My most successful year as a songwriter, at least in terms of sheer volume, was 1998. It didn’t start with a New Year’s resolution, or even with a plan. It started with a book my father-in-law let me borrow, and then with a whole lot of exercise.
The book was See You at the Top, by Zig Ziglar. Now, I’ve got to be honest. I’ve always had sort of a love/hate relationship with self-help books. I want to make fun of them, but then I walk into a bookstore and see a big display that says “Learn this one thing.” I can’t find the “one thing” in a quick glance at the book, so I spend $27.95 and several hours of my time to figure it out. Most self-help books are sheer garbage in that way, but a few have been really helpful. Zig’s was definitely one of them.
In this particular book, Zig talked about making changes, and that often the first thing we should change is our diet and exercise. These changes will then translate into other areas*.
So I did just that. I started running. I hated it at first, but did my best to stick with it. I told a bunch of people that I was running the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta so that if I didn’t do it I would have people asking me about it. I will do about anything to avoid an awkward conversation!
I gradually found that I loved running. I ran the Peachtree Road Race that year, and have run several races since, including the Disney Marathon in 2003. While I don’t run as much now as I did a few years back, I still enjoy it and try to do it regularly.
The most interesting thing about my running experiment had nothing to do with running. It was the way the discipline carried over into so many other areas. I found myself wanting to eat better. I procrastinated less.
Most importantly, I wrote a bunch of songs that year. Something about the discipline of getting up and running most every day carried straight into songwriting.
Lately the same thing has happened with writing. Just as I used to sit down and write songs, I sit down and write these blog posts most every morning.
I attribute this to 2 things:
- Going back to school – Through doing online school for two years, I got used to the habit of sitting down at my computer and “cranking it out” for a couple hours every day. After I finished school, I leveraged this habit into blogging.
- Giving up diet sodas – Back in the summer when it became apparent that I had all but conquered my soda habit, I decided to focus that attention on cultivating a new, positive habit. Rather than having a specific result as a goal, I placed all my attention on the process. I just tried to sit down every day and write. And so far, it’s worked.
When you achieve a success in one area of your life, see if you can channel that energy directly into something else you want to improve. You just might surprise yourself at what you can do!
Have you ever had a success that has led directly to another success? Do you think I’m completely off my rocker? Do tell! Share in the comments section…