What To Do When You Can’t Get What You Want

billiard 300x300 What To Do When You Cant Get What You WantThere’s nothing worse than putting TONS of time and energy into trying to get something you want and coming up short over and over again. For example, when you’ve been stuck at a job you hate for what seems like forever and just can’t find a new one, despite multiple applications and interviews. Or maybe you find yourself messing something specific up over and over again and feel like you’re not improving, no matter how hard you try. Or you have something very specific you’re trying to get and are just not getting it. So much effort wasted!

The problem is that what you need, whether it’s a new job or overnight advanced skills or someone else to agree to something, is somewhat outside of your control. It’s not something you can just say you’re going to do and go out and do; the stars have to align and other people have to see things the same way you do. All you can really do is keep trying… but why keep trying when you’re putting in so much effort without getting any results? Then again, if you don’t try you won’t get any results either. So then what?

My solution to this is to come up with process-based goals that don’t rely on anyone else.

Need to get a new job? Instead of making your goal getting an offer, make your goal something you can control, something specific. For example, your goal could be to ask three specific questions about the company during the interview, or to give two examples about why you are uniquely qualified. Even if you don’t get the job, you’re improving your interview skills and building your chops…which will surely come in handy later on down the road.

Trying to get published in some big-name magazines or websites and getting rejection after rejection? I’ve certainly been there, and in fact broke into one dream site after a total of 11 ideas and 28 emails exchanged. The goal I was tracking was not how many of my dream publications I could break into, but how many queries I sent. I took care of the process and the outcome took care of itself.

Working on something you have to do which you just suck at? Again, focus on the process. I did this after I realized some video interviews I’d been doing for a client weren’t up to my standards. Instead of trying to will myself to improve automagically, I focused on some specifics. Being more conversational. Making eye contact. Responding to what people said instead of just thinking about what I was going to ask next.

Focusing on the process does three key things.

First, it gives you a bit of independence, so you can focus on YOUR actions instead of outsourcing your level of accomplishment to a decision made by someone else… which you ultimately have no real control over.

Second, it allows you to really hone in on specifics you need to improve on and come up with your own strategy or plan to get there. Whether you’re taking courses, reading a book, or doing something else entirely, time spent developing skills and knowledge is never wasted.

And finally, it allows you to have some success, which builds your confidence and makes things a bit easier and more fun. Will that ultimately get you to your goal? Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. But it certainly makes things a lot less miserable in the meantime.

Bonus: Focusing on limiting beliefs and some of the stories you tell yourself can really help speed along the process. More on that soon. icon smile What To Do When You Cant Get What You Want

Have you ever focused on the process rather than the outcome? What were your results? Feel free to share in the comments!

Some Thoughts About Improv

Brave New Workshop 20071217 300x225 Some Thoughts About ImprovI’ve been wanting to play around with improv comedy for a long time, and even auditioned for a now-defunct long-form improv group. I made it to the month-long audition phase, along with one other person, but neither of us made it into the troupe. I believe part of it was due to the fact that we couldn’t make machine gun noises.

That was years ago, and this time I wanted to just take a class for normal people, rather than competitors, so I finally bit the bullet and signed up for the “Everyday Improv 1” class at Brave New Workshop. It’s eight sessions and I’ve only attended one, but I’m hoping it’ll help me with interviews and other areas I’m trying to develop. Here’s some of what I learned that I think has good lessons that go beyond improv games and into everyday life.

1. Yes, and… is a basic improv concept. When a scene partner gifts you with information for the scene, instead of “no, but”ing it and killing the scene, you “yes, and” and build on it. This is something I’ve been working on in my life, so it’s another chance to practice. Not that I always “no, but” but sometimes I’m not responsive and just proceed with my agenda (like in an interview)…this can be okay depending on a number of factors, but it’s not ideal.

Lesson: Sometimes it’s worth it to just go with the flow, accept what is offered and build on it. It’s easy to just deny the experiences and thoughts of everyone else around you, but it’s worth paying attention to when you “yes, and” in your life and when you resist it, and making changes if necessary.

2. Zip, zap, zop is a game where you’re transferring energy and sometimes an emotion to someone else in the circle by just pointing and saying “zip” (or zap or zop or whatever, depending on order…we changed it to real words later on, too.). The key is to pay attention so you’ll see when it’s coming. One person there always thought it was his and would try to intercept zaps directed at others. Another person struggled with eye contact so nobody would pick up on the fact that it was being sent to them.

Lesson: Actually, this is something I’m working on a lot; being more interactive and paying attention to what is directed my way that I’m not responding to or making sure that the energy I send out is focused. That can be anything from listening to someone while they’re talking so that you can respond (as opposed to reading from your notecard to remember what you want to say next), or noticing when someone is trying to talk to you.

3. I don’t know what this is called, but we did a lot of exercises where we’d have to just repeat a motion and sound by someone else around the circle.

Again, the lesson/challenge was to focus on what was happening instead of which one we were going to do when it got to be our turn…knowing that we’d come up with something.

I’m actually traveling, so will miss week 2, but I’m hoping to keep writing about my insights as they develop!

Top Posts In June

top5 300x300 1 Top Posts In JuneThis June, I did the 2013 WordCount blogathon, posting 30 times in 30 days. (That’s why there’s more posts than usual today!)

Here’s the five top hits for the month.

Five Ways to (Ethically) Repurpose Content. I wrote this when someone failed to do that for me, in hopes to teach in a constructive way.

Scapegoating is (Usually) Not the Answer. My case for why we shouldn’t blame all of society’s ills (or WMMA’s ills, in this case) on just one person (as egregious as their behavior might be.)

10 Tips For Getting the Most out of Physical Therapy. Exactly like it sounds.

Review: YogaHands. Just a product that may help you give our fingers some love.

Health Insurance 101 For Freelancers & the Self-Employed. Also self-explanatory.

Beyond Perfection

Tulips (Apricot Perfection cultivar), Real Jard%C3%ADn Bot%C3%A1nico, Madrid Beyond Perfection“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” ―Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Perhaps seeking to attain less and less separation from the ideal state is what allows one to live on the razor’s edge, chasing constant improvement.

But it’s important to remember that life is like a guitar string–too loose and you can’t play, but if the string is too tight, it snaps.

How are you finding balance today?

The Tally Is In!

 The Tally Is In!Thanks so much to everyone who voted on which header image I should get. The results included a mysterious tie-breaker between images A, C and D, with B as a clear second. So then I decided to give lesser value to people who selected more than one, and Image A was a clear winner.

Thanks again to Caitlin Rogers, and make sure to follow Simplicity Metrics  on twitter for a chance to win a free header image design of your very own.

Last Chance to Vote

Question mark black on white 237x300 Last Chance to VoteThanks to everyone who helped me pick a logo! Truth be told, I love them all, but I’ll be tallying up your votes. If you haven’t taken your pick, please leave a comment by tomorrow (Friday), and I’ll announce the winning logo on Monday.

In case you missed the post, you can vote here: http://yaelwrites.com/2013/06/19/image/.

Thanks so much for your help!

Scapegoating Is (Usually) Not The Answer

800px William Holman Hunt   The Scapegoat 300x184 Scapegoating Is (Usually) Not The AnswerRecently, a photo of an MMA writer was posted all over facebook, with instructions to help “rid this plague” from our community. The attention-seeker in question writes disturbingly inappropriate stories about female fighters for a content mill, has been known to harass women, and is not someone I’d ever want to spend any time with. And yet I find myself disturbed that so much focus is on an individual rather than his actions, in an industry that’s already rife with inappropriate behavior. While the kid’s writing is despicable and actions are disturbing, scapegoating an individual (or even a group of individuals) will not solve everything.

When you target a single  person, no  matter how egregious their comments may be, you often fail to address the bigger systemic problems, which are huge. The problem is not always specific individuals, but the type of language and behavior that people ignore. It’s the otherwise cool guy who watched Metamoris and found it fitting to post on Facebook that two female competitors, both black belts, rolled to a “sexy sexy draw” and that men should refrain from wearing sweatpants while they watch. In that example, it’d be nice if reaching the upper echelon of the sport would result in people focusing on one’s athleticism and technique, but no such luck. And yet I’m not willing to make across-the-board character judgements about someone I know to be an otherwise decent person.

Targeting individuals leaves so much room for error. It’s not unheard of to overlook bad behavior from individuals if they’re deemed useful as political pawns in what’s considered a more important cause. It’s a power play we keep dancing around where having rank or friends in the right places allows individuals to get away with what would otherwise be considered unacceptable.

To create cultural change, the focus needs to be on BEHAVIOR rather than individuals. We need to realize that good people say stupid things but can be surprisingly decent in other circumstances, and that bad people can be charismatic and manipulative and win everyone over. We need to realize that the world isn’t black and white, and that pinpointing specific individuals who happen to be most visible is not a substitute for creating a culture of accountability… one where actions are addressed with regularity and people learn from their mistakes.

The only ‘plague’ the community needs to get rid of, as far as I’m concerned, is someone who’s proven himself as such by his actions . Most situations are not so black and white.

Bonus Quote of the Month

quotes1 Bonus Quote of the Month“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” -Mark Twain

Quote of the Month

quotes1 Quote of the Month

“Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.” ~Immanuel Kant

Five Ways To (Ethically) Repurpose Content

Depositphotos 4701553 xs 300x199 Five Ways To (Ethically) Repurpose Content Sometimes it’s challenging for bloggers to come up with new material. When you have limited time or resources, don’t have anything particularly new to say or are just feeling a little bit lazy, it can be tempting to simply recycle other people’s content (or your own). Here’s how to do that in a way that won’t get you in trouble (legally or otherwise) or force you to compromise on ethics, decency and respect.

1. Content curation. This approach involves simply taking other people’s content, publishing a short excerpt, and then linking back to the original source. Vertical Response has an excellent post describing the difference (see what I did there?) so make sure you publish the name of the site (and ideally the author, if available) along with a link back to the original source. Publishing the entire piece is not the way to go–just a few sentences or paragraphs will do. If you’ve got the time and energy, you can build off of the piece as well by providing commentary and context, instead of simply posting the excerpt and backlink.

2. Dig into quotes you didn’t use for a previous piece. That interview you had transcribed but only used a third of the quotes from sources you’d interviewed? Can you pull together the rest of your material and come up with a different but related topic? I’ve actually printed “outtakes” of interviews I’ve done–the really great quotes I wanted to use but that couldn’t quite work into the piece because they didn’t fit the t heme. You can even link to the original piece you did with your own personal comments.

3. Find a new spin. This is a great approach if you’re doing some reporting, but are coming up with the exact same information as previously published work. The best way to be unique is to find a new angle. What can you ask about that hasn’t already been covered? Or, if you’re pressed for time or resources, what do you already know about that you could discuss to draw parallels to the piece you’re currently working on? This does require a little bit of additional work and some creativity, but extra elbow grease is always a better choice than writing content that’s stale.

4. Pick a different audience or ability level. Explaining the technical nuances of a service is very different depending on who you’re talking to. Perhaps you’ve covered the bare bones minimum for someone else’s site, but want to go more in depth for your more experienced audience. Or maybe the opposite is true–you’ve explained the technical details but have never made the topic accessible for those outside the field. Consider your audience, and have at it.

5. Switch mediums. A video tutorial of something that’s been covered in writing can make an old topic fresh, as can a slideshow compiling examples (with permission, of course) or an audio roundtable discussion where previously there were only blog posts. Think about what you can add or build on to create truly original content, though, instead of just making a verbatim video version of a how-to guide. What can you do with video, audio, etc. that will provide more value for your readers or viewers?