If you want to write a cookbook, I guarantee that obstacles will appear the minute you state your intention. Obstacles block your path and hinder your progress. Sometimes, you’ll hear an obstacle called a barrier, stumbling block, hurdle, or snag. No matter what it’s called, it can stop you dead in your tracks. Sometimes you jump over obstacles. Sometimes they make you retreat and give up on your project. The sad thing is that most of the time, even when we give up, we had the opportunity to overcome the obstacles – but we chose the easier path. Let’s take a look at what obstacles are, which obstacles we can control, and some tips on how to overcome obstacles when they appear.
Obstacles can be material or non-material, real or imagined. For example, a blood clot, concrete barrier, or wall are real obstacles. We can physically touch or see them. They block the flow of blood, traffic, and people. It’s possible to physically remove these obstacles and allow the flow of blood, traffic, or people to continue again. With a cookbook writing project, though, barriers are frequently non-material or imagined barriers. We can’t see or touch them. But, they still block our path to our goal.
In my time as a cookbook coach, I’ve heard clients describe their obstacles to writing a cookbook. I’m too busy. I don’t work fast enough. I’m not creative. I’m too old. I can’t think of what to write. I work during the day. I have kids. I travel too much. I’m confused. I’m overwhelmed. The economy is bad. People might not like my book. It’s summer, and I want to go to the pool. I can’t define my cookbook concept. Any number of barriers have come up. Some of my clients gave up because of the obstacles.
The good news is that we can control many of these obstacles. Our emotions, judgments, attitudes, perspectives, desires, decisions, determination, and thoughts are ALL within our control. We can alter the effect these obstacles have on our projects if we learn how to go around them and move our book projects forward.
Then, there are obstacles we can’t control: the economy, life circumstances, other people’s behavior and judgments, or disasters. But, even if these out-of-our-control obstacles have a real effect on the world, we do have control over how we think about them. We don’t have to let our thoughts about the economy, other people, or disasters define what we do.We can decide to proceed in spite of these obstacles. Even though we can’t control them, we can control ourselves.
Why focus on obstacles at all? Because the obstacles will appear. They always do. Obstacles are almost inevitable when you embark on any new project, especially a project that requires effort and possible rejection. When an obstacle presents itself, this is your chance to either overcome it or let the obstacle stop you. You can either embrace the opportunity or retreat and turn back without your cookbook. In order to overcome obstacles here a few strategies that may help:
Shift your perception. Change the way you look at things. The old saying is that “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Acknowledge that the presence of an obstacle doesn’t mean it’s an end to your dream to write a book. It just means an end to your old way of thinking. Start to think differently. Challenge yourself to see something in a different way. Seeing an obstacle as something to overcome and not stop me was the first perception I had to change. And in 2017, my perception of what I can accomplish has shifted a great deal. I’m challenging myself to a lot of new projects, new opportunities, and new ways of looking at things. And all of the results happen because of a change in the way I look at things.
Direct your actions. Specific and deliberate action will help to get you over almost any obstacle that comes your way. It might be an action like deliberately changing the way you think (as described above) or deliberately changing a routine, but either way deliberate actions will get you closer to the results you want. I am trying to be more deliberate about writing content for my blog, and testing recipes for my new cookbooks. Progress is visible and a series of directed actions have helped a great deal.
Manage your energy. Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your sleep, nutrition, hydration, and exercise to keep your energy level at it’s best. When you live with higher levels of energy, it’s easier to overcome obstacles than when you live with low energy. I always feel pretty energetic. I go to bed at a reasonable time, try to eat less refined carbohydrates (which make me sleepy), and drink a lot of water. A stroll through the neighborhood several times a week helps me feel better and sleep better too.
Focus on what you can control. Maintain belief that most obstacles are within your control and that with effort (and directed actions) you can overcome them. Define the obstacles in you life and determine the ones you can control. With writing a book the thoughts someone else might think about me, or my work, could stop me from proceeding. I definitely can’t control someone’s else’s thoughts or judgements, so I choose to not even let them get in the way.
Maintain inner drive and affirm your goal. Remind yourself on a regular basis your vision for your cookbook project. Imagine what it will feel like to finish your book. Remind yourself of the reasons why you want to pursue the goal. These reminders will help you keep your inner drive alive even when the obstacles seem insurmountable. I read a list of reminders, or some call them affirmations, every morning. These affirmations have to do with my vision for my self, my books, my family, and business. It’s like an athlete imagining their best performance. Then when the day of the event comes, their winning image comes to mind and their performance follows suit.
Commit to the goal. Commitment is the foundation of overcoming obstacles. With strong desire and a deliberate choice to stick to what you set out to do, then all other options fade away. Commitment narrows the path but provides the freedom as you work within the boundaries that are often needed to get something finished. Obstacles become stepping stones instead of blocking the path. I have a several hard and fast commitments, but commitment to my word and commitment to myself ranks right up there as ways I can overcome obstacles.
Everyone experience obstacles when they set out to do something new. Obstacles are present with any goal. Life’s too short to let something that’s inevitable, like an obstacle, separate us from our dream. When we set out to write a cookbook or start a new project, it’s not uncommon to feel certain emotions to appear that could stop us from doing what we set out to do. We have a choice at that point. We can quit and let the obstacles defeat us. Or, we can use our mind, our will, and our actions to overcome the obstacles. That’s when it’s time to tap into deliberate strategies to push us forward to success with our goals, including our cookbook writing endeavors.
Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”