Ooo, time for me to say something crazy….
Live as though you already have the life you are dreaming of.
I like that face you’re making. It’s the whole reason I have this adorable habit of circling the point (you know, like a vulture eyeing a body on the ground to make sure it’s really dead). Lol, so I’m going to say a few things and I want you to embrace how ridiculous they are because, I promise you, I have a point, it’s a good one, and you can apply it to pretty much anything.
I’ll eat better when I’m skinny.
I’ll work out when I’m not feeling so fat.
I don’t want to date anyone right now; I’m too busy envisioning that wonderful relationship I’ll have with my perfect partner.
I told you they were silly. They are also a good example of how our brains work to sabotage us and that is the point of this little rant. First, some background. A year ago, two years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago, you could have asked me what I wanted to be and I would have said ‘a bestselling author’. No hesitation at all. And, just to highlight ridiculous things, I’ve actually had people say they will only read my books when I’m a bestselling author. Because I’m going to care what they think then. Right. Well, I don’t care so much now, so, all things considered, no big loss.
Anyway. I would have told you what I wanted and, well, you might even have believed me, but I can look back and see I didn’t believe myself and this looking back thing is something I recently did, though sort of on accident. I joined a group of writers planning a massive character blog story site set in a fictional town and I was talking to one of the other writers who noted how nervous they were and how out of character this was for them, which prompted me to say ‘I was the same way up to about three months ago’. And, as usual, that one fast response led me down the path of deep thought because it’s true. Three months ago you would be more likely to see me jump off a bridge into a shallow river full of glass than join this group, never mind plan two characters for it and make an initial test post. Hell, I wouldn’t have been nearly comfortable enough to write about it in my blog, which I most likely would have abandoned at this point.
My thinking did not take me down the writing path, really. It was more down the law of attraction and understanding how it works path. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to tuck your toes behind your ears and chant to magic your dreams to reality. In fact, reality and dreams are often massively different, as any parent who had pretty, pastel dreams of parenthood can tell you once they have been introduced to the mad, wild, decidedly muddy waters of actual parenthood. And that, my lovelies, is where we are going. This is about our personal stars and how to align them instead of praying for magic.
So, we humans do this thing. We picture our goals and how life will be once we have it and we say these ridiculous things like ‘I want to lose weight’ while shoveling in massive quantities of mashed potatoes and praying to the indigestion gods. What we say we want and our actual reality are at complete odds and guess which one is going to win every time. Then we hop on fad diets, lose weight, go back to the mashed potatoes, gain the weight back, wash, rinse, repeat, forever.
Or maybe not. If we catch the trick, sometimes we get off the merry-go-round.
So law of attraction says to live as though you already have the thing you want and that is, by far, the most problematic part for people to understand and is the first thing they laugh at. Yet I’m going to tell you why it isn’t just sensible. It’s scientific. I’m not going to use myself just yet, because I want you to really get this and I’m still a work in progress.
So I will use one of the biggest wants for women everywhere. To lose weight. Not just to lose weight, but to look sexy and knock everyone on their butts.
Take a generally healthy woman with the usual low to moderate self-esteem at Walmart. She sees this supermodel on the cover of vogue and maybe they even look a little alike, only the model in the magazine is talking about how she only eats chicken and that is how she maintains her sexy ribcage. Make matters worse, our girl’s boyfriend just broke up with her because she’s too heavy for him. So, as is so often the case, our girl in question buys the magazine and, even though she knows that it sounds too easy, she reads all about this model’s wonderful, fabulous miracle chicken diet. Our girl doesn’t like vegetables, can’t imagine a life without cheese or mashed potatoes, and hates to exercise. So she does the only sensible thing. She goes on that crazy fad diet and eats nothing but chicken for six months. And OH how much weight she loses. She feels sexy and maybe she doesn’t feel real great health wise, but look how those pants fit! She has attained her goal, right? Of course, now that she’s there, she goes right back to eating the same way she always has and what a relief. I mean, those six months were torture. And three weeks or two months later, she’s right back where she started.
Because now her body is pissed. So when she goes back on the fabulous chicken diet, not only does it not work, she starts gaining weight.
So she tries the next fad diet and the next, always ending right back where she started. Agonies! There is no point!! She gives up and who could blame her.
So, let’s rewind. Same woman, same knowledge that she wants to be slim and sexy and fit. Same likes and dislikes. But she passes on Vogue because, let’s face it, you aren’t getting anything that looks like truth from a woman who makes a starving Ethiopian village look like fat camp. So our girl sits down and has a little think about the reality of the life she wants. She doesn’t like vegetables all that much, but she doesn’t mind this or that one. And she loves cheese, but does she need the full bag of Cheetos? She does the research into weight loss and the science of sustaining it. She accepts that the goal is possible, but it won’t come overnight. She wants it as soon as possible, but having a maintainable loss is important too. So she makes a plan based on what she is willing to try out, with an eye on what other women who are everything she wants to be have done. But only half an eye because, well, they aren’t her.
So she changes the way she approaches her life, altering the things that she does, but only in a way that is natural to her. She replaces her snack eating on the couch with a treadmill because she does kind of like to walk and she can still binge on Supernatural while she’s doing it. She isn’t ready for the gym, but she’s discovered a natural curiosity about nutrition, so she takes an adult learning class and, hey, just because interacting with others keeps her from thinking too much about the Cheetos she doesn’t buy anymore, she also decides on an art class.
Pretty soon, she’s discovered that food is tasting different. Those veggies she thought she hated are tasting better because she isn’t assaulting her tongue with heavy salt and preservatives anymore. And she’s decided to try out this run walk program with Marjorie from nutrition class. Next thing you know, Marjorie has talked her into a 5k and she half thinks she’s being crazy, but our girl has decided ‘why not, I can walk part of the way’. Only Marjorie pushes our girl and they end up trotting the whole thing. It’s a slow jog, but it isn’t walking and the finisher’s medal is such a rush that our girl decides to sign up for another 5k. And another. Then, a year later, she’s running a marathon with Marjorie, they have a little arts and crafts store, and our girl leads a running group of women that are looking to train for a marathon because she’s discovered she has an aptitude for getting other women up and moving. Plus she’s adopted Mugs the husky because Marjorie and the other girls are great, but she sometimes just likes being out with a dog, like she used to do when she was ten. And, while she’s out with Mugs, this really hot guy stops her to talk about huskies – he has one too – and, next thing you know, they are running together with their dogs all the time and our girl has a rock the size of the Blarney Stone. Maybe in ten years they own a gym or maybe they aren’t together anymore at all, but, chances are, our girl will still be slim and fit and happy and when she thinks back on the person she used to be, she’ll smile and laugh at how hard she thought it was all going to be.
I did not tell you this story to make you join a gym. I told you this story because, when the law of attraction tells us to live like we already have what we want, it is very rarely explained properly. Maybe it’s a good thing to have to think it out for ourselves, but I’m like the woman in the story. I like to pull others with me on my way up. Even if I have to use duct tape and diamonds to get you there.
So I want you to pay attention to the difference in the stories because it is the only truly important thing. In one, our girl was determined and motivated (chicken for six damn months) and she was looking at the goal. In the other, she was determined and motivated and looking right were she was. The woman is the same person in both stories and, in a round about way, this is me. Twenty years ago, I wanted to be a bestselling author, so I wrote really hard and submitted a short story or two while maintaining that I was too shy to do it all the time. Mostly, I just prayed for a miracle. Five years ago, same thing with a few more stabs at blogs and contests. Two years ago. Same story, only now I have a massive case of writer’s block. And three months ago? Three months ago, I did something new.
First, I questioned the dream. Did I really want it? Enough to sacrifice for it? When the answer remained the same resounding YES it had always been, I started looking at my life a little closer. You could say I sat down to do the research and pick out the treadmill. I started looking for my miracle instead of waiting around for it to show up on its own. That is when I started really getting into the law of attraction and really inspecting my life. That is also when I started cutting things off. No toes or anything, I promise.
First, it was people. You can’t support my dream, that’s fine, but you need to no longer have a say in my life. Also, I’ll no longer be taking in your judgments for consideration. I need that headspace for this new thing I’m building. Then it was thought processes. I’m too shy for a blog and I don’t want to talk to anyone? Bull crap, I wouldn’t have a single book out if that was true and I actually love people, I just have no patience for whining and bitching and putting others down. Next? Do I really need to binge watch Supernatural before I sit down to edit this book? I mean, the show will still be there tomorrow, right?
That was step one. Step two was a bit scarier because I started this blog. I started showing up to the live webinars with the law of attraction people. No, I didn’t go to writing webinars because my writing isn’t the problem, so understand that. You have to find the stars that aren’t lining up. I paid for advertisements for my books. I started paying attention to what other authors did and picking out the things I thought I might be able to repeat. I’m still in that stage, fyi, looking for what works and what doesn’t. Right then, I was also at the stage where I wasn’t thinking so hard about stretching out, but I’m past that one now.
I’ve entered a new level of understanding since yesterday. It was only while I was talking to this person about the character blogs that I realized, quite suddenly, the full meaning of live as if. It isn’t fluffy unicorns and magical rainbows at all. I am building the life of a bestselling author around myself, right down to the environment. So I got to thinking about it really hard – circle, peck, circle, peck, oooo, an eyeball!
Oh how weird we humans are. We look at that bright, shiny goal and we don’t see it. No. We see the results. The money. The fame. the wonder of going to Hawaii first class and laughing at the suckers in economy with that kid kicking their seat every two seconds. All the hot guys fawning over us, all the clothes we’ll buy. We picture our fat bank account and dream of how happy we are going to be with all that money and… and… wait a second. Wasn’t my dream to be a bestselling author? I mean, the money is great and all, but where are the books? Where are the readers? What does that look like? I wasn’t aware my dream was to have lots of money and what’s with the guys? I’m kinda digging on being single. If it’s money I want, maybe I should start collecting dollar bills instead of books?
Here’s the thing. Yes, a bestselling author probably isn’t worrying too much about paying rent. But you know what else they probably aren’t doing? Flying to Hawaii to hang out drinking and not writing because vacations are vacations. Work is not about the vacation you are going to take. Work is about doing the work and, love it or hate it, that is the thing that brings the money. So I’ll spell it out for you. If you want a different life, then you need to live like you already have it. Not money wise. Living wise. And you don’t have to change who you are, exactly, just your behavior. Let me give you another small example.
Now, I don’t know any best selling authors, this is just me playing pretend about the life of one. I imagine he gets up in the morning. Maybe he makes his bed, maybe he lets his wife do that, but I’m guessing he does some normal human type things like brush the teeth, get some pants on, go for a walk with the dog. Or maybe he just puts the clothes on and walks right into his office to work. I imagine he spends a good deal of time writing on whatever book he’s currently working on, then maybe he visits twitter to talk about writing or Facebook to talk about what is next for his writing or a blog to talk about his newest character. Pretty much, this whole eight hour block of his day, give or take a break for lunch or to let the dogs out, is dedicated to doing writerly things, including talking to the people who buy his books in some form or another. People like Stephen King or Anne Rice don’t really need to do this anymore, even though they do, but let’s say this is a less big name big name. After he’s spent a good part of the day doing these writerly things, he stretches, goes to take his wife or kid to the movies, watches TV or, more likely, reads. In other words, he is living a perfectly ordinary day as a writer and, chances are, he was doing this long before he sold ten thousand books a week or whatever his numbers are.
Now, up to about three months ago, this was my day. Get up and make the bed. Ignore the mess of the environment around me. Feed my dogs, screw around on my computer a little and call it research, maybe even write on something or try to edit the books I’d been working on. And this was a good a chunk of my day, make no mistake, because I do love what I do. Here is what my day did not include. Any sort of interaction with other people if I could help it. Advertising my books in any way. Trying to find readers. Remember, I didn’t like people, or liked to pretend I didn’t. Then this epiphany hit me and I realized I really did want to be a bestselling author, exactly the same thing I’d always said I wanted, and, true to the type of person I am, I went into research mode. I looked into any possible way to manifest a miracle, which brought me to the law of attraction and that delivered enough proof that I opened my mind to all the possibilities, which inspired the next epiphany. Which was simply that there is no magic in the magic. There is science. You can’t say you want something and act like you want the opposite. I said I wanted it. But I wasn’t living like I did. Being a bestselling author isn’t just about writing. It is about the people that read it.
This is the difference between pastel shades of dream parenting and the actual muddy, crayon on the walls and in the poop parenting. In my dream I was floating around, happily jetting off to Hawaii or Florida or wherever without a single thought to what book I was writing, living in the results without picturing the actual living part, basically picturing the relationship without the actual partner anywhere in evidence. This realization eventually ended on the second, yesterday. When they say to live like you already have it, what they mean is to live like a bestselling author (or the person who is every day slim and fit), not like you’re rich and famous, but like a writer who is successful at being a writer. And when they tell you to picture it in detail, they don’t mean picture all the things you’ll have and lock onto it like having that thing means you’ve attained the dream. Because, if you want a big house, make that your goal instead of trying to go the round about way of being a bestselling author first.
So, when I came to this understanding, I asked myself again, because, this was a very new version. Do I really want bestselling thing? I mean, the real version. With the writing and the selling books and the finding readers bit.
Joy of joys, the answer was still yes, I am willing to sacrifice my hermit comfort to be the writer I want to be. I’ve already been doing it. I am willing to open myself up to my version of finding readers. And that is important; you have to be willing to find your own way because you can’t be anyone else. Seuss was right. Nobody else can be youer than you, so you can skip right over trying to eat like the chicken loving supermodel on the cover of vogue. Maybe eating nothing but chicken suits her, but you need something real. So you have to lose the weight in a manner that is all about you. Get it? I did. So I started shifting things. I started working different angles. I started chasing after this dream with a smile, some duct tape, and a ball bat. Hello blog, hello research, hello me trying to find a way to meet people without actually having to, you know, leave my dungeon.
I’m not wholly there yet, but I’m starting to sell more books. I have a Patreon page, which I love because I’m not just asking people for money; charity is not my bag. Patrons get something for their dollars. I added a tip jar to the blog because not everyone can swing a monthly bet on me, but, if I make you feel stronger about yourself, maybe you want to drop me a dollar. I talk about my books, but I do it in a way that is a friendly, ‘this is what I’m doing right now’ instead of trying to tape your eyeballs open and scream ‘READ IT, MONKEY!’ the way some twitter accounts seem to do. And, every day, I try to take one more step closer to the writing life I have in my head. I plan on starting a character blog this weekend (and finishing up a few things I’ve left hanging, but that one is up to the muse) and I’ve joined the group of character bloggers. I’m going to have the Patreon discussion about which project to start next and I’ll be adding the next installment to Damsel In Distress on Patreon and I’m looking forward to it because the princess is leaving the tower.
As I told the other writer, three months ago, I’d have run from almost all of this while screaming ‘BE GONE SATAN’ in a panic of ‘wait, no, I don’t want to write a character blog with a bunch of other writers’ flurry. Now I feel oddly confident because I’m following intuition and I’ve decided to embrace the crayon on the walls. There are always things about a job, no matter how much we love it, that we are less comfortable with than others. But the more we open ourselves up to things, the more we can discover that we do like. For instance, I love this blog. I love posting. I love those moments when I feel like I’ve inspired someone or cleared some clouds from their day. I love the daily riff and I love knowing that this is going to be a part of the final design because I’m more likely to give up writing altogether than to abandon this blog. I am also excited about working with these other writers because, well, I get to be in a group of people who enjoy the same things I do.
Just a little side note here. I am not just applying this to my writing. I am applying this to my entire life. I have maintained the clean in my space. I straighten and I use that physical action to smooth any ruffled feathers. I read more than I watch TV and I try, as much as possible, to make my outside life mirror the vision I have inside. Funnily enough, it has nothing to do with money; I could have a million dollars and happily live exactly as I do. So I consider that a sign I’m moving in the right direction.
This is how my life looks right now. I get up in the morning and I make my bed. Then I sit down to write. I’m editing the newest book, due out on May 23, the last of the books that was hiding away, waiting for me to decide what I was going to do during those last four years of my marriage falling apart. I might fiddle with my word magnets or I might talk to myself about what else I can be doing to get myself aligned with my life goals because it isn’t quite all there yet. I’m still searching for what works best. I am aligning my personal stars one by one. The point of this post was not to crow about reaching my ultimate goal. It was to clarify something and help others realize that they can start doing the same thing.
The best part of looking back is realizing I have changed without changing and this is something everyone on the planet can do. Yes, three months ago, I would have run from all of this. I would have run because I didn’t understand what this means to me. I would have run because I was afraid the universe would tell me no. I would have run because what if it didn’t happen. And now I stand up for it. I write and I join character blogging groups and create my characters because I’m not afraid anymore. I love my life and I’ll do whatever it takes to maintain what I have while making it better every single day. I connect with other writers and I help them to overcome their writer’s block and inspire them and anyone else I can get my duct tape around, to decide what star they want to follow. I do not expect to roll jackpot today or tomorrow or next week, I just know that it will happen when it is ready to happen and I’m good with that because it won’t change anything about the way I already am. I have re-formed my thoughts so that I think like a writer who is already a success. I am a writer and I live like I’m the bestselling author I want to be. And I binge Supernatural once in a while (still Team Dean!) because that is who I am. I will never be that person who drives, drives, drives without stopping. I need breathing time. I need my relax time. But I’m living like this is my job, not my hobby.
So go think about this. What do you want? What star do you want to chase? And how can you align yourself with it today? Have a beautiful night, the Daily Riff will be coming up in a few!