with food. At least for me it is.

If you happen to enjoy experimenting with yourself as the guinea pig, let me know how these ideas work out for you. Most important, keep it positive. Don’t focus on what you won’t do. Rather stay focused on what you will do. There’s a theory that your subconscious mind doesn’t recognize a negative. So, for example, if you say I will not eat cookies at night, all your mind hears is I will eat cookies at night. That minor design flaw has been wrecking diets around the world. Just to be on the safe side, focus on what you will do. “I will eat berries and Greek yogurt at snack time.” Or whatever your intention is.

Last but not least, be gentle with yourself. Life is a process. We get to grand places by taking little steps.

Happy New Year.

Feel free to share your tips and successes.

Marketing or Madness? You be the judge.

That there is the Ron Popeil of book promotion.

Who is that crazy man hanging upside down, you ask? My dad, of course. Hi Dad. 😀

For the record, I’ve warned my parents that any information that comes my way may end up in a blog. Now I think they just might be tempting fate. When this photo showed up in my inbox last night, well…you can’t make this stuff up.

Here’s what mom’s email said:

I just got an urgent call from Dad in the basement, which requested that I bring my camera. Being the helpful person I am, I hopped right to it – and this is what I found:

Dad reading “The Benefactor” on the Kindle while on the inversion table with Marilyn in the background and the name of the book indicated on the alphabet play mat.

Should I send for a psychiatrist?

Um, well, maybe.

Needless to say, I howled with laughter. That’s truly inspired, dad. And inspirational. It’s been a little over a year since my romantic suspense novel The Benefactor was published, and I admit it’s been a learning experience trying to balance promoting the book with writing my next novel. Midway through the year, I started to devote more time to the writing part. But Dad has reminded me that as long as my book (baby) is out there, it needs to be promoted (nurtured). So, my very first new year’s resolution is to do just that.

The Benefactor is available in both print and e-formats (including Kindle). Check out my website http://margaretreyesdempsey.com for information on the book, reviews, excerpts, etc. Here’s a blurb to whet your appetite:

They say the truth will set you free…

After her parents’ tragic deaths, eight-year-old Kate Barrett began receiving anonymous gifts from someone called Secret Friend. Years later, after landing a challenging job and the apartment of her dreams, she is caught off guard when another package shows up at her now unlisted address. Troubled that someone is watching her every move, she sets out to discover the stranger’s identity.

The pressure rises when a coworker’s flirtatiousness crosses the line and Kate makes a disturbing discovery at work. Just when things couldn’t get more bizarre, love comes from a surprising direction, and shocking clues to the mystery surface in an unthinkable place. But nothing can prepare Kate for the truth about Secret Friend, the deaths of her parents, and how her destiny has been cunningly manipulated.

One of my goals in promoting my book has always been to give back to the community. As such, all of the net proceeds from my book signings have gone to causes such as Pediatric MS (bet you didn’t know kids could get multiple sclerosis), literacy, donations to schools, etc. If anyone out there would like to partner with me for a charity event, feel free to contact me at Margaret@MargaretReyesDempsey.com.

Happy New Year! Wishing you many creative moments in 2011.

Manifesto

A talented artist I know, Jon L. Adams, includes a personal manifesto on his website. It got me thinking about what I believe and how I want to live. I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list, but for now, here it is:

Love is a renewable energy source. Keep giving it away. You’ll never run out.

Ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.

Listen like you don’t have another thing to do.

Words can be lethal weapons. Choose them wisely. Once spoken, they can never be taken back.

Give away the last dollar in your pocket. It will come back to you tenfold.

Protect those who can’t protect themselves.

Live, work, and love with passion.

If you hate your life, stop complaining and make a new one.

Unstick those tight muscles, work that jaw, and smile.

When you’re outside, really breathe.

Daydream often. What can be visualized can become reality.

Believe in a force greater than yourself. Call it what you will.

Find the gem in everyone you meet, even if you have to dig through a ton of coal.

Believe people when they tell you who they are. But then look beyond their faulty self-vision.

Never mistake a thin, sheetrock wall for an impenetrable fortress. If there’s a moat and the drawbridge isn’t lowered, swim across. Most people want to be found.

Watch a child sleep. There’s no greater peace.

When a friend can’t stand on his own, carry him on your back.

Giving is its own reward.

Show appreciation always.

Tell/show people you love them always.

Respect yourself and others.

Sit still in nature every day and appreciate the miracle around you.

Try new things and meet new people.

Read, read, read, and learn.

Write, write, write. There is nothing that can’t be worked through once it’s written on a piece of paper.

Fight injustice wherever it rears its ugly head.

Laugh.

Laugh some more.

Apologize sooner rather than later. Less time wasted.

Eat really good food and work those muscles.

Grow old gracefully.