By Nikki Studebaker Barcus
Some of my best reading comes in the form of procrastinating, er, I mean, research. That's how I recently stumbled upon the book The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews. I found it researching, that is--not procrastinating. Anyway, Publishers Weekly nails it when it says Andrews "effectively combines self-help with fiction...."
In the book, David Ponder is at a crossroads. Life as he knew it is over and he can't seem to find his footing. In his mind, he is a failure and his family would be better off with him dead rather than alive. Take a sea captain, a Civil War colonel, two U.S. presidents, a brave young girl, an ancient king, and an archangel and mix in seven decisions, sprinkle it with a little time travel an voila! you have The Traveler's Gift. Okay, when I read that it doesn't sound like the kind of book I'd ever read, but seriously, other than a little too much "positive thinking" for my taste, this book is worth the short read.
The Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success outlined by Andy Andrews (his words are in bold) are great goals for life, but let's take a look at them with our writing in mind:
Decision 1: The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future. Note, this does not say "I am to blame for my past", just responsible. The attitude, lessons, and how you let it affect you are what you have control over. This year I will rejoice over the successes, learn from the mistakes, and plan for the future of my writing.
Decision 2: I will seek wisdom. I will learn from others. I will take every critique and criticism and hold it to the light, accepting what is truth. I will learn the craft and the art of writing. When ignorance threatens to paralyze me, I'll find the answers somewhere, some way.
Decision 3: I am a person of action. I will seize every moment. I choose now. I am passionate about writing. I am a writer--so I will write.
Decision 4: I have a decided heart. I have a vision and I'm passionate about seeing it to completion. I will walk the road set before me until the Lord guides me to another path. I refuse to be a wimp, a wussy, or a slacker.
Decision 5: Today I will choose to be happy. A grateful spirit is a decision, not a circumstance. I will rejoice in the small achievements every day. Auto-save and spell check, to name a few. I will celebrate in the struggles, knowing that I don't struggle alone. I will choose to focus on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.
Decision 6: I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive every hurtful critique, ignored proposal, unfair comment, and form rejection. I will forgive those who hurt me and discount my sacrifice, blood, sweat, and ink. I will forgive and I will start with myself.
Decision 7: I will persist without exception. I am a person of faith and faith believes in things not seen. I'll persist in my calling until I'm called elsewhere. I'll write the story I've been given until the Author revises and gives me another draft. I will focus on the road before me, not on the obstacles in my path.
What I like about these Seven Decisions is that these are not quantitative goals, but rather a lifestyle change. Each one of us could adopt this attitude and it would look different for each one of us. I'm going to post this in my office and when I'm faced with an assignment, a deadline, a problem, or a choice I'm going to look at this list and ask myself, "Does this help me to meet my goals?"
Stop making excuses; find the answer; just do it; make a plan; be grateful; forgive; persist. I think those are words I can live by in 2011. How about you?