Allowing Ourselves to be Successful – Guest Post by Alex Fayle

Last week I had the most amazing five days. I did everything on my to-do list every day and had time during the day to putter around, watch some TV and do some minor house repairs.

I never used to be like that. I never used to have tenacity. I’d get all excited by something shiny and new, jump into it, and find my interest trailing off in direct proportion to the amount of work or length of time required to finish the project.

So I’d let myself get distracted by whatever new shiny object caught my eye and off I’d go again.

However, I got tired of not completing projects. Yes, I wrote a novel and got it edited (where it’s now out doing the agent rounds) but I did that while I wasn’t doing anything else, so it was easy to do.

Now I have a whole bunch of projects on the go with slow progress happening in each one and years of work ahead of me before significant success arises from any of them.

A recipe for walking away, no?

Yes, especially given how much I don’t like hard work (my sister, the Urban Panther is the same way).

But I really love what I do and I didn’t want to give it up, however tempting it might be to walk away.

Fortunately Kelly from Maximum Customer Experience recommended a great book called Get Clients Now! by C.J. Hayden.

So I bought it and started the program it lays out. But it wasn’t the book or the program that taught me tenacity.

Determination by pixelposition on Flickr

It was one tiny little piece of one worksheet—two pages of text in the entire 230 page book.

Hayden reminds us that everything we do is a choice and how when faced with work, we often choose to head off in a different direction. Instead of telling us to get over it and get to work, she talks about something she calls “Special Permission.”

Special Permission is a sentence directed at whatever normally blocks us from being tenacious. It’s not harsh. It’s not a command. It’s permission.

Here are some examples she uses:

I have permission to ask for what I want.

I am able to do things I fear.

I deserve to be successful.

I can make a good living and still have time for fun.

At first I considered ignoring this part of the worksheet. After all, these sorts of things are just games we play with ourselves. I’d do fine without it. Then I started thinking about the self-sabotaging behaviour I’d exhibited in the past which left projects unfinished. So I gave it a try and this is what I came up with:

It’s okay to be consistent.

That’s it. It doesn’t look like much, does it?

For me, however, this one sentence completely and utterly changed how I work and how I see myself. I no longer beat myself up for veering off in twenty directions at once. I no longer look at my to do lists and then go watch the entire first season of True Blood in a single day (two weeks yes, but not one day ;) ).

When I’m tempted to change my focus, I look at the check box on my worksheet that asks “Did you use your special permission today?” and I remember that I’m not a teenager rebelling against authority.

I chose all these projects and it’s okay to work on them. I don’t have to fight against the challenges I face.

I can simply be consistent and work on them bit by bit every day.

And from that little bit every day, the successes are piling up exponentially.

So how about you? What blocks you from being tenacious with your dreams and what special permission will you give yourself to get past that block?

* * *

Alex Fayle from Someday SyndromLet me introduce you to Alex.

Alex Fayle, of Someday Syndrome, is a former procrastinator who uses his visionary ability to uncover hidden patterns and help people break the procrastination obstacle so they can finally find freedom and start living the life they desire.

I first got to know Alex through the remarkable Karen Swim, and now enjoy following his work at Someday Syndrome and his musings on life, work, procrastination at much else besides on Twitter, @alexfayle.

Photo Credit: Determination by pixelposition on Flickr

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30 Responses to “Allowing Ourselves to be Successful – Guest Post by Alex Fayle”

  1. On February 25, 2009 at 8:37 am Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome responded with... #

    Thanks for including me in your tenacity month Joanna - it’s my lesson for 2009 - to stick with things even when I’m faced with lots of work. It’s amazing what passion for a topic does for persistence!

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Discipline is not enough - by Isabel Joely Black

  2. On February 25, 2009 at 9:26 am Ching Ya responded with... #

    Thanks for the inspiring post, Alex.
    I am in the process of breaking through the shell and get to the dreams of doing what I love, while earn a living. I don’t get much encouragements for having that dream, to be frank. No one believes there could be better ways than a work from 9-5. I just don’t buy that. My bro finally got his achievement recently, he’s 40, and he has been working hard for his dream ever since 25. I believe the day will come, patience and persistence play a big part. I like the idea of giving yourself permission & time to do things bit by bit. And start to give myself more permissions daily. ^^

    Ching Yas last blog post..Slumdog Millionaire.. Cheat? or Destiny?

  3. On February 25, 2009 at 10:26 am Monica responded with... #

    What a fantastic and inspiring post. This reminds me of something I just read on the Better is Better Blog… it was about fitness, but the same thing applies to any goal: “one is better than zero.” It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something! But like you say, we need to give ourselves permission to take that little step. Your “Special Permission” card is a great way to get us there - I’m going to use this today as I continue to build my own writing career. No one could have prepared me for how slow this process is! But there is progress, as long as I’m consistent and take little steps every day.

    Monicas last blog post..Best Social Media Sites for Writers

  4. On February 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm Cath Lawson responded with... #

    Hi Alex - I like the idea of giving yourself permission to do things, instead of commanding yourself to do them and I can see how that would work well for me. I think I need to check out that book.

    But I had no idea you’d completed your novel, as I’ve been away from the blogosphere for most of this year. Well done - that is brilliant news and I’m looking forward to reading it when it’s published.

  5. On February 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm Janet Barclay responded with... #

    I think it’s very common to read a book or sit through a workshop and feel like “I already know this stuff” or “this doesn’t really apply to me” but if you get even one of those “aha moments” it was time well spent!

    Janet Barclays last blog post..Twitter Basics: Who Should I Follow on Twitter?

  6. On February 25, 2009 at 1:02 pm Joely Black (@TheCharmQuark on Twitter) responded with... #

    I think, simply put, it is about giving ourselves permission to be successful.

    Thank you Alex, as always.

    Joely Black (@TheCharmQuark on Twitter)s last blog post..The art of not doing

  7. On February 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm Terry Heath responded with... #

    I’m learning to appreciate the side of me who rushes off into 20 directions at the same time, instead of beating myself up over it. I just ordered “The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One” by Margaret Lobenstine. I’ll have to let you know how that turns out, it should apply.

    The only trick with juggling is knowing how!

    Terry Heaths last blog post..God. What Could I Actually Call This Post?

  8. On February 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Hi Alex, Marvelous post. Congratulations on getting past your roadblocks to success! You are an inspiration, and a wonderfully soft spoken one at that! Monica’s comment sums up my attitude - if I can make a little progress every day, I know in the end I’ll get there.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Exciting New Resource for Chicago Entrepreneurs

  9. On February 25, 2009 at 3:27 pm Terry Heath responded with... #

    By the way, I think a little tenacity comes naturally as we age. We’re still attracted by the occasional bright shiny object, but we’re too tired to chase after it.

    Also by the way, congratulations on finishing the manuscript! Best wishes during your agent/publisher hunt!

    Terry Heaths last blog post..Three Ways to Make Your Inner Critic Neurotic

  10. On February 25, 2009 at 3:53 pm Debbie Yost responded with... #

    This sounds so much like me. I have so many ideas and start so many projects and never finish any of them! I am trying to do a better job and be more consistent. I’m also trying to go back to some things that I have let fall by the wayside. I think I’ve lost my way on some things in the past year, but for a change, I don’t want to just forget them. Thanks for the great tips!

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Special Exposure Wednesday - Dress Up

  11. On February 25, 2009 at 8:09 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Alex Thanks so much for the guest post Alex - I’ve really enjoyed learning from and with you about sticking with it this month

    Ching good luck in pursuing those dreams :-)

    Monica slow progress is tough isn’t it - requires a lot of determination and self-belief that you’re going in the right direction… (I know!)

    Cath you sound like me - I resist commands too, including those I give myself!

    Janet indeed - any one of those tiny ‘aha’ moments, because those are the ones that’ll stick

    Joely simply put yes… but darned hard to do!

    Terry I was reading an article yesterday about Leonarda da Vinci and procrastination - saying he was constantly distracted by new pursuits and left loads of things half done… which hardly undermined his brilliance. I’ll be interested to hear how you get on with the book

    Brad what lovely feedback you left Alex. Thank you. You also made me realise how many of my friends are softly spoken inspirers. Your good self included

    Debbie glad you enjoyed the post. I think we’re constantly learning about what works and what doesn’t… there’s no perfect solution, just what works for us.

  12. On February 25, 2009 at 8:59 pm Gennaro responded with... #

    Congratulations on getting over that hurdle, Alex. It’s interesting to discover the different obstacles people face in relation to tenacity. For me, it’s being interesting in too many avenues at one time. My interests vary and it’s important to focus on one particular interest when it’s “crunch” time. The method used to combat it is to set a deadline for completion in my iCal. Even if there isn’t a real deadline. That keeps me on the ball.

    Gennaros last blog post..Take A Hike! Into The Wilderness

  13. On February 25, 2009 at 10:04 pm David Atkinson responded with... #

    what an awesome and inspiring post. Thanks for reminding me that I have the permission to be consistent.

    David Atkinsons last blog post..If You Ask Me…

  14. On February 26, 2009 at 1:33 am Karen Swim responded with... #

    Alex, thanks for allowing us a peek into the laboratory. I have heard so much about that book but what you’ve shared here makes me truly want to read it. I love the insight it unlocked for you and it definitely inspires me to shift my paradigm. Thanks!

    Karen Swims last blog post..Little Lesons from a Big Speech

  15. On February 26, 2009 at 1:53 am Urban Panther responded with... #

    So, I wonder if you could explain this whole Special Permission thing to the Urbane Lion? Specifially “Urbane Lion, you have Special Permission to finish the kitchen renovations.”

    Great post, bro, and thanks for the link love!

  16. On February 26, 2009 at 7:10 am Tumblemoose responded with... #

    It’s amazing how sometimes it takes that one single thing to get us going on our path. You never know what it may be so pay attention and listen to your heart.

    Glad to hear you are on your way. Enjoy the journey.


  17. On February 26, 2009 at 11:33 am Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome responded with... #

    @Ching Ya
    It’s hard when we don’t get the encouragement and support. I’m very fortunate that my partner supports my dreams despite the lack of income at the moment. Good luck! The online community also provides great support, I’ve found.

    Great article on Better’s Better. And yes, while my impatience often tells me that one sucks, I remind myself that it’s much better than zero. Good luck with your own slow steady progress!

    I’m horribly resentful of authoritarian stances, including my own, so I need to encourage and allow rather than demand and order. The novel is one I wrote in 2006-2007 and finished editing last summer. The current one (actually two now) are moving very slowly (one purposefully slowly, the other kind of stalled - but I’m working on speeding it up).

    Yes, it’s always that one good nugget of information that makes it all worthwhile.

    Shhhh! Don’t say that out loud or my fears might hear you and come slinking out from under the bed! ;)

    What a great sounding book. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

    Aw, you make me blush! I like to think of myself as a gentle butt-kicker. ;)

    @Terry (again)
    Yes, age does definitely play a part in it. We (hopefully) have learned the wisdom in patience, eh?

    I find tracking my daily actions really helps with that sense of consistency - which is why I love the Get Clients Now book so much because it lays out a simple tracking system too.

    I resist self-imposed deadlines - I think it comes from my “you can’t make me” inner teenager. Why won’t he go away?!? ;)

    Glad to be of service!

    Thanks! I figured if I was suffering from this problems, others had to be too, so was eager to share what I’d learned.

    You have a decluttered basement and a junk room turned into a media room. Bit by bit… I think the UL’s special permission might be: I can view each piece of a large project as a new project to get excited about. No?

    Listen to your heart… Isn’t that Roxette song?

    But yes, it is amazing how one little thing can get us moving.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Everybody wants to be a (Lab) Rat

  18. On February 26, 2009 at 2:52 pm Wiliam Waites responded with... #

    Off topic - but curious. What’s with these free lance offers that amount to $1 for 300 words? Don’t these crap buyers know that all theywill get at those rates is crap.? What’s the point? I’m asking you, Joanna, because you have been kind enough to respond to other questions/comments.

    Wiliam Waitess last blog post..Selling Tribal Art has its emotional rewards.

  19. On February 26, 2009 at 3:58 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Gennaro that’s one of the conclusions I’ve drawn too this month - it’s good to share what we’re stuck on, and the solutions we find, but everyone has got different ways of creating the roadblocks!

    David thanks as always for your feedback and support

    Karen I have to say thanks to you for introducing me to Alex! I’ve learned so much from him recently

    Urban Panther nice to meet another member of the clan ;-)

    George pay attention and listen to your heart… so true

    Alex thanks for the time you took to respond to everyone - much appreciated. I’ve been thinking about my own special permission and it might well be the permission to be inconsistent. I sometimes think that really is the way I work best… and will be most successful in the long run

  20. On February 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    William, I don’t dabble in those freelance waters I’m afraid… or rather, I’m glad to say. My answer would though be that there’s a market for everything. Those buying it must believe that they are getting something that meets their needs - even if it’s of little or no ‘value’. A more interesting question might be around those who are willing to sell at that price. But both sides are making a decision, conscious or otherwise… and could chose differently if they wanted to

  21. On February 27, 2009 at 4:27 am Carla responded with... #

    Its interesting that I found this post this evening because I thought about how I feel like I’m sabotaging myself through fear today. Every time something positive happens (especially in business) this nagging fear taps me on my shoulder and it suddenly takes over and drags me back into my comfort zone. Can I allow myself to have want I want?

    Carlas last blog post..Eco Fashion: What is it?

  22. On February 27, 2009 at 6:07 am Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome responded with... #

    I love how every prospers from different things and that they can be totally opposite!

    I totally understand you on this pattern. I have this silly tendency to run away the moment something looks like it’s going to be successful - because I suddenly fear all the work that’s going to be involved. I’m learning to use the fear to motivate me forward instead. Good luck!

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Everybody wants to be a (Lab) Rat

  23. On February 27, 2009 at 6:47 am wilson responded with... #

    A very talented and well written article, Alex. Same with you, I’m used to be a procrastinator, where I loved to do all the works in last minutes in the past! However, I learned the lesson after an incident, and I always jotted down all my works in the time schedule.

    Thanks for letting Alex being the guest writer, Joanna. :)

    wilsons last blog post..Maintain Your Cholesterol in Healthy Level!

  24. On February 27, 2009 at 9:02 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Carla sure you can! But maybe you need to tease out which bits you’re afraid of - exposure, success, criticism, hard work, end of the challenge - so you can look it in the face and walk past it…

    Wilson thanks - I’m glad you enjoyed it

  25. On February 27, 2009 at 11:09 pm Kelly responded with... #


    I just did a happy dance that one of my favorite go-get’em books is helping you out—I’d say about any book, if there are two pages that change your life that was already worth it. Hope the other pages work pretty well, too. :)

    I fight against the same inner-rebel problem as you described, all the time.

    I know all about it, so it doesn’t get the better of me for long, but I’m amazed that after telling it that it won’t win for 20 years it’s still always lurking—this huge desire to rebel against ME. What’s up with that? *sigh*


    So nice to see my favorite procrastination-kicker smiling out of your pages!



    Kellys last blog post..Tip of the Week: Don’t Push on a Rope

  26. On February 28, 2009 at 9:21 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Kelly, thanks for stopping by - it’s been great having that procrastination kicker hosting a conversation here this week!

  27. On March 2, 2009 at 7:57 am Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome responded with... #

    I tend to work in short time-spans, so I need to start everything well in advance, although this month I’m trying an experiment and giving myself permission to work in longer blocks of time. I’ll see how it goes.

    I recommend the book everywhere I go these days. My mother describes me as asserting my independence since I came out of the womb, so I think I was born a rebellious teen - it’s in my genes! ;)

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Do you double-standard yourself to death?



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