Love Bigger.

That’s my motto for 2011. I’m trying to stretch my heart out, make room for loving the not-yet-conceived children of my own, LOL. I know: silly, right?

Definitely silly.

But that’s my goal: love bigger. Instead of self-protecting, I want to love a person bigger than whatever issue is at hand. Not the kind of demanding and must-be-returned sort of love, but a free, open, accepting kind of love.

We humans are all imperfect beings, all mostly wanting to love and be loved, I guess. Lately, it seems not much is more important than that.

If I can also give a little bit of love to baristas, retailers, waiters/waitresses, everyone I meet, that’d be cool. Even if they don’t know it, LOL.

Even if it’s silly.

And with writing, I just want to love it more and more every day: I want to be grateful to have writing work and I want to appreciate that more each day.

Most of all, I want to be healthfully and successfully pregnant by the end of the year. If I can have the financial means to make all the above happen and provide well for my baby and his/her education, I’m content.

I really can’t think of much else I want, which is definitely different from most years, when I have a long list of career and self-improvement goals.

What about you? What are your hopes this year? Your goals? Resolutions? And how were your holidays?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags: ,

Resolution #3: Keep Changing

image My solution for everything, now, is to change. (I know I skipped number two. It’s a little personal. Not that I mind sharing it, but it just sounds… pretentious.) So on to number three.

If I keep doing the same thing, I’m going to get the same result. Every time I’m mad or dissatisfied or upset or I don’t like how something in my life is, I force myself to change something. Anything.

Because that’s the only hope for changing the result.

I’m proud of all the change I made in my life last year. I love my life, and it’s very close to my ideal, but I’m not satisfied yet.

I used to hate change, but now I’m addicted to it.

What would happen if, every day, I changed something, some little thing? Something that will take me closer to the life I want?

What would you like to change this year? What little thing can you change today, to help bring that about?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags: ,

Motivation and Writing I

I always read or skim books on motivation or learning. Even though I’m no longer teaching, I use it for myself. Yesterday, I discovered Drive by Daniel Pink, which has some hard, scientific studies on motivation and productivity, and my experience as a teacher agrees with his findings.

I’m sorry this is a little long, but I think it’s worth it. It does have some new ideas on the subject, all based in real-world research.

I was surprised that money, beyond that which puts food on the table, does not actually motivate us well. One study found that people will do things for charity or for free far more than they will do things for money.

Mark Twain summed this idea up:

There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

Other findings?

Higher rewards lead to worse performance.

Rewards narrow our focus and hinder creativity. In artists, commissioned works were rated as having the same technical quality as non-commissioned works, but commissioned works were rated as less creative.

“The highest levels of creativity were produced by subjects who received a reward as a kind of a bonus,” of which they had no knowledge until after they completed the task. And those rewards are better if they’re praise, feedback, or useful information about their work, rather than monetary or materialistic rewards.

The studies also show (and I’d say they pretty much 100% agree with my experience as a teacher) that the stick and carrot approach does not work as well as we like to think it does.

Three things work:

Autonomy: A full feeling of choice. The research says makes for happier people. There can be deadlines, but people need to feel like they can get the job done the way they want to get it done.

Writing is like this, of course. Easy-peasy. :-)

Mastery: Improvement, rather than results, make more effective goals. “The desire for intellectual challenge—that is, the urge to master something new and engaging—was the best predictor of productivity.”

This fascinates me. I said before that “numbers” goals were not terribly motivating to me. Perhaps I need to focus more on mastery goals.

Purpose: People who set profit goals tend to be anxious and depressed while pursuing them, and unhappy when they achieve them. People who set purpose goals are happier as they work, and fulfilled when they achieve them.

In writing, I suppose a goal of “making readers feel understood” is more motivating than “make $50,000 this year.”

In a couple days, I’ve got another post on the practical applications of this information for writers.

What think you about the above? And what motivates you? When are you most productive? How are you most driven?

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Musings | Tags: , , ,

What Motivates You?

It’s that time of year. I’m pretty aggressive about analyzing the year before and planning for the year(s) coming. I check in once a week, but I try to focus on the small steps on a daily basis.

Hence the need to step back once a year and look at the larger picture.

And I’m puzzled. I nail all my “idea” goals. Like “Be real” (2006–totally); “Live outside the window” (2007—took me two years, though); “Be more mindful” (2008—didn’t really succeed at that one yet); “Live slower” (2009—check).

Every year I also set “numbers” goals, what they call “SMART” (smart, measurable, achievable etc.) goals, like write X number of words a day, exercise X number a week, lose X number of pounds. “They” say these goals are THE way to make goals, but I don’t buy it. I fail those almost immediately. Those kinds of goals don’t motivate me and they don’t work for me.

So I’ve been reading a lot on the science behind motivation. This is the time of year where I’ll skim through a ton of self-help books. I’ve found that 2009 seems to be the year for “real” help, rather than rah-rah unuseful stuff.

I’ll let you know what I’ve come up with in the next few days.

In the mean time, Dean Wesley Smith is doing a repost of his Motivation series. Good food for thought when thinking of your annual goals.

People are motivated by different kinds of goals. Some prefer way easy ones, like 100 words a day, and generally do more. Some prefer perfect-sized, like 1,000 or 2,000 words a day. And some thrive if they put out a wild goal, like 10,000 words a day… even though they never achieve that, they get a lot of work done.

What kind of goals motivate you? Historically, which kind of goals do you nail? Which kind of goals do you drop almost as soon as you start?

PS: Here’s a link to an Excel spreadsheet I made, with the help of Meljean Brook, if pretty graphs and tracking numbers help motivate you. It works for up to six books, but you can plug in more or take away some, if that suits.

PS2: My offer in 2009 still stands in 2010; I’ll be happy to customize one for you, as long as it’s for Excel 2007. I can try for Excel 2003 and the like, but I’m not sure it’ll work.

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Written by Natasha Fondren in: Full-Time Writing | Tags: , ,

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