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Archive for the ‘running’ Category

No matter how serious your intention is to write, you need a plan.  And you need a plan that is automatic, clear-cut, and smooth.

You need a way to swiftly move into your work without the hesitation and resistance that can throw you off track.

You need a plan that works like the starting block works for an Olympian runner. You don’t want to slip and slide about in loose dirt. You want to move automatically into action at the given time. 

One of the world’s leading authorities on goal attainment, psychologist Peter Gollwitzer, Ph.D., has devised an amazingly effective plan for implementing a person’s intention to take action toward a goal.

Gollwitzer’s “if-then” plan or “implementation intention” requires you to decide ahead of time the time, location, and action you will take and to put the plan into the simplest, yet most logical, of forms. Your plan would be something as simple as this: IF it is 2 pm, THEN I will go to the 3rd floor of the library with my computer to write for two hours.

Gollwitzer’s research shows that such planning produces “automatic action,” because you “delegate control” to the “situational cues.” The situation or the when and the where are your cues—the situation triggers your taking action. Without your consciously thinking about it, your brain starts to work on making sure you will be aware and ready at the right time to take action.  Gollwitzer terms this “strategic automaticity” or “instant habits.” 

Without an if-then plan, competing projects or goals or other distractions can derail you from starting or taking action on any given day.

The if-then plan can change the way you approach your work.

It’s an amazingly effective cue to trigger your writing.

I would love to hear how you have  used the if-then plan to trigger your writing.

Happy writing,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
www.smarttipsforwriters.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.nancywhichard.com

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Is there too much to do?  Are you not getting enough done?

Do you jump from task to task on your to-do list but never seem to make progress on your main writing goals?

Is your dissertation still on your to-do list?

As a client said to me, “Which end of the tube am I squeezing?”

So what’s undercutting your progress on your writing?

 

Add-On’s

At your day job, people are sick or on leave, and you’re expected to pick up the slack. So you stay late. If you’re teaching, a student needs extra mentoring.  There are last-minute requests for letters of recommendation. And then you get into your car to drive home, only to find yourself in an extended traffic jam, once again.

Two extra hours here, two there, and suddenly you’ve forgotten about your own priorities.

Have you agreed to additional responsibilities without checking your schedule or without carving space for the new add-on’s? Or have those extra responsibilities not even registered for you as time-sucks?

 

Family Matters

Spring here in the U.S. often brings additional activities, primarily more activities for your kids.  So the questions…and conflicts…arise:  Who is driving the kids to their newly added activities? Are you changing your work schedule in order to take care of the kids? Are you going to be able to stay and watch them do these activities? 

Or perhaps your kids need or want to change their plans.  And they need or want to change what you thought was already decided.

Misunderstandings, disputes, and debates can arise from too many issues being handled on the fly. Phone calls or a voicemail message can precipitate problems or unexpected responses. Dealing with those problems and, perhaps, with your own emotions as well require more of your time.

You have the energy and know-how to orchestrate work, family life, dissertation or writing project. However, if you’re juggling so many things, you may feel that there’s no time for a miscalculation. Remember that things don’t have to be perfect. If there is a problem, you can problem-solve.

 

Ah, yes, the dissertation… How about Intervals?

Your to-do list is so big.

Parenting is so big.

The commute and the job are so big.

But what about the writing?

Has your dissertation moved lower and lower on your list? It’s time to get it back at the top of the list. Decide what specific writing task you can do this week. Look for chunks of available time each day and write that task on your calendar. Decide that you can do a good-enough job during those small chunks of time.

Time to Power Up

Have you done intervals in your exercise routines? Intervals are a simple but effective way to boost your exercise by “alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.”  The benefits are that you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time and improve your aerobic capacity.

Reframe your view of your day—look at it as if you’re doing intervals. You move easily from one task to another, increasing your tempo when you want to move through a task more quickly and then slowing  as you move to a less demanding activity. You can apply that same interval method to your writing.

If you could get more writing done in a shorter amount of time, what’s not to like about that? Let’s give it a try.

How much writing can you do in a short amount of time? Push yourself, knowing that you only have to work at this level of intensity for a selected period of time. You set the amount of time. Keep going until the time is up. Then slow down, go over what you’ve written, and plan the next sprint. Some writers object to this kind of writing because they say they have to write slowly. But perhaps those writers have no other job or they aren’t juggling as many responsibilities as you. You need to use your writing time as efficiently and productively as you can.

You make efficient use of your time in all sorts of ways during your day, and you can do that with your writing, too.

Of course, you need to be flexible.  The chunk of time you thought was yours may slip away from you because of a request at work or from a family member.

But watch that procrastination isn’t masquerading as flexibility.

Protect the small chunks of writing time. 

Setting small daily writing goals as priorities will result in progress.

What do you do to help you prioritize your writing and boost your writing efficiency? I’d love to hear from you.

All good wishes to you for great writing in April,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
www.smarttipsforwriters.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.nancywhichard.com
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

 

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“The idea for this post hit me today when I was at the gym, sweating profusely,” writes Larry Brooks in a blog post called “Blood, Sweat and Words: How Badly Do You Want This?”

As I read his guest post on the blog “Write To Done,” I was reminded once again with how often we hear about the connection between mind and body.

Brooks continues, “There’s something about taking yourself to the wall, to the point of the sweet pain that signals you’ve given it everything. Kinesiologists will tell you that’s an endorphin high. Nothing but bio-chemicals kicking in. Funny thing about bio-chemicals, though: they can take you to places you wouldn’t go otherwise.”

“I realized that I have, on occasion, experienced that same exhilarating high about my writing. And then, between sets on a machine inspired by something out of a medieval dungeon, it hit me: I don’t do that enough. I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing this post,” Brooks writes.

A feeling similar to what Brooks describes struck me this morning, though I wasn’t feeling the “sweet pain” Brooks mentions nor was I in anything remotely related to a dungeon.  In my aerobics class, moving to the rhythm of such music as the great ‘70s hit “I Will Survive,” I once again found myself in a moment when my mind was on its own.  With no prompting, no worrying, I was suddenly thinking through a bit of writing I had been wrestling with. 

This afternoon I asked a dissertation coaching client if she could recall a time when ideas about her writing had come to her with no bidding, no prodding when she was exercising or, perhaps, taking a walk.  In a slightly surprised voice, she said, “I’ve never thought about that.”  Then she said, “But it’s hard to write when I’m in a grumpy mood.”

Award-winning Irish novelist Michael Collins combines exercise and writing in a spectacular way.  A serious runner, he runs races in mountains, hills, and the desert.  When he trains, he always brings along a pencil and paper and will stop to write down a few words that will inspire him when he’s writing and resting later that day.  He says that starting to write a book in his mind while he is running “has always been the most natural process.”  Having the “release of endorphins [as he runs] frees up ideas.”

Almost any kind of exercise will elevate your mood and create the perfect circumstance for you to become aware of ideas about your writing that your mind has been working on.

If you can go straight to your computer or desk after exercising, you will very likely find that writing will be easier for you then than at other times during your day. And it is always easier to write when you’re in a good mood and when you’ve been thinking about ideas for your writing.

Have you ever had a breakthrough in your writing as a result of exercising?   I’d love to hear from you. 

Watch your email for the February edition of my newsletter—Smart Tips for Writers. If you aren’t receiving my newsletter, you can sign up on my website (www.nancywhichard.com).

All good wishes,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
www.dissertationbootcamp.net

www.usingyourstrengths.com

www.smarttipsforwriters.com

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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“How would I rate my self-care this week, particularly in the area of exercise?” is one of the questions I ask my clients to think about before we have our coaching call.

Since many of my coaching clients are writers, and many of those writers are trying to find time to write a dissertation, I have a hard sell in trying to convince them to put more time into exercising.  One client says, “I just loathe ‘working out,’ especially since it uses up so much valuable time.”

And another response– “I can’t even imagine how I would enjoy adding regular exercise into my daily routine without hating every minute of it.”

To fight my own resistance to exercise, I plan my weekly schedule around exercise.  Like writing, exercise needs to be a habit.

Here are nine benefits that I have found from exercising:

1. It improves my mood.  After I exercise, it is always easier to start writing because I am in a good mood.

2.  It helps me think. My creativity is unleashed.  Ideas pop into my mind while I’m working out.

3.  It frees my mind to process ideas that I had been working on or issues that I haven’t been actively engaged with.

4.  It dissipates anxiety.  I’m always much calmer and more relaxed once I have exercised.

5.  It vents some of my meanness, allowing me to be the nice person I like to think I am.

6.  I have more energy on a daily basis if I’ve been exercising regularly.

7.  It eats calories and also helps control my eating.  Controlling my emotional eating is a great thing.

8.  It fights Alzheimer’s.  Also, if you’re thin and at one time you were a smoker, you should be exercising /lifting weights to fight osteoporosis.

9.  When I exercise with a group, I fight feelings of loneliness that are all too common with writers (and introverts). 

And here’s a bonus reason:  Rather than taking too much time, exercise actually helps me be a more productive writer.

Are you including exercise in your schedule?  How are you doing that?  I’d love to hear from you.

All the best,

Nancy

P.S.  Could exercising be one of your goals for August and September?  Email me to help put some specifics around a goal. 

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.usingyourstrengths.com

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As you write your dissertation, have you wondered how you are going to make it through those times when you feel as if you’ve been punched in the stomach? those low points that come after devastating setbacks?

Do you ever say to yourself, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

Most of us have at one time or another.

When you are knocked off your feet by an unexpectedly critical evaluation of a proposal or a chapter, what do you do?

As I think this morning about what happened in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, I’m struck with how winning for two politicians came on the heels of huge setbacks.

John McCain’s presidential fortunes at one time had been so low that he had been all but written off.

And who gave Hillary Clinton any chance at all of winning in New Hampshire after being beaten so badly in Iowa?

It has to take a deep reservoir of courage and trust– trusting in one’s self even when you feel incredibly wounded–to come back from huge political defeats.

The same can be said for rebounding from a setback in the dissertation process.

Even though you’ve had a severe setback, you still have choices.

And to find the will to make a choice, you go to your own deep pool of resources.

Deciding that you are going to do whatever you can to get back on your feet, making a choice, and taking action can in the long-run give you strength that you would be hard-put to find in any other way.

That new strength becomes part of your inner resources.

It will be there for you to call on when you hit another snag in your life or career or writing.

I’d love to hear what your experiences have been.  How have you dealt with setbacks?

Until next time,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com
http://www.nancywhichard.com
www.nwcoaching.com

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Is it possible for you to experience happiness when you’re writing a dissertation?

Do you say that to complete your dissertation successfully, you have to smack yourself around the head and shoulders to make yourself keep going?  And you can’t think about feeling joy in the process?  Tal Ben-Shahar, author of the book Happier, would disagree.

He says that you can be both successful and happy. ”Peak performance and peak experience go hand in hand,” he says.

One of my clients speaks of how she gets a rush of joy or happiness when she finishes one of her training sessions for running a marathon. 

When I asked how that might also be possible with a writing session, she said that she has tried to make a connection between the activities, but she cannot.

But as she talked, her training reminded me of a successful writing session.

She says that she has an overall plan as she trains—the number of miles she will run any one day are pre-determined.  In addition, she has a machine, as she calls it, that she sets for the number of miles she’ll run that day, and it counts down. 

She chooses her music in advance, knowing what will help her over humps.

Even with this planning, she’ll sometimes want to quit, but she never sees quitting  as an option.  She just makes a small adjustment, like slowing down and changing her pace for a bit.  That small adjustment relieves the pressure and also distracts her. 

At the end of a session, she has a rush and a feeling of joy from staying with her plan and meeting the challenge. 

As she talked, she admitted that when she’s actually accomplished something in her dissertation, she experiences a similar surge of joy.

My client didn’t use the phrases “hitting her stride” or “getting a second wind,” but I find those words from running as apt metaphors for my writing.  It often takes a while for me to find what I want to say or for me to feel at one with my writing, but if I keep trying, I do hit my stride and I do feel I’ve experienced a second wind.

To have flow or joy in writing, that state in your writing process when you are both challenged and engaged, as in running, you have to stick with it and meet that day’s  goal.  It’s likely that you will have to make slight adjustments during the writing session in order to get past humps.  The joy of mastering yourself as well as your writing is a happiness that’s worth the effort.  

To see a video clip of Tal Ben-Shahar, author of Happier,  on “The Daily Show” go to
http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/videos/most_recent/index.jhtml and click on the box for the Tal Ben-Shahar video.

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