The Life List Overhaul: Or Why I Chose Boot Camp Over Baby Steps

Welcome to Life List Friday! First order of business is to welcome David Walker to our illustrious list of LLC writers! We are so happy to have you with us, David!

Now, my guest today is none other than my sweet friend and LLC co-founder, the entertaining and very talented Jess Witkins!

Note: I’m guest posting over at Jennie Bennett’s blog today. Please stop by there when you’ve had enough of  thoroughly enjoyed Jess’ post. And don’t forget that you can blog hop to all the other writers’ blogs. They’re all listed in my sidebar.

Jess WitkinsJess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town as the much younger youngest sibling of four, she’s witnessed the paranormal, jumped out of a plane, worked in retail, traveled to exotic locations like Italy, Ireland, and Shipshewana, Indiana, and she’s eaten bologna and lived to tell about it! She deals with it all and writes about it! Come along on her midwest adventures; Witkins promises to keep it honest and entertaining. Go ahead, SUBSCRIBE, you know you want to.

Hello, Marcia and Marcia’s readers! It seems very fitting that this post should be placed at my co-conspirator’s blog. After all, Marcia, you’re the one who started all this! And let me tell you, readers, when Marcia sets her mind to something, she can be QUITE persuasive. Truth is, I’m so grateful.

I’ve met and become friends with some of the most intelligent, witty, and productive people blogging today, many of whom are Life List Club contributors. There’s just one little thing. I felt like I wasn’t matching their talents.

Here’s a fun fact about me. I talk very fast. I’m not as bad as say, Six, the best friend on the 90’s TV show Blossom (bou coup points for you if you watched that show), but my childhood nickname was Chatterbox. Because I talk fast, I have a tendency to want change fast in my life. And this past year, that hasn’t been the case, at least not to the extent I had hoped.

soldierSo I made a challenge for myself. One week. A one week challenge was why I started blogging 10 months ago. It was a challenge I set up for myself, and I needed another one. Please allow me to introduce you to The Life List Overhaul, or why Boot Camp is better than Baby Steps for some of us.


  • Write 5 blog posts ahead.
  • Catch up on Warrior Writer Boot Camp, provide feedback on some drafts.
  • Listen to audio books while driving.
  • Read before bed each night.
  • Start up exercising again. (3x/week)

My goals were simple but I needed them in order to prove to myself I COULD DO IT ALL. If you’re reading this thinking, ‘I want to make my own boot camp!’ Good, do! However, know that I planned in advance. My work schedule is ridiculous, meaning it’s never the same and I rarely get to leave on time. I planned two weeks earlier what my goals would be and set them for the week of Labor Day when I would have an extra day to progress. I also knew ahead that I was going to be traveling a lot this week. Both weekends I’d planned trips home to see my family (it’s my sis’ birthday) and I had to drive to Minneapolis for a work training. So, how realistic was I being? Don’t panic, I made myself some rules too.


  • Life comes first.
  • Wake up early.
  • Feelings lie.

That’s all I needed for rules. Those three are getting me through this week very well. I was able to get blogging done early in the morning before my nieces and nephew came over for dinner. I got my work done, and I put them first when they were there. If I wanted more time to read my favorite bloggers, I told myself I had to wake up earlier. Sometimes, “morning me” didn’t like this plan, and my 6 am goal, turned into 7:30, but it’s something I’m still working at. And that rule #3, feelings lie, is very true. Maybe “morning me” didn’t want to wake up, but once I was working on my writing while the day was still quiet, it was really an amazing feeling.

When it came to the reading I wanted to accomplish, I made it through an entire audio book during my 6 three-hour drives this week, which made me feel I hadn’t wasted time doing non-writerly things. And reading before bed let me get in at least a chapter a day, since I’d been spending all my work breaks still working.

When it comes to working out, my feelings lie a lot! So I started easy. No use kicking my butt to torture myself, I wanted to use it as a reward. So I started the week with a walk in the marsh with my honey. And while we walked, we got to see a female crane fishing up close. And the hammock time we put in afterwards was a great reward! I’m going to complete my two other work out days by doing an at home workout. I do 30 reps of sit ups and push ups, time for stretching, and weights. Then when I’m home, I’ll go to the gym in the morning and get back on that blasted elliptical machine.

‘Life comes first’ is a tough rule for me to follow, but a necessary one. I didn’t want to miss seeing my family just to get all my writing done that day. I needed to space it out and wake up early. At the same time, obstacles arise, and if my writing time got cut short, I needed to remember that ‘Life comes first’.

So now you know why I chose boot camp over baby steps. I have a need to prove myself, even to myself. Maybe that’s messed up, but this week did show me what’s possible if I set my mind to it. I made progress with my goals, and I learned a lot about myself and how I work best too. And I was constantly reminded that ‘LIFE comes first’.

Have you ever had to force yourself into boot camp? What goals were you trying to achieve? What rules do you need to remind yourself on?

To stalk visit Jess:

Follow on Twitter: @jesswitkins

E-mail: jessi.witkins (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Jess, you inspire me! Thank you so much for this empowering post!

You know I love hearing from you and anxiously await your comments! Let’s throw Jess some tomatoes comment love!

Now don’t forget to get on your pogo stick and hop over to Jennie Bennett’s blog, A Book, A Girl, A Journey, to visit me, then keep on hoppin’!


26 thoughts on “The Life List Overhaul: Or Why I Chose Boot Camp Over Baby Steps

  1. Pingback: The Party Don’t Start Til I Walk In « Jess Witkins' Happiness Project

  2. Jess,

    I tried this a couple different ways – wake up early or stay up late. I got more done when I stayed up late so that’s the way I do it. The 10 pm – 1 am time is mine and i get way more done.

    • I’m the same way, Jenny! Getting up early reminds ‘retired me’ of my working days. Late night is when I’m most creative anyway. Thanks for coming over!

    • Absolutely, either way! I wouldn’t mind doing the stay up late, but I do have to get up early for work, and I live with a teacher, so it’s easier if I synch up to those schedules. We’ll see. I’d really like to do full NaNoWriMo this November, so I imagine I’ll be doing a bit of both.

    • I’m totally starting to see that too. And i’ve found that easing myself into it by 10 minute intervals is working better than trying to gain an hour right away. That big a leap causes snooze button overuse. LOL

  3. It’s been a crazy two weeks around my house and I’ve been wondering if I’m really truly capable of doing it all.

    After reading your post I know what step I’ve been missing. Life first. Thanks! Love the whole bootcamp over babysteps concept. I’m enjoying reading other Life Listers when I can get to them too. Glad you and Marcia became co-conspirators!

  4. Jess, I think one of the best parts of this plan is that you made this a one-week challenge! We can do anything for 1 WEEK! It’s a bite-sized plan that can be renewed over and over. And it’s a great way to kickstart reaching for a goal. Awesome idea, Jess.

  5. Fantastic post! I hear ya on the “morning me.” Baby Steps work really well for me when I’m feeling too overwhelmed to start but I definitely see the value of charging ahead with a Boot Camp approach too. Great rules. I need to print those out and post ’em on my computer. 😀

  6. Great post, Jess!
    I think I need a boot camp. I’ve been struggling trying to figure out how to fit my writing in along with a f/t job, 2 kids, husband, working out, daily bits around the house…eesh. But I know other writers get it done, and your post really drives it home.
    Thank you for helping me take a step back and re-evaluate things. LIFE does come first, and “feelings” DO lie.

    • Nice to know we’re not alone. There are many of us who struggle to get it all done, but we have moments of our lives where we can (and need to) prove to OURSELVES it’s possible.

  7. Great goals. I’ve been getting up earlier, too, but for different reasons. The hardest part (for me) is that I’m so tired I have a hard time thinking clearly. You’re right about feelings lying, though. If you give in to natural laziness or fear, you’ll never get anywhere. Thanks for a great post. 😀

    • Absolutely! Please do! I know you have a busy schedule and little ones, so hopefully this power week helps you feel like you accomplished lots.

  8. Ditto what Gene said about “feelings lie!” This made me realize that although I didn’t know it, I’ve kind of been taking the “boot camp” approach with my fitness goals and the “baby steps” approach in my writing. And that’s been because the fitness side of things is where my “feelings lie,” and where I need more of a drill sargaent approach to get anywhere. With writing, I truly love and WANT to reach for my goals. My feelings don’t lie there, even if they sometimes do get a bit squashed by life’s nuttiness!

    • I get that! My favorite classes at the gym (when I use to go regularly) were kickboxing, spin, and stations. The trainers really push you in those classes. And I gotta hand it that kind of work out-it is the ONLY thing that clears my head of stress because I have to focus on the workout completely to get through. That is really the best part. And the health benefits too.

    • I’m going to do my best to keep abiding by them. Thanks for stopping by Vix! Happy to have you meet the Life Listers!

  9. Jess, you never cease to amaze and inspire me 🙂
    The goals you are setting and especially the rules are well-thought and brilliant. Especially, “feelings lie”, we all have that tiny inner voice that tries to defeat us before we can begin and your rule addresses that directly, calling notice to it and depowering it.

    All the best as you progress forward and I look forward to seeing / joining in with you on Warrior Writers Boot Camp.

    • Feelings lie is one of the strongest messages Kristen Lamb talks about. And I see how it is true everyday. Of course I don’t want to get up early, but when I have an extra 2-3 hours to write or prepare blogs, I feel so accomplished after that.

      See you in WWBC!!

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