ROW80 Update and The Buddy System

Hi everyone! Time for another ROW80 update, what a fantastic and busy week. Back on the 17th many of you expressed an interest in the Buddy System that Kerry Meacham and I mentioned, so I’ve included a guest post I did recently on this subject following my normal update. I hope you enjoy it.

Goal Update:

  • The WIP, Virtual Perihelion, expanded by 3968 words this week, well over my goal. I’ve spent my time expanding on key points of my story worlds design and the backgrounds of my key players. Starting over the next week, I’ll be narrowing this down to two fine points: 1) The key structure of the plot (applying the lessons I’ve learned from Story Engineering, Plot & Structure, Save the Cat and a few other resources); 2) Character Bio’s to flesh out my protagonist, allies and antagonist “death squad” (insert maniacal laughter here if you wish).
  • I had a 26 day streak going on 750words.com and missed yesterday due to life. Sigh. So to make sure I don’t miss again, I’ve signed up for the August challenge on that site, 30 days straight or I go to the Wall of Shame. I WILL NOT go on that wall. Wish me luck.
  • Overtime at the day job killed my reading time over the past week but I did manage to get to page 34 in Character, Emotion and Viewpoint (Nancy Kress). I’m loving this book and picking up a host of great character development information. I have a couple of hours blocked out today that should put me close to the midpoint of the book.
  • I have 3 expansion posts queued now and 3 more in process, so I’m back on track here. Thanks, Kerry.
  • The treadmill went well this week. I’m controlling the walks myself and making sure I get a good sweat in every time. My middle age man gut is receding at a healthy pace and I haven’t felt this good in years. Yay for exercise!

That’s all for the official update. If you have a few minutes and are interested in some of the potential in the Buddy System, I’d encourage you to stick around and read the below post. Either way, have a great day and I hope your weeks are great ones!

The Power of the Buddy System

Sharing our goals is one key element to achieving them. When we set private goals it is easy to justify letting them slip away due to a host of reasons. Children, work, spouses, car issues, yard work, house tasks and the general chaos of daily life can intrude and steal our dreams from us. This is why sharing our goals publicly and making ourselves accountable to a trusted friend are such powerful tools in protecting our desired direction in life.

My good friend, Kerry Meacham and I are ROWbro’s, a.k.a. Accountability Partners. Our partnership has proven to be mutually beneficial. Here are three key areas where the Buddy System guards us.

1) The Buddy System Guards Us from Impulsive Goals.

We can fail at our goals in many ways. One of the greatest though is through not planning and considering our goals before we set them. Impulsiveness can kill our chances of success.

When I first decided to take the ROW80 challenge, twenty great ideas fired through my mind all vying for attention. Obviously, I couldn’t indulge all of them, after all one does have to sleep and live life. After toning down the mass to what I thought were eight reasonable goals, I sent them to Kerry to gain his advice and he did the same with his goals.

Kerry is a master goal setter and he challenged most of my initial goals. This helped me to refine some, drop others that didn’t need to be stated (as they were things I was already doing) and made me consider the merits and boundaries of each goal realistically.

The second time I stated the goals they were no longer impulsive. They were thought out in detail, considering all the things on my plate and so far I’ve been able to achieve each weekly goal as a result, with one exception that I’ll get to in a later point.

Our best intentions can sometimes have bad results but by working with a buddy we provide a check to impulsive motivations and drives.

2) The Buddy System Motivates Us Through the Rough Spots.

No matter how well designed our goals are or how motivated we may be to achieve them there will always be hard days, hard weeks and moments of frustration. When these moments come along, nothing motivates us more than knowing that we have a friend out there who is cheering for us and struggling along the same path.

One of my goals was to get into better shape. My wife and I bought a treadmill a couple of years ago, she is dedicated to using it, while I’ve found a myriad of reasons why I don’t have time. Weight gain and a decline in energy made me decide I needed to find the time, but still, it was the easiest thing in my daily schedule to give up. How to keep myself motivated became a major question.

By stating my goal to both my wife (the ultimate buddy) and my partner, Kerry, I was now accountable to two people that I respect and didn’t want to disappoint. Over the last three weeks I’ve actively planned and guarded my walking times because of this. The results: I have more energy throughout my days, better concentration and I’m watching my weight shrink, one walk at a time.

If you know you have an area where you have never been able to maintain motivation, nothing helps more then having a couple of people to be accountable to.

3) When Failure Seems Likely Our Buddies Offer an Objective View.

It is often difficult to be objective about the things we want and desire when failure seems imminent. The best protection against the lack of objectivity that comes with frustration and distress is a friend who cares and has the benefit of a neutral view.

I mentioned earlier that one of the goals I had set gave me difficulty. So much so, that after the first two weeks I was ready to drop it. The goal was to have fifteen blog posts ready in queue. Five for my regular series and ten for a planned posting expansion. Doing this would allow me some breathing room for those weeks when I needed to be concentrated on my work-in-progress or when life decided to spin a storm of chaos into my schedule. The goal was ambitious but manageable, except that I also had placed a qualifier on it as to when I wanted each of the types done. This turned out to be the difficulty.

Stressed and sure I was about to fail at my goal, I wrote Kerry and explained the situation. I listed the reasons why I felt I should abandon the goal. Sure, I didn’t want to. I hate to give up on anything that has a benefit and having those posts sitting there ready to go, weeks in advance, would definitely be beneficial in the long run.

Kerry is a cool guy. He didn’t buy into my justifications, instead he challenged them and me. In the end, he showed me by his response that what I needed was a change, not a failure. I took his advice and adjusted my goal accordingly. Once again I was moving forward, thanks to the neutral objectivity of my buddy.

I would encourage all ROW80 members to find a buddy, a partner, a friend in the group, at home, or wherever you choose. Having an accountability partner is mutually beneficial to both and a surefire way to press through to our goals and improve our lives.

Peaceful Journeys!

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About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. β€œOnly the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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34 Responses to ROW80 Update and The Buddy System

  1. kerrymeacham says:

    Way to keep it going ROWbro. You’re doing a great job.

    You’ve gIven as much as you’ve received Gene. Thanks for all of your help since we started ROW80, and ROCK ON.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Thanks, Kerry. Great having you as a ROWbro!

      For others reading this: Honesty and “mutually beneficial” are the two main keys to a good partnership. Peace.

  2. Gene ~ Sorry to hear that you broke your streak. (Really, I’ve got to check out this 750words) Good luck on the new goal, and stay off that wall! The Notariani household has a ‘wall of shame’ (for bold boys…) and believe me, my younger boys definately do not want to be ordered to stand there. Funny how naming the spot such an awful thing increases our desire to avoid it – I mean it’s still the same livingroom wall – but my boys avoid it like the plague….(well, usually. Sometimes boldness takes over – and then, it’s reminder time).

    You have done well with your goals. My reading time is the first area to suffer when my writing work consumes me. I’ve some great new books this week, and I’ll have to indulge in one night of ‘free-reading’.

    Your post on ‘The Buddy System’ is sound advice. It works, too. You’ve articulated the point well.

    Have a great, new week ~ Nadja

    • Gene Lempp says:

      The Wall of Shame is a great idea, while sure, its just a wall, and there may be hundreds of names on it, we are all sure that OUR NAME will be the one everyone sees. Great use of psychology. If it keeps us motivated past the hard points then absolutely worth it.

      Reading is the hardest thing to fit in. I like the feel of an actual book in my hand and while I have Kindle PC I’ve not picked up the “travel version”. Sadly, I think I’ll have to break down soon and do so just so I can grab reading in the spare moments between other things (one of those little tips I picked up from reading Kait Nolan’s posts).

      Have a great week and thanks for the compliment!

  3. Pingback: ROW80 – Sunday Check-In « Kerry Meacham's Blog

  4. yikici says:

    All in all it seems you have had a rather good week -well done! From your progress I am certain that that wall won’t find you and you come across as very determined so I certainly wish you the best of luck. πŸ™‚

    The buddy system is interesting -a good way to stay focused and motivated.

  5. Em says:

    The Wall of Shame made me smile! Anything that keeps you motivated is a good thing!

    Hope week 5 (how is it week 5 already?!) goes well for you.

  6. Stacy Green says:

    You’re still doing a great job, Gene. Life gets in the way sometimes, but you’re bouncing back so that’s all that matters.

    The Buddy System is a great idea. Having someone to hold you accountable makes all the difference. I know that was a big part of my weight loss. I had a dietician to check in with every week, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. I wanted her praise and encouragement, so I stuck with it.

  7. wosushi says:

    You are doing great! So sweet of you to be looking out for your fellow ROW80rs with this post as well.

  8. Jaleh says:

    I like your buddy system rules: clear, thought out, and reasonable. Buddies are fantastic for keeping us motivated. One of my friends is my go-to person when I’m frustrated with my writing. She keeps me from going bonkers and happily cheers on even my little successes despite how much further along she is with her writing.

    Congratulations on the treadmill work, as well as the writing goals. I need to get more exercise in myself. I realized last month I’ve gained a little bit around the hips since last summer and don’t want that. My mother in law and I are going to be exercise buddies this year since she has her own weight loss goals. More fun to work on them together.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Stacy: Life does have a way of taking whatever time it requires. The key is to never let it derail our efforts. I’m glad you were successful with your weight loss plan and that you had someone there to help keep you motivated πŸ™‚

      Amber: You’re welcome and thanks!

      Jaleh: It is definitely more fun and more productive to work together on things. Having this partnership with your mother in law is a fantastic thing and I’ll bet you both see good results from your effort. Nothing beats a good buddy and it seems you have several, which is excellent!
      Thanks for the compliment πŸ™‚

  9. Although I read your post on the Buddy System when it was posted, it was nice to read it again here. I think it is a great idea; I just need to find a willing victiim, oh, I mean, participant!

    As for falling off the wagon, hey, don’t be so hard on yourself! A 28-day streak is amazing. My reading has also fallen off in the last week or so–and it is so helpful, I need to plug it back in.

    You’re going great guns, and your encouragement on my and others’ blogs is very helpful.
    Thank you, and have a great week!

  10. EllieAnn says:

    Great word count, and good luck this week with your goals! Woohoo! I’m rooting for you, and I don’t think those goals have a chance at beating you. πŸ™‚

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Nancy: The challenge is what drive me to succeed, not really being hard on myself because I enjoy doing 750words (and the other goals I’ve set). Thanks for the compliment and I hope you have a great week as well πŸ™‚

      Ellie: Love that positive attitude, Ellie. You are a traveling ray of sunshine πŸ™‚
      Thanks for all your support!

  11. Great post! And way to go on your goals. You’re moving right along!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Lauralynn & Katy: Thanks, your support means a lot πŸ™‚

      Marcia: Oh do I understand that! There are moments when all of this seems like a tremendous mountain to climb (yet another reason I feel so blessed to have a buddy for the climb). No goal should ever be set in stone, life happens, so should adjustments. We can’t always know what is coming for us or how things will work out, which is why it is so important to remain flexible rather then giving in to frustration. Stay strong in yourself πŸ™‚

  12. Katy Bennett says:

    Sounds like you’re right on track and have a great buddy there. Best of luck with all your goals.

  13. Marcia says:

    Gene, you’re doing so well! Congrats. I admire your determination. While I like to think I similarly motivated and persevering, I get tired and end up letting everything go. I’m not sticking to my exercise or my word count. Truth is, I took on more than I could reasonably handle in the month of July(grandkids, online class, Row80, revamping blog, etc). I’m cutting way back on obligaitons now and adjusting my goals to see if that makes a difference. Thanks for the motivation and I’m so happy you and Kerry are keeping each other on track!

  14. Ruth Nestvold says:

    Yup, the buddy system is why I’m addicted to challenges like the Clarion West Write-a-Thon. Although unfortunately there wasn’t much buddying there this year. But I found ROW80 to take its place! *g*

    Don’t beat yourself up to much about missing a day. You’ve been making great progress.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      I’m glad to have found ROW80, it has made a major difference in keeping me focused on my long term goals.

      Now on a 1-day streak, woot!

      Thanks for the compliment πŸ™‚

  15. jamilajamison says:

    Aww, sorry to hear that you missed a day of writing, but it’s great to hear that you managed to keep up with it for so long. I’ve also signed up for the August challenge, and have been eyeing that Wall of Shame with trepidation. Nothing like a little public accountability to encourage one to stay on track!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Jamila: Things happen. Very true that “Nothing like a little public accountability to encourage one to stay on track!”. Best of luck with the August challenge πŸ™‚

      Arilaan: The buddy doesn’t have to be someone near you, mine lives hundreds of miles away and we’ve never met in person.

      Exercise is definitely the key, the increased energy and focus it brings will see you through some hard days. My wife and I are looking into weights already but I’m pretty happy with the treadmill at this point. Thanks for the comment and best wishes for ROW80!

  16. arilaan says:

    Wow, very inspiring post! I really love your points about the buddy system – I’m not sure who a good buddy would be for me, as in my school everyone is busy and lacks a spare moment, but just posting my goals online and my accomplishments as I’ve made them has motivated me to keep going.
    One of my friends told me ‘Exercise is key’ and I’ve found that it really has been for me, so I’m very glad to hear that you’re also benefiting from it! =D Perhaps trying different exercises like weights and floor exercises or swimming might spice it up if you’re bored =)
    And best of luck for ROW80 and 750words!!! (I just started the former and might check out the latter now!)

  17. Jenny Hansen says:

    Fantastic word count, Gene! I see the Life List Club as another method of accountability. I’ve already been back to the gym so it must be working. πŸ™‚

  18. I love what you and Kerry have done – KUDOS! The Buddy System is a great idea for all of us writers, especially participating in Row80. Keep up the good work, Gene!

  19. Pingback: Blog Treasures and ROW80 Party! « Gene Lempp's Blog

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  21. Hartford says:

    Congrats Gene on all your amazing success – you are doing ahhmazing.

    I loved your detailed analysis of the buddy system and why it works so well. It’s definitely something worth considering. Having the #ROW80 team is wonderful but I do agree that a more personal level of accountability would help a person take it to the next level.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Pingback: Yes I’m, Stuck in the Middle with You: By Kerry Meacham « A Round of Words in 80 Days

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