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What were your resolutions?
January 2, 2012 - Stephen Browne
Did you make any New Year's resolutions?
Of course if you've read my thoroughly researched article on the subject you know that New Year's resolutions are somewhat of a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it's not a bad thing to think about making some changes for the better in your life. On the other hand, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment if you expect dramatic changes to happen overnight.
Nonetheless, I've made some resolutions. They've actually been a long time coming, and the resolutions have been preceded by a fair amount of planning and effort, which is actually part of the recommended strategy for achieving your goals.
The New Year's resolutions in this case are symbolic beginnings of plans already set in motion. In my case, I've got two.
Resolution one: I resolve to get a more formalized martial arts class going, with a regular schedule of classes and fees.
I've already got a few students who come by on an as-can basis. I also guest teach once a week in Slayton at an established group. It's great fun but 1) doesn't bring in regular income, and 2) I am forever teaching beginners who come and go. That's not bad, ceaseless repetition of the basics is the foundation of skill in the martial arts. But there are advanced drills and exercises that would benefit my development that I never get to do because I don't have advanced students.
To that end I've had car and yard signs made and business cards printed. I've also set up a space in my basement. Now I have to design a brochure, get some punch cards made, then advertise.
Resolution two: I resolve to get going on a self-syndication project.
At my last newspaper I had a rather well-regarded column that actually won an award for "Best column - personal," in the category of North Dakota newspapers of below 12,000 circulation. A modest beginning but a promising one.
I also have a blog that has garnered comment from as far away as Poland, Turkey, Israel, and Peru.
Time to put some discipline into the effort and start selling to a wider audience. Guided by Minnesota's own self-syndicated columnist Jill Pertler's "THE DO-IT-YOURSELFER'S GUIDE TO SELF-SYNDICATION: Using Secrets, Shortcuts, Strategies & Psychology to Get Your Column in Print," I'm starting the tedious process of putting together an email list of small-to-medium circulation newspapers in Minnesota to approach with sample columns.
As I've contemplating these resolutions I noticed something, the hard part of getting these efforts off the ground is heavily front-loaded.
That is to say, the tedious stuff like getting design and print jobs done, setting up, putting email lists together etc, are at the beginning. Teaching and writing are a breeze for me - once the prep work is done.
This is not to discount future tedium such as sending creating and sending invoices, keeping track of income/expenditures and paying taxes!
I also remember from many years ago, that this was the case when I quit smoking. The hard part was at the beginning.
I'd tried cutting down, told myself to lengthen the interval between cigarettes - and would from time to time notice that I had a cigarette in my mouth with no memory of how it got there.
So one morning after I'd gone through a pack in one sitting, I quit.
It was tough at first for sure. Lucky I had a job doing hard physical labor outside in the Oklahoma summer. It kept my hands busy (not to mention dirty) and kept a lot of water passing through my system as I drank and sweat.
And I started coughing. I coughed day and night. I coughed so much I pulled a muscle over my rib cage and had to wear a support band.
The good thing was, after the first week I didn't want to smoke anymore, I just wanted to stop coughing. By the time I quit coughing - about two months later, I rarely had a desire for a cigarette, even around other people smoking. I never wanted to go through that again.
I understand that response is not typical. But the point remains, in most worthwhile things the hardest part is getting started.
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