Is it a good time to make easy changes?

“Are you Allie?” A woman I’d seen temporarily filling the office’s front desk asked. I nodded. “I have a package for you.” She disappeared for a moment only to return with a box that could have easily fit a flat screen TV. It was my new desk. My new standing desk. Yes, apparently, the newest hires managed to persuade the powers that be into experimenting with new-fangled equipment in hopes of making us all more productive, happier people.

(I am both intrigued and alarmed at this video of an office that takes the term rat race a bit too literally)

The box remained in the corner of my office unopened. I knew once those seals were broken, there would be no turning back. The box seemed to stare at me as if aware of my thoughts. Don’t you care about your health, it seemed to ask. I do, I thought back in reply, it’s just that I enjoy sitting down too.

Change. It’s never comfortable. Is it?

Eventually, I succumbed and cut through the packing tape, my inborn need to keep my work area relatively clutter free outweighing the fear of the change the box represented. The entire thing slid out in one piece. Darn it, there goes my excuse to procrastinate set-up due to assembly.

Within minutes my workstation was online. Taking a deep breath, I found hidden handles underneath the desk. Then, with a squeeze, my workspace rose. And rose. And rose. I pushed my chair backwards and grit my teeth. Here goes nothing. I started to work. I originally intended to work for only a few minutes, but then return the desk back to its ‘seated’ position. I would ease into this change. But a glance at the clock informed me that an hour passed.

A bit later, my feet began to ache. I shifted my weight. I could have sat back down, but instead decided to go for a walk around the office if only to see how the others might be coping. The funny thing was none of them were at their desks either. Where had everyone gone? I wondered. I pulled up my calendar. Was I missing a meeting? No. By heavens! It was lunch time. The insidious device had tricked me into working into the lunch hour. The horror! I quickly fled my office to find sustenance as no one likes me hungry. No one. I don’t even think my children like me when I am hungry.

But it got me thinking. I’d accomplished quite as a result of that one simple change.

Fall is once again almost upon us, bringing with it, more change. School is once again in session, the faintest hint of red is beginning to show on the leaves outside my window and I have managed to drive more than once with the air conditioning off and the windows open. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

In fact, it can be quite healthy from time to time.

Earlier this summer, dismayed by my lack of progress and bullied by fans (just kidding Eric – I am grateful for each and every one of your friendly reminders to get back to work), I decided to change how I managed my writing goals by teaming up with another writer. The idea was we’d help each other stay on track in order to complete our various writing projects, preferably before the end of this century.

I expected I’d be better about hitting my goals, but what I didn’t expect was exactly how helpful this simple change has been. I’ve doubled my weekly word count since we started (or tripled compared to some weeks). While I have yet to write the words “End of Book Two” in my current work in progress, I am overjoyed to say it has an ending (if you are interested in either beta reading or becoming an advance reviewer when the time comes, be sure to let me know).

Unfortunately (at least for me), my accountability partner has grown overly fond of our current rate of success and is forcing me to make other changes. Like actually telling people when The Fair & Foul will be available for free download (September 8th – 12th). Or the fact that I’ve been invited to be a guest on Speculative Fiction Cantina radio show on September 23rd (details to follow).

“Change is inevitable–except from a vending machine.” -Robert C. Gallagher

If change is inevitable, then the least I can do it try to lead the change rather than let it lead me. These small changes I’ve made, and the ones I make tomorrow, may not seem much to you, but a year from now, I will look back and know they made all the difference.

Do one brave thing today

There is a lot of discussion about the movie, “The Interview,” Sony Pictures, and North Korea. When the news first broke that Sony Pictures was hacked, I thought it had to be a publicity stunt. The story was too ridiculous to be true. The group responsible for the attack had deemed “The Interview” as offensive and were threatening to not only release sensitive company information, but were also vowing to enact physical revenge upon any theater showing the film. The studio caved to the groups demands in order to save billions of dollars (and save face – really what was in those emails?) and/or because they didn’t want to risk their customers’ lives. They agreed not to release the movie as scheduled. The US government has now linked the group responsible for the attack to North Korea and Sony Pictures is being criticised as giving in to a foreign terrorist threat.

I wasn’t going to watch the “Interview” on its opening day. I don’t exactly make it a priority to see first run movies anymore (I have two small children after all). While I do enjoy the occasional low-brow comedy (especially those with a satirical edge), I rarely find them to be worth the hassle of finding a sitter. I find that I enjoy them much more when playing my DVD player in the comfort of my home.

Several weeks ago, one of these made it into my DVD queue. Coincidentally it too starred a Seth. It was “A Hundred Ways to Die in the Old West.” True to its title, characters played by various extras are killed throughout the film in bizarre fashion. The protagonist in the movie has no business living in the Wild West. With all the natural ways of dying unexpectedly, he sees no reason to involve himself in fights that could further decrease his likelihood of survival and is deemed a coward. Eventually he does find something worth fighting for. Yes, there was a scene in which a character tried to participate in a gun fight while dealing with the effects of a laxative but there was still a worthwhile message hidden among the toilet humor. The protagonist learns that while there may be a hundred ways to die, there is only one way to live – with courage and conviction.

When I started this blog a little over a year ago, I really didn’t know what to write about. I didn’t want to write about the writing or publishing process. With only one book to my name I didn’t feel that I was a credible expert. Instead I stuck to safe subjects like leadership, entrepreneurship, positive thinking, or my family.

Then one day I got mad. It felt good putting my feelings in writing, but I hesitated hitting the publish button. The nice thing about writing fiction is that your characters can express any sort of feeling about the world without those feelings necessarily reflecting back on the author. This site is anything but fiction. How then could I write about leadership if I wasn’t brave enough to stand by my convictions?

courage
click for attribution

 

I hit the publish button. The piece went out and a few notifications started rolling in. It was being read. Oh dear. I waited for my subscription numbers to start to drop. They grew instead.

I thought I had gotten lucky. Weeks passed. Life returned to normal.

I got angry again and learned by sharing my experience that I wasn’t the only one.

Unfortunately, life once again returned to normal. Normal is stagnant. Normal is what allows us to continue ignore uncomfortable conversations. Normal is what allows us to continue to accept the status quo. Normal is what makes us fear change.

However change can be just as good when done for the right reasons.

Last week, I wrote about my writing goals for 2015. These are necessary if I want to take my writing to the next level. Unfortunately as I haven’t successfully found five to ten extra hours in the week, I have to make some changes in my schedule. As a result, this will actually be my last regularly scheduled Monday post.

I will still be posting every Thursday (expect December 25th as I will be spending the holiday with family). You may start see less of me, but I hope under this new schedule I will have a bigger impact.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support and wish you all the Happiest of Holidays and an equally hopeful new year!