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Problem or Solution: Where is Your Focus?

Key to SuccessI’m a big fan of Brian Tracy. For those of you not familiar with him he is a motivational speaker and a successful businessman. I was introduced to his teaching several years ago by my husband. My husband, at one point in his career, was involved in sales and Brian Tracy was an integral part in his success.

More than just sales, however, Brian Tracy is helpful when it comes to personal development. Back when I first started my online writing journey I had very little confidence and was somewhat overwhelmed with all the possibilities. It’s easy to doubt yourself and give up in the beginning. Brian Tracy’s teachings helped me to fake the courage when it wasn’t there.  By doing so, I didn’t give up on learning how to make money doing something I loved to do.

Psychology of Achievement

I’ve been through a lot of Brian Tracy’s books and just a few days ago checked out the Psychology of Achievement audio book from the library. It’s a short 2-CD book but it’s jam packed with personal development tools and goal setting techniques.Psychology of Achievement CD

Every time I read a Brian Tracy book there are sayings and concepts that stick with me. This particular go ‘round, one of the concepts was positive versus negative thought patterns. He then explained that positive people focus on solutions while negative people dwell on the problems. Which one are you?

Panda, eHow and Tanked Earnings

As I was listening to his book I realized that I unknowingly implemented some of his goal setting and personal development tools. In this book he talks about problem solving and gives an outline of steps to take for not only solving problems but doing so quickly and efficiently.

He suggests that once a problem arises take the following steps:

  1. Approach problems logically (versus emotionally)
  2. Change your speech patterns or your language from negative to positive (challenge vs. problem)
  3. Clearly define the situation or challenge
  4. Identify the possible causes
  5. Identify the possible solutions
  6. Make a decision
  7. Assign responsibility for implementing the solutions, and finally
  8. Set a deadline

In retrospect as I read his book I realize those are exactly the steps that I took right after Google’s Panda algorithm change and the eHow article buyout. Check it out:

Step 1: When I looked at the situation initially I had two options; I could cry woe is me and flitter from forum to forum and blog to blog posting complaints about how unfair the whole situation was and how hard my income was affected by the changes. Or, I could get about the business of regaining my prior level of income.

Step 2: I looked at the situation as a challenge and a character-building obstacle. If I looked at it in any other way, I would’ve fallen into the negativity trap of self-pity. A challenge however is something that we all can rise to.

Step 3: I had to clearly define the challenge. In this case the challenge was that my major source of income was no longer available and my secondary source took a major hit. The result was a 52% drop in income. My challenge was how to replace that 52% drop in income as quickly as possible.

Step 4: This was a no brainer. The causes for the income drop were algorithm and business model changes that were out of my control.

Step 5 (a long step): When it came to identifying the possible solutions my list was long. I sat down and thought of just about anything and everything I could do as an online freelance writer to regain my prior income level. This took about a day of brainstorming to figure out what I was going to do next.Success or Failure

I could have continued doing what I had done in the past. That meant I would have to work harder by increasing my content on existing sites in an attempt to regain my prior glory. The problem with that was there were too many factors out of my control. I have a lot of articles on Suite 101, but Suite had fallen out of Google favor. HubPages and all the rest of the content sites have fallen out of favor too so in my opinion it didn’t make sense for me to continue spinning my wheels on such sites knowing that it was a tenuous uphill climb. I had to find other more enjoyable solutions.

Because of my brainstorming session, I came up with several solutions to my challenge. I have yet to implement all of them because I’m taking them one at a time. What I like about the brainstorming session is that it opened up my mind to a host of options. Once I complete option #1, I’ll go onto option #2 and then #3 and so on.

I think brainstorming is something that we as freelance writers should do periodically so that we don’t continue to limit ourselves to the obvious solutions only. Get creative. There are options that are less visible but take a bit of creativity to unearth.

Step 6: I made the decision to implement the option that I thought would bring in the most income in the shortest period of time. I made that decision within 24-hours of my brainstorming session (in the first 24 hours after Panda/eHow I went back to Demand Studios, but realized that was a huge mistake).

Step 7: Assigning the implementation responsibility was easy because when I looked around the room there was only person with her hand up so I chose Felicia to implement the plan. Actually, she was the only person in the room that didn’t have paws so assigning tasks was a no brainer. Before implementing the solutions, however, I had to write out the game plan.

Step 8: Setting the deadline was also easy. I knew that I had to get back to my prior income level within six months. That was the goal I set and that’s the goal I am working towards. I’m in month five and am very close to being where I was before this whole thing happened. Why? Because I chose to look at the solution instead of the problem.

I had to chuckle when Brian Tracy then said (after listing the 8 steps), that by implementing the steps you can achieve more in one day than the average person can achieve in a week. In my case it was 6 months instead of 12 or 18.

More than Just Writing

Shape Your FutureSince reading Psychology of Achievement (I’ve listened to it over and over since I first checked it out of the library), I realize that his methods can help me in other areas of my life. To that end, I’ve taken new directions on a couple of challenges in my life.

If it works for me, I know it can work for you. Sometimes when you run into situations where things aren’t turning out the way you want them, take time to evaluate, brainstorm and plan. It’s amazing how such simple steps can help you to shape your future.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • kidgas August 11, 2011, 2:51 pm

    Another great post and very useful. I haven’t heard of Brian Tracy, but use the steps that he outlines fairly naturally. I do need some work on number 2 at times, however. Nevertheless, I am pleased to say that I am making progress with the task that I undertook at the end of May building my own blog.

  • Joni August 11, 2011, 6:19 pm

    Thanks again Felicia. I will be heading to the library in the next few days. I have been planning to go anyway so I will add the books of Brian Tracy to my list. As a writer, I have not done near as much reading as I should, especially lately.

    I thought about something as I read your post. You said you are mainly writing for your own sights. So, are you tweaking your articles and placing them on sites such as Hub Pages and others for residual income? I would think, why not but I could be missing something. In your opinion (up-to-date opinion), which sites would you recommend?

    It is very difficult to work when my chronic illnesses act up (it affects my concentration) but I am trying to be positive. I know one of the most positive things to do every day is come on this site. I can tell when I miss a day. Even if you do not have a new post, I have started to study your site and read many of the posts in the archives. This helps a lot.

    God Bless,

    • Felicia August 12, 2011, 7:22 am

      Joni, I’m adding new content to my sites. I’m not actively writing for any of the content sites at this point in time so it’s hard for me to recommend a good one. Panda has changed things in the content mill market.

      I’m glad that NJFM is able to offer a positive tidbit here and there to help you on your online writing journey. I’ve got to say, my readers and their comments help me with my journey.

  • Michael August 11, 2011, 7:37 pm

    A positive outlook is one of those things that seems so easy but can be difficult to maintain. I like how you outlined the techniques given in the book and matched them to your reaction to a personal challenge (writing post Panda). Looks like your positive attitude paid off. Nice article.

  • Deepika August 12, 2011, 3:22 am

    Hi Felicia,

    Thanks for sharing your valuable experience as well as about Mr Brian Tracy, Post fallout, giving up and complaining are the most easiest things to do.

    Your story has only inspired me, and I’m trying to look at the glass as “half full”.. Surely there is still a long long way to go but than that’s the real beauty of Life, It would be salt-less without challenges 🙂

    Thanks for your continued words of encouragement, they do make a difference.


  • Alina Bradford August 12, 2011, 12:44 pm

    This is good advice. It is important to stay positive in any situation. It gives you a clear head so that you can solve the problems placed in front of you.

  • Terr August 12, 2011, 1:02 pm

    Hey Felicia!

    I was taking a little decompression break, and read this much needed post. First, thanks for the author recommendation.

    Second, although I’m familiar with the model that he uses, I needed to read/hear it again. I was depressed about a lot of things. When I read the guideline, I realized that not only does this apply to me professionally, but it most certainly applies personally.

    I’m going through a time of major personal transformation, and professional transition. I literally have journalling notebooks and self-help books, along with professional email subscription blast that I get daily, and a huge Amazon file of professional books I want/need to order! Yes, I have my sleeves rolled up, but BOY am I overwhelmed.

    I recently went through an earth-shattering situation that made me almost lose everything and therefore, I’m questioning everything. I’m finding that even on my planned down time (which is very rare), I will have to use that time as a personal work day to goal set, brainstorm, and assign goals to my plans. But this post is very simple, and I will use the outline this weekend during my personal goal setting time.

    So, thank you so much. BTW, it might be on here, but would you mind posting an email addy, so that I can reach out to you more personally? Thanks.

  • Tashana September 8, 2011, 9:58 am

    Hi Felicia,

    Great post. I hadn’t heard of Brian Tracey either, but I’ll be heading over to the library today to check him out.

    You are so right. And to add to your post, spending all your time concentrating on the problem is mentally exhausting. Case in point, I decided to apply, yet again, to Suite 101, and yet again, they denied me. I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I would love some feedback on the post I have listed, which is the one I submitted as my work sample.

    And, even though they’ve denied me three times now – I refuse to give up. I’m going to do exactly what you said, brainstorm, and work on the things that are going to bring forth positive results. Instead of just focusing on the fact that I keep getting denied. I can’t accept failure.

    Thanks again for your post. As always – it’s premo!

    • Felicia September 9, 2011, 7:17 am

      Tashana, your article is written better than many of the articles I’ve seen on Suite. I’m not sure why they didn’t accept you. It’s obvious that you know how to write.

      Maybe next time when applying for Suite, use an article that has hard core facts. This article was written with the intent to get the reader to ask herself important questions about online education. It didn’t provide hard core facts, figures or information although you do provide a link to the Department of Education.

      I’ve found that many readers like to be told what to do or want an article that leads them to additional information. They like leaving the article saying, “Wow, I never thought of that.” Or, “That’s good to know.” I kind of think of it as the goodie bag factor. Every child knows at the end of a party he’s going to get a goodie bag. They walk away from the party with something in hand.

      You want your Suite sample article to do the same thing. I wrote on this subject about a year ago (wow, it was a year ago almost to the date). Anyway, check out this old post.

      I hope it helps.

      • Crystal Watts September 12, 2011, 1:08 pm

        Hi Tashana,

        I ran into that problem initially when I first applied to Suite 101. As soon as I revamped my article to information like those Felicia recommended for you to consider, I too was accepted on my second try.

        I believe that is the type of information they are looking for – Quality Information with links to reliable sources, references, etc. (No Opinion-based sources or Links to sites like Wikipedia). They want Information any user could verify or confirm for themselves.

        Best Wishes!!!!!

  • Tashana September 9, 2011, 7:48 am

    Thank you Felicia. I’m etching this information into my writing psyche. More professionals should explain things so simply :-).

    As always much appreciated.


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