Nov 1, 2011

Stepping up to the challenge

Steve Jobs redefined the digital landscape. Linus Torvalds galvanized a movement which enables much of the Internet to exist. Terry Fox attempted to cross Canada on one leg. How can you rise to such a challenge?


Have a powerful "Why." If you read about people who have accomplished great feats, when they were not forced to do it, it always boils down to the reason. Whether it be Terry Fox, Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds, or someone trying to stop smoking or to lose weight. All have a powerful reason to accomplish what they set out to do. Without a powerful reason, the challenge will best you.


Plan and prepare. If you are going to run a marathon, you can't simply show up on the finish line and hope to finish. You must prepare in advance, whether it be running longer distances than usual, changing your diet or getting the proper running gear.


Start. It's fine to get ready and to plan, but if you don't actually start, nothing will happen. The first step is often the most difficult. You can either start slow and pick up speed as you go along or start with a bang and ride the momentum. The latter is best because once you get a good start, it becomes harder to simply give up since you've done so much in so little time.


Measure. How will you know close you are to your goal? If you can't measure your progress, it is difficult to know if your are moving in the right direction. Eventually this can become disheartening and can cause you to simply give up.


Have a support system. The harder the task, the more you need one or more people to support you along the way. Let them know how you are progressing. That person (or those people) must be people who believe in you and will encourage you when you face the inevitable roadblocks. Stay away for people who live to criticize and put people down.


Celebrate. The end goal shouldn't be the only thing to celebrate along the way. There should be various milestones to celebrate. Celebrations make the entire process more enjoyable and increase the chances of success. Beating yourself over the head won't have nearly the same effect. Celebrate, have fun, and enjoy the ride.


Back in May, I decided that I wanted to participate in this year's National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month. That's an average of almost 1,700 words per day. To put it in perspective, if you type 30 words per minute, which is not that fast, you have to type without interruption for one hour every day for the entire month. My average, so far, is about 500 words per day. Completing the novel will be quite a challenge!


I'll let you know how it went in December.

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