Pivoting to Social Media

I jumped to Chapter 11, Pivot to Social Media. Alyssa talks about how your social media profiles are your calling card to the world, and how knowing how to use social media tools is vital for employment, collaborations, and connections. She then goes over ways to present yourself positively, from variety in your profile pictures to posting as if you’re having a conversation rather than posting “at” someone. There’s a lot of great advice, especially for beginners like me.

I’m not nearly as social media savvy as most millennials or even Generation X. I can’t blame this on a generation thing. My husband handles most of our social media. Back in November after listening to the Intro chapter (which was a very powerful experience), I tweeted my very first tweet tagging a celebrity:

Ehrmahgaaaaah, Alyssa liked my Tweet!

Then I got bolder and a few weeks later, this happened:

IF HE CAN IGNORE THE TYPO, SO CAN YOU!

Ever the dutiful student, I poked around Twitter and found some incredibly enthusiastic DAYS fans to follow. It’s super-fun to see what is live-tweeted when an episode airs.

I also found a great community of fellow writers. We hold each other accountable to deadlines and promote each other’s accomplishments. I’ll be wasting a lot of time on twitter in the near future.

Instagram is less community-oriented so far, much more self-promoting. I’m probably using it wrong. Even so, I made a fantastic connection via Instagram a few weeks ago:

Billy Flynn just starred in a play in LA called Disposable Necessities. It’s the marriage of two of my favorite things: science fiction and live theater. There was no way I could get to LA to see it so I DM’d Rogue Machine Theater and asked if the playwright was selling the script (which they often do, especially in off-Broadway or regional theaters, to help raise money for the theater). A few hours later, Neil McGowan himself DM’d me and arranged for me to get a copy! I couldn’t believe it! The script is amazing. The play just closed and I’m so bummed I couldn’t see it! I hope it comes to NYC for a run.

Pre-Pivot, I wouldn’t have reached out to the theater in the first place. I’d have been too shy.

SUPPORT LIVE THEATER!

Pivoting from Excuses

Chapter 2 is incredibly personal.

Most DAYS fans know about Alyssa’s and Freddie’s car accident in October 2014. Freddie takes us through the accident and the aftermath, and Alyssa shares the mental and emotional steps she took to heal her whole self while in recovery.

I swear, these two. How they saved themselves and each other is truly awe inspiring. The car accident wasn’t their only tragedy, either. When they were down, life kicked them in the collective nuts a few more times. (I won’t get into detail here because seriously, you should listen to this chapter right now.) They faced all of it with the mutual decision to learn from the events and to not make excuses when life was sh*tty. They each could have crumbled under the weight of these incidents, but they showed up to life every day with a positive attitude. They pushed themselves and pulled each other along.

I now understand why these two millennials are wise beyond their years. I’m so grateful I found their audiobook. Who would have ever thought that indulging in a sudsy soap opera when I was so sad would lead to so much positive change in my life. I hope I can thank them someday.

At the end, they present questions to help you pivot from your most-used excuses. I was like, I don’t make excuses. I have real-life reasons why I don’t write or exercise, which you celebrities don’t understand! I don’t get up early to work out because I need to sleep. I have a demanding job. Sometimes I’m up too late the night before – it’s my only time to catch up on my binge shows, or I get sucked into social media. I could hit the gym after work, except I’m usually too tired, or we have plans. I don’t write in the mornings because that’s my time to work out. My brain is too fried at night to be creative.

Oh my god, do you see this? I’m not only full of excuses, they are LAME.

What do these excuses actually do for me? They must serve some purpose because I make them all the time.

I think excuses help me placate my ego. If I have an excuse for not trying, I’m not exactly failing because I plan to try. Excuses enable me to fantasize that I’ll succeed without putting in any of the work. I keep my hopes and dreams alive because of the illusion that I’m working on it.

Oh, man. I am my own worst enemy. I’ve got to break this self-sabotaging behavior.

“Don’t wait until tomorrow,” Freddie says. “Please don’t give us that excuse.”

Pivoting from Fear

January 16, 2020. It took me exactly two months to get back to The Pivot Principle.  I’d been on a serious roll just from the Intro and Chapter 10, and I was eager to see what else Freddie and Alyssa had to teach me. I dove right in to Chapter 1: Pivot from Fear.

There is a lot of valuable material in this chapter. You should listen for yourself. Here are the top things that spoke to me:

Freddie: I’ve been on 500 auditions. I was told “no“ for 485 of them. The other 15 made my career. That’s a 97% rejection rate. 97%!!

Freddie: Ask yourself, “Why do I care if someone rejects me?” I’ve never asked myself why I care about rejection, especially from strangers. In my late 20s, I quit my entire life to break into television and it was a disaster. I was rejected from loads of jobs, and when I finally got a job, I was told “no” every single day in one way or another. It was a demoralizing experience but it didn’t break me. It’s like I worked my rejection muscle really hard during that time, but now it’s soft as I’ve become comfortable.

Freddie: Rejection is inevitable so you may as well go for it. If you don’t try, you definitely fail. If I could withstand a 97% rejection rate like Freddie, then I go into it knowing that most strangers won’t like my writing. OMG! I get it: It’s not personalThat’s how Freddie lets the rejections roll off! That’s how he stays true to himself! MIND BLOWN.

Alyssa: To reach new heights, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’m more comfortable eating whatever I want and complaining about my weight than denying myself junk food. I’m more comfortable living a life where writing comes last than I am with doing whatever it takes to write every day. Change takes effort. I’m not making any effort. I’m very much into instant gratification. I’m not stuck. I’m…lazy. I’m very uncomfortable learning this about myself. Darn you, Alyssa.

Alyssa: There is no perfect moment. “Being ready” is an excuse. Seriously, how is she this wise at 30?

Alyssa: How are you going to put yourself out there and work on your fear and rejection muscles? I don’t know. What do unpublished writers do to put themselves out there? It’s got to be more than send query letters to agents. Looks like I just gave myself a research project.

And that is how ya PIVOT!

NBC, Saturday Night Live, 2016

The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.” Over and over it ran through my mind. My heart raced constantly. I couldn’t sleep. I was hot all the time. Food tasted awful. The power of Alyssa’s words took me over. I was like a frayed wire.

I lost 14 pounds in 12 days. My plus-sized body was Pivoting all on its own.

Well, I wasn’t going to avoid any more work. I wanted magic! I looked over the lists of goals I’d written and decided to tackle the new job goal first. This was the one goal I could wrap my brain around while my body freaked out.

I’d been job-hunting all year, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was unfocused, haphazard. I’d send my resume to companies that looked cool or posted a too-good-to-be-true job listing and never heard back.

I’m a dutiful student. I took Freddie’s advice to heart and wrote a detailed list of what I wanted.

Goal: New Job

  1. Must have a mission statement I can get behind. After years of working for law firms, I’d finally gotten my first in-house paralegal job with a non-profit news organization. What a change! I was so proud to work for a company whose mission is to inform the world, rather than to bill the client as much as possible. Wherever I went next, it had to be about more than making money. It had to be for a profit company that wanted to make a difference.
  2. Better salary. Non-profits do amazing work, but they usually don’t pay well. I loved where I worked, but I was severely underpaid. I live in NYC – I needed more money.
  3. Good fit with the new team. Personality mesh is an important part of the job process. Who you work with can make or break a place. I reminded myself that I’m interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing me. I’d know if we “clicked” and if we didn’t, I’d keep looking.

Once I was clear about what I wanted, I applied much more strategically than before. I researched the companies’ business filings. I checked sites like Glassdoor for employee POVs. Several applications and a few interviews later, this approach paid off. In December, I accepted an offer that hit every one of my requirements: A for-profit company whose focus is health. A salary that reflected my skills and experience. A team made me feel welcome and valued. I would start my new job at the beginning of 2020.

New job goal: check.

Holy sh#t. It worked.

What can I Pivot to next?

The Pivot Principle

November 16, 2019: I was two weeks into my new obsession with the Days of our Lives time jump story. It was soapy, sudsy awesomeness: Why is Sonny so sad? Why is Justin kissing Kayla? How did Adrienne die? Why is JJ on drugs? His girlfriend died?! WTF is Xander about? WHY IS WILL IN JAIL. WHY IS HE CELL MATES WITH THE GUY WHO MURDERED HIM A FEW YEARS AGO. Where’d that baby come from? What happened to the other baby? Kristen’s a nun? Why is Ciara a super sleuth? He’s the father of the alive baby and doesn’t know it, but she knows? Gabi is CEO!

It was such a blast because it was the perfect distraction from the sadness, and the rest of my life.

Generation X is well settled in to its midlife crisis, and so was I. My job depressed me. I was overweight and eating terribly. Worst of all, my writing was beyond stagnant. I fancy myself a scifi/fantasy writer (time travel’s my thing) and I hadn’t written much beyond a few short story drafts in a couple of years. Crappy job, crappy health, no creativity, and incredibly stuck. I wanted to change but I’d get paralyzed and overwhelmed and do nothing. So I threw myself into DAYS! Way more fun than throwing myself into me.

Back to November 16, 2019: As I wrote in my last entry, I was scouring the internet for DAYS spoilers. I found myself on Freddie and Alyssa’s YouTube page and stumbled on their audiobook The Pivot Principle. I clicked on “Chapter 10; Pivot Your Health.”

Both Alyssa and Freddie narrate the chapter but Freddie’s part got me. He talks about his issues with weight with a frankness and vulnerability that is brave and heartfelt. His quest for balance after following several “meal lifestyles” (I love this term) really got to me. He suggests writing out your goals and a detailed description of the outcome you want. Get specific about how to achieve them, and figure out your “why”.

I’d written out goals, but I’d never really thought about the details to achieve them. My goals are more like, “lose 30 lbs” or “exercise”, but I didn’t ever write down “log food every day” or “30 minutes of cardio 4 times a week.” I made a mental note to try it sometime soon, and moved on to “Introduction.”

There are a handful of times in my life when I’ve had an A-ha moment. When I recognize a truth that I feel in my heart and soul, this wave of tingles sweeps over my whole body. It’s how I know I’ve learned something important and I’m permanently changed. This happened to me when I heard Alyssa say at 2:42, “The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.”

The truth of her words literally changed me, right in that moment. My heart dropped. The tingles spread all over me. I had to catch my breath! How could someone so young be so wise? Alyssa and Freddie had an understanding of our world that eluded me.

I was ready to learn.

I grabbed my journal and started writing out my goals, and all the steps to achieve them.

Not just health/weight goals, but my career and my creative writing, too. It took several pages. I felt amazing when I finished. What else could I learn from the millennials?