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Change Begets Growth
by Becca Puglisi
My body recently informed me, via the bathroom scale, that it was no longer 20 years old. The message was relayed more harshly than needed, in my humble opinion. But I listened. I began monitoring my portions. I modified my snacks. I cut back on (gasp) Mountain Dew. And my body responded with a full-on belly laugh. A guffaw, if you will, at my attempts to thwart it.
Ok, so drastic nutritional changes weren’t enough. I took a good look at my exercise schedule. For almost 15 years, I’ve walked a mile and a half pretty much every day. I’ve been tempted to run a couple of times, but I’ve got a trick knee that sometimes gives me trouble. And the one time I tried running with my husband, it didn’t turn out well (see my future post on Ineffective Techniques For Strengthening Your Marriage). But I was down to three pairs of pants that fit, and I really didn’t want to buy new clothes. So I thought, What the heck. I’ll give it a shot. I started small: jog from this mailbox to that one, then walk. Repeat. My body tried to sneer, but it must’ve been difficult, what with the weight coming off, and all. And my knee hasn’t bothered me a bit.
Here’s the thing. Walking was good for me. I liked walking. But it wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I took a risk. I did something I didn’t think I was capable of, something I’ve failed at in the past. And it totally paid off, in more ways than I thought possible. Not only am I nearing my weight loss goal, but I’m toner--a side effect I hadn’t considered. I have increased confidence; I’m proud of myself for trying something difficult and sticking to it.
I experienced the same thing a few months ago, when Angela and I started planning to publish The Emotion Thesaurus. One of us had to establish our business and take care of the finances, and neither of us felt exactly comfortable in that role. But for a variety of reasons, it made more sense to set up shop in the US. You have no idea how this terrified me. I’ve always sucked at math. The only class I ever dropped was accounting. I often tell my husband that I married him for many reasons, but the two most important were 1) so our kids could have tans, and 2) so I wouldn’t have to balance the checkbook. But the deed had to be done, so I gave a big gulp and jumped in, and I’m surprised to find myself actually doing a pretty good job. I think we sometimes focus so much on our weaknesses that they become bigger than they are, get blown all out of proportion. Sure, the math part is annoying, but I can’t tell you how excited I am to add up receipts and write checks, to make sure the monthly payments come in on time. Again, I’m doing something I didn’t think I was capable of, something that (according to my college checkbook) I’d failed at in the past.
In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve learned: everything plateaus. Without movement, healthy nothing-wrong-with-it water turns dull and stagnant, even toxic. Without change, business strategies that once were exhilarating and successful eventually become status quo and ho-hum. If we’re going to succeed in any area, we MUST push ourselves to do a little bit more, go a little bit farther.
So I’d like to offer up a writing-related challenge for us all. First, think of the last thing you did to push yourself in your writing. Then consider what good result came of that challenge. Maybe you met a new friend/mentor/influencer, or your writing improved in some way, or you made a leap in your career by taking on a new opportunity. Now, knowing that change begets growth, think of what your next challenge will be. It doesn’t have to be immediate; you might choose to implement a new technique on your next draft or register to attend your first conference. Just think about it, and determine that you will withstand the growing pains in order to achieve growth. And if you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear what you’ll be doing to challenge yourselves in the near future.
Becca Puglisi is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with 75 different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. The Emotion Thesaurus is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and the PDF can be purchased directly from her blog.
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