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Category Archives: Life

Do you put the PRO in Procrastination?

10Let’s start by defining the problem: What does it mean to procrastinate? Procrastination can be defined as a voluntary, irrational, delay in action despite the expectation of a potential negative outcome. While there are many different ways people procrastinate in life, I am going to focus on a really critical issue: how it affects our ability to communicate through writing.

When it comes to writing, have you ever thought any of the following:

“How do I get started?”
“What if my idea stinks?”
“But – it’s not ready to share until it’s perfect”, Or…
“Hmm, I’ll just do it tomorrow…”

If you can identify with any of these statements then you might be a PROcrastinator. This is the first post in a 4-part series that will help you learn more about what procrastination is (and what it isn’t). You’ll also learn what your biggest writing demons are and what you can do to begin writing with ease using several concrete strategies to help you get things to DONE.

Writing is an essential skill needed for so many areas in our lives today. It’s a necessary skill to master for success – in academics, in business, even in our social networks. Students need to write to learn, to take notes and to study. In professional settings, the ability to write well can factor into decisions about hiring and promotion. It brings rewards of visibility and portability. People need to write to think, to process and communicate their ideas and to integrate new ones (e.g., keeping idea journals, sending emails). And, writing offers a unique kind of self-education. But, for most people, writing is a skill that is seldom developed after high school.

Procrastination affects performance

The ability to write and to do it well is critical for success. Yet when it comes to writing,  many people suffer from writer’s’ block. Many studies show a significant negative relationship between measures of procrastination and measures of performance. If you’ve ever experienced writer’s’ block, then you know how painful it can be to break through and get work done.

Knowledge = Power

It turns out that there are many different types of writers’ block that cause people to procrastinate. And each of these challenges require different strategies to break through. The first step to taking back control of your writing is to understand why you are struggling to get work DONE. A great resource to help us move forward is a questionnaire designed by scientist Robert Boice in the early ‘90’s called “The Blocking Questionnaire”. It assesses your writing problems to identify the specific reasons why you are blocked. Armed with this information, you can then take explicit and specific action to solve your writing issues. I have taken this tool and made it available online. You can find at the following link:

In my next post, we’ll begin looking at the seven different types of blocking that can cause problems for your writing. But first, you need to know more about what exactly is causing issues for you. So, click on the link above, and answer the questions. It can take a while, so give yourself a good 15 minutes of uninterrupted time.  When you learn your results, take a screen capture, or print them out… the survey is designed to remain anonymous, so you won’t be able to return and see your results again later. To do so, you’ll need to start the whole questionnaire over again, which would be a major pain. Then join me next time as we start to tackle your personal writing demons and clear the way for you to get things to DONE.

Find your spark and start a fire now!


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Harness creative tension to change your life

9Alternate title: How you can use the power of physics to get what you want.  

I think it’s only fair, since this post uses some technical jargon, that I start with a little self-disclosure: It may amuse you to learn that I nearly failed physics in undergrad. At the time, I was convinced that physics was irrelevant to my life. Fast forward several years to when I decided to pursue advanced academic training to seek answers to questions that inspired me. The questions I was most passionate to find solutions for required that I dust off my old physics textbook. Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was to learn that not only was physics actually relevant after all, but it was inspiring. The name of the degree on my diploma: “PhD in Biophysics”. Go figure.

Now here’s where we get a little technical. Tension is the force that stretches something. Imagine holding a rubber band between your two hands. At first, imagine that your hands are close together and there is slack in the rubber band. But now, imagine that you begin to pull your hands apart. As you do so, you are applying tension to the rubber band and it begins to stretch. At first it is easy to stretch the rubber band, but eventually the band becomes quite stiff and it becomes harder and harder to keep pulling your hands apart. We have created “stress” in the rubber band. This stress can be substantial. You’ll recognize this if you happen to let go of the band with one hand by accident. The release of all that pent-up tension can be quite shocking. OUCH!

Ok, are you still with me?

Now let’s see how this little bit of physics can help us understand what it takes to get what we want out of life. Let’s imagine that our left hand represents where we are in our life right now. And that our right hand symbolizes how we envision our future reality. Maybe we want to lose weight, start a new career, live in a bigger house, make more money, have a more fulfilling social life, or maybe we want all of the above… The larger the gap between where we are now and where we want to be in the future, the greater the effort and the more ‘stress’ we’ll be under to reach our goals. There are really only two ways to reduce this tension.

First, we can get started on doing the hard work of moving ourselves one step at a time from where we are now to where we want to be. We can do this by setting achievable, focused and strategic goals that move our current reality (our left hand) towards our clear vision of the future (our right hand).

Or, we can give up on our dreams. We can allow ourselves to accept the status quo (where our left hand is) and reimagine our future (by moving our right hand towards our left hand) so that it looks more and more like where we are right now.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of giving up on my dreams is extremely unsavoury. I would much rather put in the work – even if the going is tough – by learning new skills and building strength for the journey. After all, the end result will most certainly be worth it. You know what they say about diamonds: they start out as pieces of charcoal that just tolerated stress very well.

Find your spark and start a fire now!


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Let’s Start with WHY

8Why now? Why this way? Why should you care? Tough questions…

I have always believed in doing something that matters and in making a difference. The work I do should matter and mean something more than just a way to pay the bills.

I believe in taking the path less traveled. In not blindly following the herd. To stand out, To ask “WHY”. Why now? Why this way? Why not?

For as long as I can remember I have been motivated to seek answers and to try new things. Not just things I’ve never done before, but things that have NEVER been done before. It can be lonely, going it alone. It can be scary too – going where there is no map to guide you. But the thrill of answering the WHY questions is also powerful. The sense of satisfaction from seeing a vision of “what could be” – that no one else can imagine – and then charting my own path from here to there – well, it’s addictive really.

It’s also a great workout: it builds capacity, creativity and innovative ways of thinking about ‘what is’ and ‘how things work’. I chase wisdom. I break new ground and then I share what I’ve learned. I am a trailblazer, a storyteller. I lead. I see things that never were and chase them into being.

I take a tiny spark of an idea and build it into a roaring fire, a beacon to others in the dark. I believe that nothing is impossible. I believe there are no dead-ends. That if someone tells you “NO”, you’re either asking the wrong question, or talking to the wrong person. I push boundaries. I reject the status quo.

I ask WHY. And then I create a roadmap for others to join me in the chase. I do work that matters, and my hope is that it also inspires.

Find your spark and start a fire now!


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