How to Achieve Your Goals

These three articles set the stage for this post:

You already have the necessary tools:

  • your mind,
  • your interests,
  • the power of choice, and
  • the skills of making decisions.

 

PDF of this post: How to Achieve Goals

Audio of this post:

Goal-setting 201: Achieve Your Goals

Steps 1 – 4 work you through a Review of the 100-level Goal Setting instructions. (Linked above)

1. Make sure your goal fits you

What are your natural abilities and your interests?

For success in certain goals, specific physical abilities are needed. Check yourself to see if you have those necessary skills or if you can develop them.

Example: I am 5’8” tall. I do not have the physical requirements to dunk a basketball.

Disappointment is likely to be the result if you choose an unreachable goal. I know, the song says, “To reach the unreachable star, … that is my quest…”

2. Look carefully at the results of achieving the goal

What are the rewards, the income, the toys, the life-style, the prestige, time demands?

What are the responsibility commitments, the family and friends changes, the business obligations?

3. Decide, Choose

Are the work and results worth the effort and costs?

Is this the goal you can commit to?

4. Work with your Mentor

Someone who is successful in the Goal you have chosen. This will likely cost money. It will for sure cost in time, energy, commitment, and work.

But all of these actions are investments in your future. The future that is defined by the goal you set for yourself to achieve.

If it is a worthy goal, your achievement will bring other rewards that you haven’t thought of yet.

Life is always scattered with surprises.

Ownership Achieves Goals

Steps 5 – 11 create ownership of the goal you are pursuing.

5. Visualize the Goal

Cut out photos and other reminders of the rewards at the top of your goal. Place them around your living and work areas.

6. Verbalize the Goal

When you look at the visual reminders of the rewards, speak your decision and your right to the prizes. Talk with your friends and family about your goal. This solidifies its place in your mind and life.

7. Affirm your Decision

Remind yourself and others that the decision you made is Good, Worthy, Important. That it is leading you to your goal. Proclaim it while you work to attain it.

8. Become a Mentor

Find someone with the same or a similar goal and share what you are learning.

9. Plan a Mission Accomplished Celebration

Don’t wait until the goal is reached to plan how you will celebrate the achievement. Get a notebook and make the details specific and elaborate. Create an Invitation List. Include unlikely people, like the President. You can invite him/her, and might be surprised.

10. Throw a party

When your goal is achieved, use the plans you have already. Hire a Party Coordinator, deliver your detailed plans, and let someone else do the work of making it happen.

11. Give Back

Be a conduit for giving to others. This can begin while you are pursuing your goal. The more you give, the more room you have for receiving.

– – –

Accidents of good fortune do happen occasionally, without effort on the part of the recipient.

But, by putting these 11 steps into action in your life, you eliminate the disappointment that comes later in life when your fairy godmother doesn’t twang you with a surprise reward for doing nothing.

Look back over the 11 steps. Acknowledge that you can do each of them. You are able.

Goal Fits
Like Results
Chose, Decided
Have Mentor
Visualize
Verbalize
Affirmation
Be Mentor
Plan Celebration
Party
Give Back

Just one more thing is needed:

Begin.

Take the first step toward identifying and achieving your goal.

Delay destroys determination.

Don’t delay.
Be determined to achieve success.

Put in the effort!

Receive the rewards!

No fairy-godmother-twanging necessary.

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How to Respond to Change

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How to Respond to Change[/stextbox]

Let’s assume that you read my blog last week on Tuesday and that you followed my example as suggested in the post. You made a list of all of the new experiences in your life over the past few years.

    • A list of changes that came into your life without your invitation.
      >A list including new things that happened to you.
      >Including changes in your health or the health of a family member.
      >Changes at work that required that you take on new roles or tasks or responsibilities.
      >Changes in your spouse’s life – because those impact you, too.
      >Changes in your children’s lives: sports, school or church clubs, music lessons, health.
      >Pets that have been added or subtracted.
      >Close friends that have experienced drama or trauma and you became a supporter.
      >Changes at church or work or school.

You get the idea.

I don’t want you to be overwhelmed by creating the list.

This exercise helps you to realize some underlying factors that may be manifested in relationship struggles, health deficits, patience changes with close friends and family, or lack of motivation that once enabled you to accomplish more.

If you did not create a list, stop reading and take the time to make a list now. I’ll wait.

Here’s the link to last week’s post.

What are the possible responses to a changes list?
I see two options:

  1. Learn from the changes and challenges
  2. Ignore the effects and try to shield yourself from events that trigger responses

Homeostasis is the wonderful word that means “things stay the way they have always been for me.”
But, since homeostasis is impossible, even for a rock, the idea of staying the same is an illusion.
Change is a fact of life. You can’t avoid it. Sometimes you can modify it. But you can’t stop it. Why not be a caterpillar?

You will Respond to Change one way or another. Let’s look at two options.

Option 1:  Learn. Change.

  • Accept change and enjoy the journey to see how the difference will work out, which results in peace and calmness.

Actually, the first step in learning from the life changes in your list is already done: you’ve acknowledged that life has changed around you.

How does one go about learning from life’s changes?

Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do. Change always shuts some options, but inevitably opens others. Search for the open doors. The opportunities.

When cancer came into my life, change was not an option. Things would change, I chose radical surgery. I had to give up my wedding photography business – at least temporarily. Probably permanently. A year after surgery I still cannot hold my big camera steady, but I’m working to re-gain my strength and stability.

How do you respond when life changes stop you from doing something that you have chosen to include? An important career or skill or hobby or life-style?

Replace it with another option. Review your sometimes hobby interests. Make one a direct choice. Cultivate the interest and skills that are needed to become – an artist, a writer, a gardener, a student. Gain skills and knowledge. Video on-demand courses are plentiful and inexpensive.

Create your own on-demand videos or webinars. The equipment to make that possible is not expensive nor difficult to master.

Attracting an audience or following of thousands – even hundreds of thousands – is not out of the question. But, even without a huge following, choosing and doing what you can will add meaning and satisfaction to your daily routines.

Option 2:  Ignore. Resist.

  • Fight against change and see difference as unwelcome, worry that the way others see you might diminish, which will cause your self-image to also suffer, and you to be nervous and fretful.

I will again use my cancer experience as illustration.

Once my diagnosis became known, I had many people who felt they should share their advice with me. Uncles, brothers, and acquaintances were paraded before me as proof that I should follow their examples.

With no surgery, my uncle has lived for 20 years after his cancer diagnosis.”
Just ignore it. Pray. God’s will be done.”
Take this herb or supplement or aroma therapy to get it cured naturally.”

Ignoring a life-threatening diagnosis is never a good idea. I chose to trust my doctors. Chemotherapy followed by surgery were scheduled. My life would never be the same. Different, but still good.

Resist

We’ve seen a big Resist Movement in the USA lately. I can speak from the point of human psychology regarding the effects on the resisters: their choices and efforts bring only frustration and anger into every part of their lives.

I strongly believe in resisting.

  • Resist the urge to Give Up.
  • Resist the urge to feel sorry for yourself.
  • Resist the feeling of helplessness that will come over you as you lie in bed, too weak to get up.
  • Resist the thoughts of rejection because God allowed this to happen to you.
  • Resist being an invalid.
  • Resist, I Can’t.
  • Resist Self Pity.

As Henry Ford said, Whether you think you can or think you can’t, youre right.”

There is wisdom in the prayer of serenity written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
(1892–1971)

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_Prayer

You can do as much as you think you can. But no more. Dream Big! Fly!

Use this as a stepping stone to add to your life, to add to your repertoire of skills and accomplishments.

Turn your “Give up!” into a “Give Out!”

  • Find others who need encouragement and be their champion.
  • Volunteer at a school (I know, that’s becoming harder and harder to do.)
  • Volunteer at a hospital or managed care facility.
  • Organize a group from your church or club to meet a need in the church or community.

 

Find a way to get it done, not a reason why you can’t!”

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What’s Your Choice?

During the daytime I taught high school English and History.

At night, especially on the weekends, I was care-giver to a male quadriplegic. He had fallen backward off an oil platform and broke his neck. There was very little he could do for himself except tell his attendants what to do and how to accomplish each detail.

My patient did not allow me to choose what channel to watch. I watched what he watched – mostly PBS. He introduced me to Masterpiece Mysteries.

Every detail of his care had micro-details attached to them. What, when, how, for how long, to what end. To be sure you understand, he instructed me how to brush his teeth, the direction the brush should move, and for how long, on each tooth. All bodily functions except digestion must be performed for him to his standards.

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What's Your Choice [/stextbox]

Choice

I chose to do this work. It was not forced on me. It was my choice. Because it was my choice it was very important to me that I perform at the optimum level; excellence was the only option. This was my choice before discovering that it was expected of me, if I were to continue working for the family.

Fortunately, I had previously worked for my father in the hospital as a Physical Therapy aide. My father was very demanding in regards to the way work was performed in his department. There was only one acceptable level: excellence. He would show me how a task was to be performed one time, and I was to execute the maneuver that way ever after. I could take longer to do the work than he did – for a while – then I was to be up to speed.

I was physically adept and at least moderately intelligent, and I, too, believed in the goal of excellence, so I chose to work with him, helping the patients as he directed. I saw other workers who complained about the working conditions and demands placed on them. They didn’t last long in the department.

It occurred to me that I was different from them in that I had made a choice: my father was the expert, I was to learn and follow directions. It seemed only reasonable that I should strive to meet his expectations for quality. I valued his approval.

Looking back on this experience with my father, I understand what he accomplished in me. I learned to expect high quality performance from myself. Even when there were no external expectations for that level of work. This actually started in my elementary years of schooling.

My father would talk with me as if I understood words and ideas from the adult world: news, medicine, literature, world events. And I gained from that interchange with him. He also gained, because he had few friends with whom to discuss his ideas.

Influence of Choice

During 40 plus years of teaching I have observed the influence of choice on my students. I have also observed the influence of parents’ choices affecting their children.

I was blessed with insight into the process of learning that made a significant difference in my students. Those students who accepted the role of following my instruction and processes made significant advances in their academic careers. Students who were grade levels behind, according to the tests, would surge forward to catch up and surpass the requirements for their ages and grades.

For this to happen once could be called a fluke. But this happened over and over again, in multiple school locations across the USA.

The one commonality in each case was choice. Parents and students who chose to learn, did so, and excelled. Link to article on choice to learn

Of course, not every student responded with the choice to learn. Some chose to believe that he or she was not to be subjected to the expectations explained for them. When the parents agreed with the students, advancement stagnated and the students became unhappy, disrespectful, flagrantly refusing to comply with the classroom expectations.

From the vantage point of 40 years’ of experiences, the common thread can be distilled into one idea: choice makes a world of difference in the learning process. A student who chooses to learn, will learn, and often at an accelerated pace.

Learning is a choice.

Link to article on Learning is a choice

A decision or choice not to learn, or just the absence of the choice to learn, is an obstacle impervious to the skills of the teacher.

So where and when does a child make the choice – to learn or to resist?

Science and research indicates that a child will have had experiences by the age of 4 that will greatly influence – or determine – their future academic successes. Family encounters and events set the stage for learning.

Early-Life Choices

Parent and grandparent choices are of paramount importance during the first years of the child’s life.

What should these important people be doing during the infancy and toddler years of their children’s lives?

  1. Read aloud, with the child in your lap. Read at bedtime every night. Read the same books over and over until the child can recite it from memory.
  2. Talk with the child in a normal voice about all of the things going on around him or her. Talk about what the child is seeing and experiencing in the stores, in the car, in the home, in church.
  3. Work through decisions that you are making – outloud for the child to hear.
  4. Answer all their questions. If you don’t know the answer, say so, and add “but I know where we can find out.” and then find out.
  5. Play, explore, get on the floor, in the grass. Make tents and forts. Inspire and extend their natural curiosity.
  6. Listen to music together.

Do these things and prepare to be amazed by what your child or grandchild is able to accomplish.

Later-Life Choices

The photo of the rose at the top of this post is a great example of later-life opportunities available through our choices. This particular plant was scheduled for the dumpster of a Garden Center near our home. We happened by and my wife took pity on the sorry-looking thing. The sales person said we could have it.

It came home with us and we planted, watered, fertilized, pruned and otherwise pampered the thing. We even talked to it, encouraging it to grow.

It grew. Flourished would not be an exaggeration. It has bloomed over and over again. Each time we marvel at the beauty and perfection of the blooms at every stage of development.

If you have an older child still living at home, and you didn’t do these things, start now. Turn off the TV and introduce your child to the characters and events found in books. Read out loud for bedtime.

Talk with your child about the power of choice. No matter what was lacking in their infant years, their choice to learn now will go a long way to create a learner.

You can model the choice for them. You choose to become a learner of new things.

My quadriplegic patient taught me nuances of choice that I might never have learned without him.

Like PBS Mysteries. I’m still hooked. My choice now.

Exercise your power of choice by choosing to learn something new to you.

How to be a blogger has become my New-to-me choice to learn. You could participate in this project by choosing to Subscribe to the weekly email delivery of my blog posts. I’ll send you a nice thank-you and a gift.

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Think about choices that were made by others for you. How did they influence you?

Think about choices that you have made. What were they? How did the results measure up to your expectations?

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Your Super Power

“Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

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I don’t remember how I came to learn about Superman. We didn’t have a TV in the house. The radio was closely guarded to monitor everything that might enter my little mind.

I remember when I was about 5-years old, running around with a towel tied around my shoulders, my arms outstretched, making zo-o-o-ming noises, pretending I could fly.

In my mind I was flying.

My mother read to us every day. Stories of heroes in the Bible who did amazing feats for God. Stories of animals that could talk – The Old Homestead Tales. I learned the joy in placing myself inside those stories. And the freedom found in directed pretending, or fantasy.

Years later when I first saw Christopher Reeve in the TV Superman show, I was hooked. I knew it was pretend. But, what a great pretend it was!

But adults seem to lose the skills of imagination, of creating events and abilities that include going beyond the literal world. The literal world seems to empty the brain of dreams and goals that reach beyond the facts of life in the right now.

My family was quite pragmatic. This is life; accept it and be happy, or at least be content. Other than the Future as painted in the Bible, don’t expect much from this life.

I was in my thirties when a friend introduced me to some revolutionary books. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

I learned that I did not have to accept right-now-life as the only option. Within my mind was power that I had never dreamed of having. It took me back to my childhood times when I could be anyone I wanted to pretend to be.

But now, some respected authors told me that “content” was not my only choice. I could change my life into whatever I dreamed for myself. Not Superman, of course, but dreaming of a life of abundance was okay for adults.

I read and re-read those books. I bought every “positive thinking” book I could find. Super Powers were within reach for anyone, everyone who would choose to awaken them.

Superman, Ironman, X-men – they are all make-believe, pretend.

But I have, and You have, true super powers.

(I am going to blur the distinction between pretend and reality to make a point.)

When Superman was growing up and first learned that he had the power to fly, he had to learn how to use that skill. He couldn’t just automatically fly like a bird or a plane. He crashed into things a few times – maybe a lot of times. He made mistakes. He messed up. That didn’t mean he wasn’t Superman.

New skills will take you some time to perfect. Practice. Crash. Practice some more. Repeat until the skills are smooth, natural.

But, one day, after enough practice…

Look! In the mirror! It’s not a bird or a plane… It’s Super You!

You’re a published, successful writer. You’re a counselor to thousands, sharing the secrets of wealth, influence, happy, healthy living. It’s your dream come to life!

Whatever your dream is, inside your mind is the power to accomplish that dream.

The name of the Central Power Controller is — Choice.

Make a choice. That’s the first step. That step won’t immediately put you flying high in the clouds. But, without that step, Your Choice, the clouds will remain out of your reach.

Choice reveals your Goal. What you want to achieve. Where you want to fly.

I remember that my father was not accepting of my dreams. He told me more than once to get my head out of the clouds.

You will have those friends, and maybe relatives, who give the same dream-beating advice; get out of the clouds.

Let me emphasize, You have the power. Negative words cannot take away your choice, unless you allow them to. Choice is a God-given gift. Claim it and hold on to it.

However…

You probably suspected that there would be a ‘however’ appearing somewhere in this article. Here it is.

However, Choice alone will not accomplish much. If Choice is alone, it probably will only serve to make you dis-satisfied.

Fortunately, God knew what He was doing. He didn’t give us just one gift.

A companion gift that He gave to each of us is commonly referred to as The Ability to Learn. With this gift you can gather knowledge to learn what you can about the Goal that is present in your Choice.

He also gave us the gift of Effort. Do. Work. Strength. It goes by many names. Action is my favorite name for it.

But, without Knowledge, Action is just a futile beating of the air.

And without Action, Choice is nothing but a fleeting dream, an indistinct Goal that taunts you from an unreachable distance.

Exercise your Choice, then gather Knowledge so that your Actions will be directed toward achieving your Goal.

Keep your Choice, your Goal, in front of yourself at all times. Pictures, Words, Reminders of the Choices that you have made and of the Actions that you have taken toward your Goal.

Your Choice, your Goal, and your Actions will combine to create in you Skills that make your efforts more effective, more successful.

Which leads us to the next Gift: Persistence. Stick-to-it-iveness.

This is the Missing Link in the story of those who fail to reach their goal. They gave up. They quit trying.

Persistence involves forward thinking with backward evaluation. Keep the Goal in view while looking at what you’ve done. Evaluate the skills you’ve developed and used to see how they might need honing, up-dating, tweeking.

If you can, find a Guide, a Mentor, a person who has achieved what you dream, that will travel this journey with you and offer counsel, then your Efforts will be more effective, and your journey more pleasant, and probably shorter.

To re-cap:

  1. Make a Choice. Identify the Goal.
  2. Gather Knowledge about Achieving your Goal.
  3. Take Action toward your Goal.
  4. Develop Skills that focus on your Goal.
  5. Be Persistent.
  6. Work with a Mentor.

One of my favorite quotes that I want to share with you:

“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” William James

Your mind is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive,” and able to solve mammoth problems that appear to be like tall buildings.

That’s You! Making use of your Super Power!

Recommended Reading

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
The Principles of Psychology by William James

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I would love to hear from you. What books would you recommend? What steps would you add or subtract from this plan?

Tell me about your experiences in achieving a goal.

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Is Excellence a Choice?

What is Excellence?

What is the best you can be?

The answer to that question depends on what you are attempting to do. Each of us has a repertoire of tasks and work that has been practiced and honed to a fine quality.

That level of performance qualifies as “excellence.” Any work or performance that is your best, deserves that label.

How does a person reach the standard of excellence?

Is it your usual choice to be and do your best?

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Is Excellence a Choice [/stextbox]

Everyone starts off, in every human endeavor, as an amateur. Amateur work is identifiable as a beginner’s effort by those who have worked to advance to a higher level of performance. And that’s the path to achieving excellence.

Work to achieve a higher level of performance. Practice, study, compare your effort with the work of a professional.

But, not for the purpose of discouragement. Rather, for the purpose of discovery. What additional, beyond what you have achieved, has the professional discovered how to do? And, perhaps more importantly, what is the next step in achievement that you must do in order to advance toward the level of professional?

My last article revealed the “Puzzle Strategy” for solving problems. It’s a Puzzle listed 7 Steps to take in mastering a problem.

This strategy can be applied to the task of achieving excellence in many of life’s arenas.

This Puzzle Strategy is not intended as a once-and-done exercise, or as something that will produce discernible results in a day of practice. My wife (my Proofreader) commented that this looks like a semester of class work. In reality, it’s more like a lifetime of effort.

So, let’s get started… Download the PDF of this article and use it as a Study and Practice Guide.

Let’s suppose that you want to become a writer of excellent material.

What is the first step to take?

Step 1

Label the goal: I will become a writer of excellent material.

Find writing that is recognized as Excellent. There are numerous authors who qualify at this level.

Make it your work to read and study the writings of several authors in several different genres.

This may take weeks to accomplish. But don’t rush. Take the time to understand excellent writing when you read it.

Step 2

Study the parts of the puzzle: words, sentences, paragraphs, transitions, essays…

During your reading and study you will likely discover some work that especially appeals to you, words and sentences that resonate with your emotions and intelligence.

Step 3

Break these passages and paragraphs into their parts. Study how the words fit together to create images and concepts.

Move the words and phrases around to see if they can fit into other shapes and patterns.

Apply the emotions and ideas to your unique set of life experiences.

Write the material in your own words. This practice will be invaluable to your writing career.

Step 4

Identify the edges.

Pay attention to the number of sentences used by the original/professional author. Notice the lengths of the sentences and paragraphs. Notice the subjects and verbs of each sentence. Each has probably been chosen with care to assist in the crafting of the intellectual and emotional response that you had to the writing. Notice the placement of the subjects and predicates, of modifiers: adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases.

Repeat Steps 1 – 4 several times before going on.

Step 5

Work on the smaller groups of the puzzle.

Develop your understanding of the sentences by working on each sentence separately.

Move the parts around… put the subject in a different part of the sentence. Repeat moving the parts around with the verbs, and the modifiers.

Change the words to ones that you would commonly use. Notice what that does to the tone, the emotion, the overall meaning.

BTW, if the ideas of subject, predicate, verb, modifiers… are uncomfortable for you, you probably ought to start with the basics of writing until these labels are thoroughly understood. Try teaching them to an 8-year old to see if you really understand.

Step 6

Now work on the groups of sentences that form paragraphs.

Change the order of the sentences within the paragraph. Take each sentence out, one-at-a-time, to see what happens, how the meaning is changed or destroyed.

Practice writing paragraphs to state a simple idea or experience. Use paragraphs of different lengths.

Finally, outline an original essay or short work that supports the author’s ideas, but using your experiences and understanding. (‘Outline’ doesn’t have to look like your high school English teacher demanded. Just create a plan using words and phrases. Then put the plan in a particular sequence to guide your writing.)

Use the main idea from Step 4 to re-write the material so that it says something new… perhaps the exact opposite of the original author’s concept.

Step 7

Repeat with a new author or piece of writing. Then repeat again.

If you have a friend who is not intimidating to you, from whom you can listen to instructive criticism without getting your feelings hurt. enlist that person’s help.

Or enroll in a community college writing course.

Your Voice

As you work through this sequence you will likely discover a voice that you like for your writing. Practice that voice. Hone it so that it is automatic for you. Practice it with different genres of writing.

Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Excellence, Your Choice

Excellence is not about being better than others. Excellence has been defined as ‘doing more than you thought you could.’

Perhaps, as in “I never dreamed I could write like that.”

Or reading something that you wrote and feeling the emotion rise in you in response to the words, phrases, ideas that came from your mind.

Excellence is always the result of choice. You choose to do your best, or you choose not to. Not choosing is still a choice.

I put my best into each task that I attempt. That’s excellence, for me. Yet, I expect to do better on the next iteration of the task.

Writing, for me, is an outlet. My ideas, my emotions, my memories flow onto the page and are left there as a legacy for my family and friends. Even if no one else reads them, I have written and published to the world words that no one else could put together like I did.

Writing for an Audience

Writing for others to read is not as easy as writing for only yourself. Your audience cannot pick up on a memory or inference that is activated when you read a line or phrase. So, what makes sense to you may be a puzzle for others.

Proofreader

Find someone who will proofread what you have written and offer insight into what an audience might experience when reading your writing. You might need to have a written agreement with your proofreader, stating that you will not be offended, hurt, or intimidated by the reader’s suggestions.

It’s your choice.

The photo at the top of this article was colored by my grandson when he was 5 years old. I think he did excellent work.

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How would you write this article?

What steps would you share with others?

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I look forward to hearing from you.