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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Secret is No Secret

A friend of mine introduced me to something that I think is one of the most powerful ideas ever: It's not about willpower, it's about mindset.  This simple idea has changed my life in so many areas.

The Grandma who lives in Texas has reinforced this idea on an incredible level.  Currently, she's battling cancer.  In her mind, she's already conquered it; now she's just waiting for the cancer to realize it.  She's happy, eats a cancer-fighting diet with ease, and is enjoying her life.  Grandma never ceases to absolutely amaze me with her spirit, joy, and love.

Mindset is all about how you think, and what you think dictates what you do.

When it comes to writing, it can be hard to just sit down and write.  If I were to look at my task as "I must write xxx number of words today" it can seem a bit daunting.  When I set my mind to "I want to tell this part of the story" or "My characters are going to do this today" it becomes much easier to write and let the story flow.  Focusing on word count can actually slow me down more often than not, because I'm thinking about the quantity over the quality.  It becomes hurried, forced, and not so great. The same thing when I focus on how many copies I can sell- I get fixates on the numbers instead of worrying about my writing.  "Chase your passions and the money will chase you." I don't know who said it, but they were right: when I published The Secret Room, I was checking my numbers once or twice every hour, which is far too much.  When I stopped focusing on sales, I started writing again, and I wrote Shadows in the Window.  Once Shadows in the Window was up, The Secret Room started selling even more copies.

In my mind, I'm already a best-selling author, it's just a matter of waiting for everyone else to realize it.  With that in mind, it becomes much easier to write, to promote, and to learn what I need to do to actually get there.  I know I write well; I've received tons of positive feedback on my work and continue to sell my work at a steadily increasing rate.  It's not about being cocky, it's about being confident, which is a fine line to walk.  I've divulged my secret in this blog post, but I don't go around saying "Hey guys, have you heard of me?  I'm the best thing to happen to writing since the Gutenberg Printing Press!"  Mostly I don't say that because it isn't true- I've not reinvented writing or the genres in which I write, but I put my heart and soul into my stories and strive to make it the best it can be.  I've already noticed an improvement in my writing since publishing The Secret Room, and it continues to improve with each story, each page, and each paragraph as I write.  My mindset is that I am a great author, and I just have to allow myself to grow into that person.

It works the same way with weight loss.  When I tell myself that I am already at my ideal, healthy weight, I start to feel it- I treat food differently, I am more willing to exercise, and I walk and carry myself differently.  I tell myself that I'm already there, it's just a matter of letting my body catch up to it.  It sounds weird, but just changing my mindset makes it easier- I lost three pounds in a week without counting calories or timing my workouts (dance classes are just too much fun).  It's a mindset, saying "This is who I am, now I just have to let myself become it."

Everyone I know has heard about The Secret: it's the belief that if you believe something and tell it that it's a reality, then the universe will deliver it to you.  This is true, but not for the reasons many people believe it is.  When we believe something, we tend to work harder for it and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  No matter how much I tell myself that I'll have a brand-new car by this time next year, a new car is not going to just appear if I don't do anything to help it.  But keeping a goal in mind and treating that goal as a reality works as an almost subconscious motivating tool to make a person work toward what they want.  By this time next year, I'm going to buy a brand-new car; even though I wouldn't be able to right now, I'm telling myself that this is a fact.  I'm also telling myself that by mid-2013, my debt will be gone and I'll be making more money each month than I ever have before.

This may not work for everyone, but it's certainly worked for me.  Here's how I got myself into the mindset: First, I sat down and deleted all distractions for a while.  I went to a quiet place (namely my bedroom), put my cell phone on silent and out of view, and made sure the television, computer, and music were off.  For a while, I laid down on my bed and just allowed my thoughts to wander wherever they decided to go.  Then I started to focus- what did I want my future to look like?  Exactly how much money did I want to make?  What size is future-me?  What color is my brand-new car?  I envisioned every detail of this big picture.  I saw where I was, what I was doing, what I looked like, how I was doing it; I smelled every scent, pictured myself driving my brand-new car, and felt every feeling I imagined I would be having.

Once I saw future-me with total clarity, I started to rewind.  When had I decided I was ready to buy my new car?  How much money did I have in the bank before getting it?  How long had my debt been paid off?  How many books was I selling each month?  How many was I selling each day?  I completely envisioned this period just before I bought my brand-new car, and filled in  all the details on this point in my life, too.  I continued with this process until I had rewound to the point I'm at now.  Doing this, I now have a visual of the road I would take to get where I want to be in a year.

With this in mind, I work hard.  Every day I'm doing something to get me one step closer to that goal, even if it's just something small.  Small steps add up, and before you know it, you'll have walked a mile.  So what's the secret to "The Secret"?  There's no secret at all: just know what you want and keep working until you get it.

Can you see me in the front seat there?

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