Monday, November 29, 2010

Article - Need to Compare?

Have you ever felt that compared with "everyone else" around you, your own circumstances are the worst? Do you have thoughts like "all my mates have achieved this, done that, have this or have that" and I haven't? I'm now exploring this idea of measuring myself with another person's yard stick. Where does it come from? Is it parents, peer pressure, the society as a whole or just my own unrealistic expectations?

It's probably a mixture of all four. On one hand, it drives me to want to achieve more and more (sort of like healthy competition) to ensure that I can boast too, but on the other hand, it makes me think "What's the point? That person just had better opportunities than I have". Like when you hear of your classmate in university who is now a millionaire, or your friend from high school now running her own fashion empire. You are happy for them of course, but you also compare yourself and you end up feeling very small.

I think it starts when we still are young. You are put in a classroom with 15 or so other 3-year olds. There you are expected to all be at the same level, grow at the same speed and learn at the same pace. If for any reason you don't keep up with the rest of the class, then there's a problem with you. This pattern continues throughout life. You want the latest toys because "everybody has one". You want to wear a certain item of clothing because "that's what all the other kids are wearing". You want to feel like you are similar to everyone. You find yourself constantly looking around and checking to see if you are ahead or behind of your peers. And parents also keep telling you about their own friends' children who are doing much better than you.

Then you grow up and suddenly you realise that some things are outside your control. Your career is progressing very slowly meanwhile your mates have soared far ahead. Or your mates are getting engaged, married, and having babies while you are still single. Or your friend has just bought a new house, while you are still renting or living at home. It all adds up to a perfect recipe for frustration.

But why do we compare? Are we all given the same opportunities? Did God give us the same talents? Do we have the same circumstances? Do we all have the same goals? Do we have the same experiences or backgrounds? No, no, no and no. We don't even have the same genes!

So I've decided, from now on, I'm not going to compare myself with anyone else. I am me. I am unique. We all have our time and purpose to fulfil on earth. My time and purpose is not dependent on other people. Only God is in full control. And only God will I give the ability to push me forward.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guest Post: Book Writing Strategies by Andrea Constantine

Can a book really be easy? Three So-Easy Strategies – They’re Just Silly.

by Andrea Constantine

It’s hard to believe just a year ago I didn’t even have a book in the pipeline. At the time, it was just some pipe-dream. Little did I know that in less than twelve months I’d soon have two books on the market. It seems ironic since I had struggled for years to even commit to an idea for a book, but now the ideas are everywhere.

Why was my experience so easy? What was different or was I just plain lucky? In reality it was none of those excuses that even I’d love to believe. If I happen to come across a page of luck, I’d surely share my secret formula, but it isn’t about luck at all.

Over the course of the year, there have been three-oh-so-easy strategies that supported this stellar growth. Besides only sleeping on Sundays, and cloning myself, - teasing - these are the three things that I know can help bring your book to life too!

Drumroll p-uh-lease!?!

Collaboration. First, I didn’t go at it alone. Lone-ranger out – team player in! My book and business partner Lisa Shultz is my main collaborator; however, in our first book we had 47 other lovely ladies submit their chapters to us. Which made the writing process a whole-heck-of-a-lot easier. Imagine a book with your name on it and you just have to write a few chapters!? When I went to take my first stab at writing a book, I failed, I barely got started, and the whole-darn process seemed overwhelming as all get out. I quit. Here’s where luck or serendipity did come in, Lisa asked me to join her on her book project, and I said yes! Suddenly, I saw the light. If you want to do something big in your life, whether write a book or become president, you are not going to get their alone.

Goals. I know, this sounds elementary. But they work. Goals, deadlines, and a fire under your-you-know-what are seriously the key to just getting that book written and out into the world. Trying to write a book without some looming deadline means that your book may, just may, be ready for print in 2025. Clearly define your goals and figure it out from there. When Lisa and I partnered at the end of 2009, we picked late August for our launch date. We then worked backwards and timed out every step in between. It kept us on schedule and it kept the process moving along. We always knew where we had to be and when we had to be there by. Goals, however over-emphasized in our world, are a shortcut to accomplishment.

Accountability. If no one knows you are writing a book, or if you’ve locked up your work in a vault fearful of putting it out into the world – it’s never going to get out there. Accountability to others is one of the fastest ways to get your book done and out to market. Lisa and I checked in with each other so frequently during the writing and compilation of our books, that we never missed a beat. How are you on this? Where are you on that? How’s this coming along? What can I do to help you? Flailing along as a solo-aspiring-author is difficult, challenging, and lonely-as-the corner ice cream store in a February snowstorm. Don’t do it, do not, under any circumstances attempt to go at it alone. If you are writing a book as the sole author, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have an accountability partner, coach, friend, or mentor. Team up and you will find a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, filled with inspiration, encouragement, and motivation.

So really, as you can see – writing and getting two books complete in one year isn’t all that hard if you abide by these oh-so-easy-strategies. Don’t wait to get your book done. Get your book done this year!

And if you are ready to take the leap and write your book this year, then check out Andrea Costantine and Lisa Shultz’s latest book… – Grab your copy today and receive two months accountability and writing support in their monthly mentoring group and other bonuses valued at $150.

Friday, November 05, 2010

On Life: Achilles' Heel

It's been a busy time for me in the last two months. Apart from writing, I've had my family coming over, been taking driving lessons, and generally moving into a new phase of my life. I've also been catching up on my reading, as I've got so many books on my to-read list, it's unbelievable. But I still can't stop myself from buying more! In the last month, I've read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (this was quite a strange book, very different from what I would usually pick up, but it was a very good read nonetheless), The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini (I quite enjoyed reading this love story woven around the politics of Zimbabwe), and  Love at Dawn by Lara Daniels (a tale of love, forgiveness and redemption which I thoroughly enjoyed reading) and I'm looking forward to a couple more before the end of the year.

Ever since I saw the movie Troy, I've been fascinated with the main characters in the story, especially Achilles. He was the great hero of the Trojan War and apparently when he was a baby his mother dipped him into a river which made him invincible except for his heel. According to Greek mythology, Achilles grew to become a great warrior and no one could stop him until Paris, a prince of Troy managed to shoot an arrow into his heel. Thus the phrase "Achilles heel" came to mean a weakness or flaw that can lead to a person's downfall in spite of his overall strength. 

This story makes me think that we all have a weakness that can potentially lead to our downfall if we don't deal with it. I can think of many great men who have been destroyed by their lack of self-control when it comes to women. Some people have ended up in prison because of their greed for money. Some people have committed atrocious acts because of anger. And the list goes on. It may seem like it's not a big deal, and just overlook a small flaw in ourselves, but we do need to be careful. I know that I have my weaknesses too, and I have to constantly ask God for grace to overcome them. It can be all too easy to let one thing get out of hand, until we lose control and succumb to negative desires.

If you are struggling with some temptations or something that goes against your principles, please don't ignore it or hope it would go away by itself. You have to take steps to make sure you don't fall. For example, if you know your married boss at work is showing inappropriate interest in you, it would certainly not be wise to go on a dinner date with him. Do what you can to remove yourself from such sticky situations! One little slip of judgement could be all it takes, and before you know it, you are involved in an affair.

Oh well, that's enough sermonising for now, lol.  Check out some of my new stories and flash fiction before you leave! Thanks for visiting!