January 21

Get Unstuck & Learn To Write As a Joyful Practice With Nick Wolny

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HHF 7 | Learn To Write

 

Sometimes, to get unstuck, you need to get the things in your head to paper. Writing has become a great way to help lessen depression, anxiety, and stress. In this episode, Dorci Hill sits down with Nick Wolny to talk about how you can get unstuck by learning to write as a joyful practice. A former classically trained musician who now writes for publications like Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Medium.com, and more, Nick has the know-how of what it is to create the life that you want to wake up to every day. He tells us how writing can help you feel cathartic and declutter what is going on in your mind. He then shares his three-step approach to putting pen to paper and letting it go without being a perfectionist about it. Join Nick in this conversation to learn more about writing because not only will you be better at it over time; you also feel good while doing it!

Listen to the podcast here:

Get Unstuck & Learn To Write As a Joyful Practice With Nick Wolny

Getting unstuck and learning to write is a joyful practice, that’s what’s on the healthy, happy, fun menu. It’s time to get you tuned in and turned on and tuned up with your weekly dose of The Healthy, Happy, Fun Hour with me. It’s my mission to turn your frown upside down and teach you how to incorporate play, purpose, and pleasure into your daily routine so that you create that life that you want to wake up to every day that’s full of love and laughter. Joining me is none other than Nick Wolny. Did I say that right, Nick?

You did, first try. Great work.

Here’s the thing, you did it phonetically for me and I was like, “I’m a crafter, I’m a knitter and I love wool. This is easy. I can do this.” Nick is a former classically trained musician and writes for publications like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Business Insider, Medium.com, Social Media Examiner, all the cool, awesome places. As if that wasn’t enough, he has delivered over 45 live TV appearances. Nick, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me. It is great to be here. It’s a little bit cloudy here in Houston. We both have about seven lights on us. It’s bright.

We look nice and bright and the conversation is nice and bright. We are good to go. I am tickled to have you here with me for a little chat. We’re both believers in there’s nowhere near enough joy, happiness, and healthy fun these days. The world needs good news and good stories from good people like you and me, Nick.

It’s important in terms of cultivating that positivity and starting to cultivate habits that you not only can become skilled at overtime but that you have a great time and it feels joyous as you’re practicing them.

Lord knows I love to be happy and giggle. It makes everything easier. It lightens the mood. It lightens everything. After Nick and I chat, we’re going to have some good news stories around our neighborhood, we’re both Houstonians, around the US and the globe. We need some more good news stories. I want to go ahead and jump in and get started with Nick. The first thing I always like to ask though, how are you doing?

I’m doing great. I’m doing fantastic. Thank you for asking.

I’m glad to hear that. Thanks for being here. I know you’re crazy busy, writing all over the place, doing all the things. I love to write and journal, doodle, even color mandalas, all that stuff. Those are the yummy things I love to do with pen, paper and colors. If it’s not obvious why all of the colors in my hair, that’s one of my creative genius ways of getting stuff out and into the world. It’s also an excellent form of therapy. By the way, my BFF is Google, We’re having a chat and I discovered that one article had eight different reasons to keep a journal or a diary. In positive psychology, another article, they had 83 benefits to journaling for depression, anxiety, stress. To me, it seems that this is a powerful means of releasing what’s inside of you. You are a prolific writer. Do you feel this way as well that it’s a powerful way to get stuff out?

For a lot of us, we write a lot as children and as teenagers and young adults. If you attended university, then you also had an experience of writing a lot and writing regularly. The writing would become increasingly technical. You were perhaps writing papers. You were having to write emails or cover letters and resumes and things like that. It’s almost like writing became less fun after a while, combined with the fact that we use technology more than ever.

We grew up writing with pen and paper. Nowadays, young people may not interact a whole lot with a pen and paper writing experience. It’s starting to find that experience again of writing as a tool for expression. You can use it for professional reasons, in terms of sharing your expertise with other people. You can also use it for personal benefit. If a lot is going on or there’s a lot on your mind, the act of getting it out of your mind and onto paper or some document can feel cathartic and it can feel like you’re decluttering what’s going on in your mind, in a sense.

Find that experience again of writing as a tool for expression. Click To Tweet

I love to tell people brain dump. You can tell when they are getting frustrated. I’m in a couple of different accountability groups. You can tell when you ask someone a question and all of a sudden, they start going and ranting and I’m like, “First off, take a breath. Secondly, when was the last time you did a brain dump and wrote without thinking, not even making sentences, putting stuff down, getting it out? It’s almost like you’re in the Matrix and you download. You plug-in and let it out. Get it out.” I noticed something rather unfortunate. Growing up, we had to learn to write in cursive. Print and then in cursive and all this. It’s like a lost art form. Many kids have no clue how to write in cursive because they’re used to the little stylus pens, typing on their computer, their phones, tablets or whatever. I do feel like it’s a lost art form.

There’s also some evidence coming out that doing something analog, doing something with your hands, in particular, is a great way to help balance out the brain from how much information we processed throughout the day, all day long. Especially with what’s going on, many of us are looking at screens all day, processing important information on screens all day. From that perspective, having a more sedentary experience, our brains start to become imbalanced.

Writing can be a great way, specifically writing with a writing instrument, a pen, a pencil, a marker in a journal or a notebook. That kinesthetic experience lights up different parts of our brains. That process can start to rebalance us a little bit. If you feel overwhelmed from looking at screens so much all day long and processing information all day long, then maybe you take a little break and you do something with your hands, something that allows you to be kinesthetic. Writing your thoughts in a physical notebook can be one of the best and easiest ways to do that.

I’m sure that you and I both have attended many, almost to the degree of ad nauseam, conferences, conventions, even online and the virtual space. I used to look at people and you would see them taking notes and then doodling. I used to think, “That’s rude, isn’t it?” You’re not paying attention. What I love is the science that shows people that are doodling or adding stuff to their writing when they’re in an environment like that, where they’re listening, that’s one form of absorbing information.

When you’re writing, you’re cementing it even deeper. Doodling, you’re accessing different parts of the brain. It’s three different ways. You’re bringing that information in and cementing it. It’s not that you’re being rude or not paying enough respect to the person on screen, stage or whatever, you’re paying them the highest compliment because you are putting that information in your brain in a unique way by doodling.

My cup says, “Hello, beautiful.” It has all these multicolored pins on my desk. For me, as a creative, I love to write and it has to be a certain kind of pen and colors of the rainbow. Seeing different colors triggers a different thought. Instead of seeing everything all in one space, black and white, that automatically triggers me different creative thoughts or different processes. It’s cool how doodling something as simple as putting little scribbles on a piece of paper can be powerful for recall.

People take notes in many different ways. There is a rising trend called sketch noting, in terms of understanding concepts through drawing little diagrams or perhaps drawing shapes that can help you more easily understand certain concepts. It is a great way to not just information that’s coming in, perhaps if you’re in some note-taking situation, but also in terms of getting information out. You feel like you’ve got too many thoughts swirling around or too much information that you’re trying to juggle in your head. It’s nice that it can be a two-way street from that perspective, both for therapeutic reasons and also for processing information professionally as well.

HHF 7 | Learn To Write
Learn To Write: It’s important to cultivate habits that you not only can become skilled at overtime but that you have a great time as you’re practicing them.

Pen to paper, we both love that. I’m glad there’s such a market for this, the spiral notes or the notepads and the pens. I cannot go to any store and not walk down the pen aisle, even though I have more pens than I will ever need in an entire lifetime. I have this thing for pens, they have to be super fine, waterproof, and then all the colors of the rainbow. That’s one of my little happy places. For me, putting pen to paper, even starting the process of writing. I find myself doing that no matter what.

If it’s for a webinar I need to create or slides I need to do or an article, I start from pen to paper. It primes the creative pump and gets those thoughts going. I do switch over to my tablet or laptop. I always start on paper first. Your love of writing is evident because I see it when we talk, I see it in everything that you do and say. I was wondering if you would give us some suggestions. There are many different ways and platforms to get your message or your articles if you want to write articles out. You have a three-step approach to putting pen to paper and letting it go without strangling it and being a perfectionist about it.

One of the biggest things that people experience is that they try to have the words that are coming out of them be perfect, completely put together when they’re in that first draft experience. That is what begins to start this feedback loop people create for themselves, “I must not be a writer. This feels challenging. This feels hard.” In terms of the three-step process that I teach, it’s a three-draft process. Let’s say you want to write a blog or an article or something like that and you want it to end up being polished, being coherent, being fun and interesting to read, and to learn about something new. I recommend a three-draft approach, first draft, second draft, and third draft. What’s key here is that your mindset and your objectives for each of those drafts are a little bit different.

First, we have the first draft, which is all about getting the words on the page as quickly as possible. You will probably write some incomplete sentences. You will be thinking about tacos. In the middle of a sentence, you’ll write the word tacos. It’s like playing the game of getting the words on the page as quickly as you can. Time yourself. Make a game out of it. Try some different things to practice getting more uncensored with your writing for this particular draft.

It’s a challenge that we experience, especially in this world where there are much more social media and personal brands and things like that. It feels like you don’t have an outlet or an avenue to be a little more unbuttoned or a little sloppier with your thoughts or with content in general. For that first draft, play the game of getting the words on the page as quickly as you can. For the second draft, this is where you go back through the top. The second draft is my least favorite because you have to make sense of what you’ve written. For me, sometimes it’s rough.

On that second draft, you might look at that and go, “What was I saying right there?”

It’s not abnormal for me to throw out sometimes 50% of my first draft, but it’s worth it because, within some of that writing, there are also the nuggets that I’m like, “That’s how I want to explain this topic. I had forgotten about this little detail and I’m going to expand on that a little bit more.” For the second draft, I like to call it the surgical second draft. It’s being patient with yourself. You’re going to go one sentence at a time, one paragraph at a time or one section at a time. You are working on having what you’re saying make sense. The filter that you’re trying to work through is logic, getting it from a place of not making any sense to making sense.

The reason the second draft is challenging for most people is that it feels like whiplash. You have this sexy first draft where you got the words on the page fast. “Look how many words I wrote today.” For me, it’s like a negative number in terms of how many words. I’m losing words rather than gaining them. Have some grace with yourself in that first revision process. When you’re going through the second draft, you’re working on it. Does it make sense? You’re not obsessing too much over your word choice or having it sound like you yet. You want it to make sense. You do a pass for it to make sense.

In the third draft, this is fun. This is where you get to tweak and maybe you swap out some words here and there and make it feel a little bit more like you, sound a little bit more like you and then getting it polished up and getting it ready to go. My experience is that people often have the wrong mindset or the wrong objectives for the draft they are working on and that’s where people get stopped when they are trying to write. The most common example is they’re trying to do a 2nd or 3rd draft mindset on a first draft. You can’t be super critical of yourself when you’ve got nothing on the page yet because it’s too challenging. It’s too negative. Also, doing a first draft, freewriting, and then not going back through and making sure that what you’re saying makes sense. It’s clear and easy for people to understand. Did you know that Warren Peace, the book, was written at a seventh-grade reading level?

No.

Many of the most famous, most successful books throughout the years are written at a 6th or 7th-grade reading level. Even if it’s a classic and it’s long, people are like, “It must be difficult to get through.” In reality, the most successful books are at a 6th to 7th-grade reading level. We want to pursue that in terms of ease of reading. If I have to pull out a dictionary 10 or 15 times over the course of an article, that’s too sophisticated of a language. Dumb it down for me. Make it easy for me to understand what’s happening. That’s my experience. I like that approach. That approach has had a big impact on me personally and maybe it will for you as well.

Journaling is both therapeutic and helps for processing information professionally as well. Click To Tweet

It is true. Sometimes it’s part of perfection and trying to make sure that we sound like an expert. You don’t have to throw all of these humongous terms out at people for your expertise and your love of whatever you do to come through. It comes through even if you say it at ease. It’s interesting that you say that because there are times when someone asks me about a book I’m reading, “Have you read XYZ book?” I’ll say, “Yes. That was an easy read.” Sometimes I want books or an article, whatever it is I’m reading. I’m reading for a specific purpose. I read scientific articles and journals because my degree is in the biological sciences. I can understand them.

Honestly, when I talk about anything science-related, I dumb it down not because I’m thinking the person I’m talking to is dumb. Honestly, most of them are not going to understand. Here’s this phrase, I love it, I still remember it to this day from the anatomy class, “Pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelial cells.” Who on earth is going to first off know what that is and even give a flip about what it is? It’s in your gut. If I turn around and say, “It’s those little cells in your gut. They’re waving around and grabbing stuff as it goes through. It’s the nutrient grabber.” They’re like, “Oh.” That already makes it not only interesting, easy to understand, and fun because then you’re like, “You know those little cilia things.”

Making things easy does not mean that it’s not a complicated process and that you’re not an intelligent person presenting the information. When I started writing for different articles and writing in general, I worried how it would sound and all this and I procrastinated. The sad thing is many people get stuck writing something as simple as a birthday card or a thank you letter, because they’re worried, “Is it going to sound right?” You talked a little bit about the mindset and the draft not lining up. Can you go into a little bit more detail on that because that goes into almost any aspect of writing?

Going back to the analogy of how we wrote a lot at school unless your day-to-day job requires a lot of writing, you wrote a lot in school and you suddenly are writing way less. For many of us, we have the continued sense that we had in school. It’s like, “If I needed to write something that was a few pages long, I could crush that.” The reality is that for many of us, we’re out of practice in terms of writing things regularly and that begins to come up. In terms of facility and being comfortable with, “How do I want to express myself? What words do I want to use to describe how I’m feeling?” What we can shine a light on is that you perhaps haven’t used words to describe how you’re feeling in a long time. That’s something to take a look at.

I experienced it personally where I wrote a lot in high school. I wrote a decent amount in university. I was like, “I could write stuff. I could write something.” When I started to get back into writing, I was like, “Do I know the English language? This is much harder than I ever remember it being.” When you’re in school, you’re in a high absorption environment. You’re learning tons and tons of stuff and having to apply it in real-time.

When you transition into being an adult and transition into the workforce, you usually don’t have that same degree of critical thinking, having to critically think about something and then turn around and write about it on a regular basis. That’s something that comes up for people a lot as well. It blocks them and stops them. They’re rusty, for lack of a better term. They haven’t had to write their feelings in a long time. It goes back to what we open the conversation with, the benefits of journaling, the benefits of taking a few moments and writing something for personal reasons. It’s going to help you put words and language to the feelings that you have. It can help improve your communication with others as well.

This conversation is obviously about writing. You publish. You’re in a lot of different publications regularly, every month. There are plenty of people that want to do something as simple as to write their own story, their family story or stories that have been in their family and then get that published for their kids or their grandkids and yet they’re still stuck in the perfection, “I don’t know exactly what to say in all of this.” We’re all storytellers. We’re always telling a story.

The cool thing about our history is that our ancestors were verbal storytellers. In time, of course, the written language came about, so then it became written storytelling. In today’s society, no matter what you do, whether you realize it or not, you are selling yourself when you talk to people when you write through a story. My question to you is if someone wants to sell themselves, their products, start getting into magazines, publications, or whatever the case may be to get the written word out and throw them out to the world if they feel like that is their purpose. What advice or first steps would you recommend that they take to get over that perfection hurdle and get going?

Number one is to start writing on a regular basis. It could even be for personal purposes and it can be for a blog. You don’t have to publish what you write, but I find that writing is a muscle. What ends up happening is that someone will say, “I want to write an article and put it in this publication,” and then they’ll save up their energy. The perfection trigger rears its ugly head and makes it worse when you put that pressure on yourself to have that one article that’s going to go out and be exactly right. On top of that, since you’re rusty from not writing, it’s going to take you a long time to write that article.

Write for yourself. You can write online. There are plenty of self-publishing outlets and things like that. I use Medium, which is an outlet. Anyone can make a profile and start publishing blogs, their thoughts or anything like that. Number two is if you’re looking at being in a particular publication of some kind, what helps is to do a little bit of initial research to see how you apply for the publication? How do you write for the publication? Is that information on their website? Often, it is. If they accept publications from non-journalists, then they’ll indicate that on their website because they want to get those people to send in submissions.

Some of that information can be helpful in giving you a container. For example, some outlets want maybe 500 to 1,000 words. Whereas other outlets want 1,500 to 2,000 words. You want to make sure you have that information. That way, you don’t send them the wrong length and have a good idea, or your personal story hasn’t gotten disqualified for technicality. That information can be helpful. It can give you a little bit of shape in terms of how you want to achieve your goals. For me, when I have something like that like, “This is what it’s going to take,” it’s motivating. It’s not such a mystery anymore and I’ve got a clear path from point A to point B. Those are two tips that I would definitely recommend.

HHF 7 | Learn To Write
Learn To Write: If a lot is going on in your mind, the act of getting it out and onto paper can feel cathartic. It can feel like you’re decluttering what’s going on.

One of the things that I did when I started writing and I was involved in a writing organization in Houston. It’s nice to start searching. You can find many places on Facebook and LinkedIn to get in with other writers. Not necessarily that they’re all trying to write like their best novel or New York Times bestseller, but just the art of writing. I’m glad you said this. It’s true. It’s a muscle. I love Pomodoro time, where you set a timer even if it’s just fifteen minutes. Set that timer for fifteen minutes and all you do is write.

Sometimes, when I know I have to write something or a speech, or whatever it is, I sit there and I’m like, “I don’t know how to start this. I’m not exactly sure what to say.” I will literally put on the paper, “I don’t know what to say. I’m supposed to be writing and I have no clue what I’m writing.” The next thing you know, you’re writing. Of course, that’s the part where you talked about, “You can take it in your second draft. Take that nonsense out. It’s just priming the pump to start getting things on the paper, on your tablet or whatever.”

We did talk about it being such a therapeutic release, whether you do it to get in the practice and exercise that muscle or you do it to get into practice to start getting it out in a bigger way. I would say this is probably a good sadistic way to practice that muscle. You’re telling me about this app and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” It’s called The Most Dangerous Writing App, which sounds, on one hand, strangely fun, and on the other hand, somewhat cryptic. What the heck is The Most Dangerous Writing App?

There are several different resources online that can help you get the words out on the page, but I like this one in particular maybe because it’s a little crazy. It’s what’s called The Most Dangerous Writing App. If you google that information, then you’ll be able to find it. That’s the actual name of it. It’s a web page. You go in and you can choose how long you want to write for. If you want, you can choose to have the website give you a writing prompt, like a journal prompt. Some people want to record themselves and other people want to be told what to write. You start writing, and the game is that you start writing and you cannot stop for that amount of time. The way this app is set up is that if you stop for five seconds or more, everything that you’ve written gets erased.

That’s a nightmare because I have had, accidentally, things that were deleted or I didn’t save properly, or whatever. It’s the worst feeling ever. When you told me about it and I did get on the side and looked, I didn’t start because I thought, “If I get started writing and pause for a minute, and that five seconds hits, then it’s gone. I’m going to be cursing Nick for telling me about this thing.”

You don’t have to write in it stuff that you are trying to get done per se.

It’s probably not a good idea to do that.

It’s a good exercise though in getting used to actual freewriting. For many of us, we think we’re freewriting but we’re pondering in the middle and things like that. It’s completely closing the gap between what you are thinking about and what is going on the page. Often with the first draft, just because of society, we have this amount of filtration in terms of what we’re thinking about. There’s a filtration that takes place before there is what we’re expressing, and that’s good in most cases. In terms of building that connection between what I’m thinking about and then getting the words on the page, it’s great for that because it creates this forcing mechanism.

What you also find over time is that your writing gets quicker. In terms of if you’re thinking about something, you’re able to sit down and spit some words out. If you’re someone who needs some forcing mechanism. I’m someone who loves games. As soon as there is a challenge of some, “I challenge you to write for three minutes without stopping.” I didn’t even want to write for three minutes, but now I absolutely do and see if I can do it. For a lot of people, if you have a game or challenge affinity, then it can be something that can help get you motivated and can help improve your writing as well.

There is a lot of science to prove that point as well. If you can gamify almost anything that you’re doing or teaching, not only does it make it easier to learn, but it solidifies what you did learn in a deeper way into the brain and also helps fire new neurons and create new learning pathways. It’s a win-win on a lot of different levels. I want to ask you, what is one just for fun? I can tell that writing is fun and joyful for you. What else though is there about you that’s creative and fun that someone might not realize by looking at you if they’re new to you and your world?

Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that my background is not in writing, journalism, or anything like that. My background is in classical music. I went to music school. I have two degrees in classical French horn. I got done with one degree, and then I decided that I wanted to get another one. It’s interesting, especially in our economic climate, even in the past years, the arts and the liberal arts can get shunned. Sometimes, they can be discouraged from pursuing the arts like it might be a bad career move or something like that. It might be a challenge to make money and things like that.

Many of the most famous and successful books throughout the years are written at a 6th or 7th-grade reading level. Click To Tweet

My experience has been that the skills that I learned in music school have ended up being some of the most important skills for my career in marketing and writing. It’s interesting how that has shaken out. Those skills are learning how to practice something consistently, for example. Learning how to find that creative energy and develop a routine. Also, you’re performing a lot when you are in the arts. You have to get over the nerves that may come with that. I learned a lot about my nerves in public speaking. The nerves never go away. You just get more familiar with them.

Learn how to channel that in a different way.

When I first got done with music school and then I decided not to pursue music professionally, I was down on myself. I was like, “That was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have done something else instead that was more employable.” It’s interesting how it’s circled back. There was an article in The New York Times about how those with Liberal Arts degrees or Fine Arts degrees salary-wise catch up to engineers. By about the age of 35 or 40, it levels out because usually, people with a liberal arts or a fine arts background, your ability to think about things differently, put things together, working with people, and tapping into that creative piece. That ends up being a valuable skillset as your life goes on. It’s been an important part of my life.

I would not have expected that. I have been a dancer since I was four. My mother stuck me in every possible dance class to give her peace of mind from me and my sister. It’s true. Being in any type of different art form requires your mind and your body to think and move differently. It’s amazing that as you get older, those types of things come into play. Even conversation topics, writing or whatever it is, my mind thinks in such a different way that I will put things together that I know some people go, “What on earth were you thinking when you combined this or this person and meeting with this one?”

Yet, they turn out to be the most beautiful connections and the most awesome opportunities because my mind thinks differently. Let’s face it, it’s true. When you are dancing, singing, and performing music, your mind has to think differently. There are multiple things going on between your mind, your body, and all of this to do the art form that it doesn’t get the credit that it’s due, unfortunately. I’m glad that things are changing.

Nick, I want to say thank you for taking time out of your super busy creative schedule to chat with me. It was my absolute pleasure because I know there are many people that say, “Writing is a scary thing. I would love to read. I’d like to write but I don’t think I can do this.” I’m happy to have you give us these simple tips and easy steps so that people can start exercising that muscle to get their words on paper. Nick might even have a template of something for us.

You’ll have a link to a free template of mine called Get Unstuck. It is a PDF that has an article template and my top tips. In that template, I also show an article that I’ve written for Entrepreneur.com, and it’s nice. I’ve got some highlighted footnotes that appear throughout that article so you can see the tips in real-time with an article that ended up being successful. If that resource sounds like something that you want to have in your back pocket, then you should check it out for sure.

I’m grateful for that gift for all of our audience. Before we leave with our conversation with Nick, I always like to leave with a little dollop of Dorci. Little quote, little fun, something or another to encapsulate our conversation. This is about being in the media and in honor of you, my dear friend, Nick. Your opinion will never cut me a check or pay my bills, and that’s for me. When you start to write, one of the things you think about is, “What is someone going to say? What are they going to think and someone else’s opinion?” You can let that hinder you or stop you in your tracks from doing anything else and putting anything else out into the world. If you get down to it and if you’re wanting to make this a career, your opinion is definitely not going to pay my bills, so keep going. Thanks, Nick, for being here. We’re going to say goodbye for now to Nick and hello to some good news stories because it’s not for me to say that I’m feeling some way. I’m feeling like I need a good news story in my day.

Let’s get into our only good news story. I have many different stories I want to share and I only have so much time. This one is a police officer who adopts a girl he comforted during a welfare call. He is Lieutenant Brian Zach of the Kingman Police Department in Arizona. He adopted a little girl that he met during a welfare call back in 2018. In about March of 2018, he was working as a patrol sergeant when he got a call to check on Kaila’s residence. She was four at the time and a survivor of abuse. Zach spent the evening bonding with her. He said they colored and snacked. She held his hand and she was this cute little thing.

Once the detectives came, they picked her up and took her to the hospital. After spending hours with Kaila, Zach went home and of course, told his wife about her. He shows up and he’s like, “I got to hang out with the cutest little girl. She was awesome.” During this time, Kaila was being treated for multiple injuries, unfortunately, as a result of physical abuse. Child Protective Services couldn’t find an immediate placement for her, so Zach and his wife stepped in. He said they had to get a bed, highchair, and potty chair. She came with a bag of clothes that didn’t fit and a sippy cup, and that was it.

Zach said Kaila immediately became a part of the family. She’s happy and she’s flourishing. When they got her, she knew about three words and he said she grunted like a caveman because she didn’t know how to talk. Now, he said she absolutely loves to talk, like yours truly. Zach and his wife foster little Kaila for about two years. He said they lived each week not knowing if she was going to go back to her biological parents or how long they were going to get to keep her. On August 18, 2020, which was 30 months after she came into their care, Zach has officially adopted Kaila into their family. Zach’s message to families considering adoption is to not be afraid of the process because it’s well worth it.

HHF 7 | Learn To Write
Learn To Write: Journaling helps you put words and language to the feelings that you have. It can help improve your communication with others as well.

Zach, I agree wholeheartedly because I also am adopted. It was the best thing ever for me when I found out about it because I absolutely love my family. I had the honor of being able to find and meet my biological family on my mother’s side. I have aunts, uncles and grandparents. I found out I have some brothers and cousins, you name it. I’ve got a whole bonus family. I know sometimes the stories aren’t all the best when it comes to adoption or fostering. I want you guys to know there are many kids out there. There are many amazing stories. If it’s on your heart to do it, go forward because it is one of the most amazing things you will ever be a part of in your life. That brings me to my final thought of the day and we’re going to talk about resolutions. Did you make one and are you still following it?

According to different articles, stories and publications, around January 17th is what they call D Day for New Year’s resolutions. Meaning, it’s the day that most people give up. It’s a destructive day for New Year’s goals. That’s a good question. I know there are several reasons why people fail to move forward. You get excited when the clock turns to the new year. For that calendar, you flip the page. It’s almost like you think you’re in this other universe, this whole new year and yet you have a little bit of a letdown. It’s like, “It’s only the next day.” Whatever the day was before, that was the 31st. Maybe that was a Monday. Now, the 1st is a Tuesday and you’re like, “It’s a Tuesday.”

There are some ways that you guys can stick to your resolution, if you call the resolution, a New Year’s goal, a New Year’s plan, whatever you want to call it, so you don’t get to around about the 17th of January, and fall flat on your face and go back to your old habits. I don’t want that to happen for you, so how are we going to create some new habits and make it what I love to call habitual, something that you do every day without question because it becomes subconscious? It’s not even something you think about because it’s now something you do every single day automatically.

There is this website, it’s a social network. It’s for athletes, and it tracks their runs, and bike rides. It’s called Strava and it looked at more than 108 million entries in the United States and found out like I said, typically around the 17th that most people bail on their fitness resolutions. Let’s face it, we all know we need to be healthier in whatever movement fits you, your lifestyle and your body best is what you definitely need to be doing and adding into your routine. How are we going to make this a habit and something that you will do without question, even on the days where you are questioning, “Why am I doing this?”

One of the first ways is to make sure it’s attainable. I know you’ve heard this before. I’m going to say it again. How do you eat an elephant? It’s one little bitty bite at a time. That’s the only way to do it. Frankly, if you’re on a resolution to lose weight or get healthier, an elephant is an awfully large meal, and you don’t want to eat it or consume it at one time. You can’t. That will derail you faster than anything. It’s a metaphor. I don’t mean to go out and eat a real elephant.

Those of you that love animals, I’m not saying to kill and eat an elephant for crying out loud. However, anything you do needs to be small, attainable, and something that you can start getting some immediate wins from or for or through. I love to talk about simple steps and micro habits. It’s the little things that you do that you can start to see a difference in 24 hours because it’s something that you’ve put into your mindset and you’ve changed and all of a sudden, you see a result within 24 hours. That can happen.

Start doing some things that you can see changes or significant whatever within seven days. There are some things you can start doing, adding, and changing into your life that will get you immediate wins. I want to be honest with you. Whatever age you are, at this moment, when you’re reading, you didn’t come to this stage because of things that you did over the last 30 minutes or 30 days. Let’s be frank, you are where you are now because it’s an accumulation of your lifetime lived up to this point. Saying that means that some of these habits that you have that are not serving you at your highest and greatest level are going to take you a bit of time to change, to put in new habits, and to start doing. Some of these things you might be able to start doing within seven days, seven weeks, or some might be seven months.

I don’t want you to get put off by that or be afraid of that because for all intents and purposes, hopefully, every single one of you reading is going to be around a lot longer than seven months. Seven months is going to pass quickly, so why not put some things into place, on the board, on your calendar, on your goal list, or whatever it is? If it takes you seven months to get there, think of this, by the time you get to the seven-month mark, all of a sudden, you’ll look back, you go, “Look at everything I’ve done, accomplished, or tried whatever the case may be.” Instead of getting to seven months, and you’re in the exact same place doing the exact same thing with the exact same results. That is the definition of insanity and that’s no excuse of how to live in 2021, with the same old that you’ve been doing up to this point.

Make it attainable, make it something that you can achieve quickly and build upon that, and add the next step in. We’re humans. We have to have a plan of action. You can have the best ideas on the planet, all these goals, and all these dreams, but if you don’t put the aligned action into place behind it, it will never happen. It will never get off the ground and you will never achieve what you’re wanting to have in your life. You must get into action. You need to be able to track the process or the progress and have someone with you to be accountable.

There are all kinds of different apps. You can look them up, you can Google crazy. You can go into the App Store or Android Store. You can find all sorts of things that make it easy for you. Look at how you track some things and how you normally go about your day. What apps do you use? What programs do you use? Are you a writer? Do you prefer to write things down? Do you write it on a calendar? Do you have a calendar on your phone? However you work, find something that can help you track what you’re doing every single day that you are going to do. Make sure it’s something that you’re going to do because let’s face it, if you’re not someone that uses a calendar, if you don’t even have one on your wall like a physical calendar, don’t go get one thinking, “I’m going to write this down every day. I’m going to keep track.”

You won’t. I’m telling you. I’ve been there and I’ve done it. Even though I’m a writer, there are certain things I don’t write down. I’d rather put in an app or a little calendar on my phone or something instead of physically writing it. Find a way of using technology or old school that works best for you so you can track and look back and remember getting back to safe, it takes seven months to make a change. Look back on your progress for seven months. If you never write it down somewhere, you can’t look back and see how far you’ve come. I don’t care how good your memory is. You are not going to remember every single step that was amazing that you took along this journey if you don’t have it written down somewhere.

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We’re human. We’re going to slip and we’re going to get off the bandwagon. We’re going to fall off the wagon, at some point. Don’t hang out there. It’s okay. Give yourself some grace. If you are wanting to be healthier and you have a piece of cheesecake, call me up, I will share it with you. I’ll get a piece of cheesecake. We can get on Zoom and eat it together. We’ll have fun. It won’t bother you near as bad. I promise. If you’re doing it and having fun rather than if you’re eating it and sabotaging yourself saying, “I can’t believe I’m doing this. This is the most horrible thing. This is going to be bad for me.” Your body is going to rebel other than eating it, enjoying it, and giving yourself some grace and go, “I ate it. It was great,” and move on and get back into action.

Don’t hang out in the Cheesecake Factory for days on end. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work well. My stomach does eventually rebel. Let’s not have that happen for you. Get help from others, whether it’s someone that is on the same path as you doing the same type of program, goals, or whatever it is. If it’s someone that you know will keep you accountable. When I say accountable, I don’t mean someone that’s going to be like, “Dorci, it’s okay. You fell off and you haven’t worked out or ate well. You let your mindset slip a little bit and you’ve gotten into the ‘poor me.’ It’s okay.” No. I mean someone that’s going to be like, “Dorci, I get it, I hear you. You’ve had a moment. You had a couple of days where you’ve been down in the dumps, and you’re questioning everything. Put on your big girl pants and let’s go. You had a bit of a moment. You’ve got to get back up because here’s the thing, you’ll never be different if you stay in the old habits. You’ll never have better if you keep doing what you did yesterday. If you keep staying in this little pity party, you’re never going to have anything more than another pity party after pity party. Let’s go get up, sister.”

You need someone who’s going to love you enough to give you some space and get up in your space to help you move and transition out of that, to get your right back up and move to where you need to be. Triggers, something you need to make sure that you’re aware of it. What is triggering for you? If you are trying to eat healthier, if you have foods you know that you don’t have the willpower to avoid eating, don’t buy it. If you have someone in the house that’s not eating the same way as you, please work out a plan with them so you say, “If you’re going to eat that stuff, please have it somewhere else.” It does not work. If you are in a home with someone, and they have completely different goals and are not willing to work with you and honor you and your path, it’s going to be a little bit tougher.

That’s where you need someone outside that accountability buddy to help you with that. It can be difficult. It can be done though. If you’re wanting to get up earlier, move your alarm across the room where you have to physically get up out of bed and turn the darn thing off. Because getting up out of bed and turning it off more times than not, you’re not going to crawl back into bed. If you want to go to a gym, it’s probably best to find a buddy.

Whatever it is that you want to do, find buddies to help you and find ways to avoid the comfortable things you’re already doing that get you out of doing what you want to do that’s in your highest and greatest, and that’s going to get you to the goals that you want to set for yourself. You have to know your naughty bad triggers in order to be aware of them and know how to flip and switch them. When you start reaching your goals and celebrating your little victories of not eating whatever it was for a day for 24 hours, it’s like, “I haven’t had it for 48 hours. I’ve worked out three days in a row. I’ve not watched TV past 10:00 or I’ve not watched negative TV at all,” or whatever it is.

Celebrate the little victories because when you start achieving these goals and little victories, these are what make up the big huge changes that are significant that make you not want to go back to the way that you were living before. If you need to reach out to me, we’ll have a success party, we’ll have a victory party. I am all about celebrating the small steps because that is what makes your life successful.

My last thing is, remember, this is a marathon. Our life is not a sprint, and I want you to enjoy every step even if it’s rocky or comfortable. Know that moving through it will make you so much stronger, healthier, and happier because you’ll turn back again, and look at how far you’ve come and you will amaze yourself. This is not a sprint. We’re in it for the long haul because we are here to make your life as healthy, as happy, as fun as it can be, and sometimes that takes a little bit more than 24 to 48 hours and that’s okay because I’m here with you for the long haul. That is it for this episode.

Thank you for hanging out with me. I cannot wait to have you come back. Don’t forget to go to the website. You can click to find out more about all of the amazing guests. Also subscribe, reach out to me and let me know what did you like and what you would like to know. If you would want to reach out and connect because I love connecting with you guys. My wish has always been for each and every one of you is to be healthy. You are happy and you’re having so much fun in this life that you’re living and creating. My biggest Texas love and hugs to each and every one of you. Bye for now.

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About Nick Wolny

HHF 7 | Learn To Write

Nick Wolny is a former classically trained musician turned contributing business and technology writer for publications like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Social Media Examiner, Business Insider and Forbes to name a few!. Nick is also a current media and marketing strategist for online entrepreneurs.

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Journaling, Joyful Practice, Publishing, Therapeutic, Writing, Writing Process


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