Tag Archives: goals

Happy 2015!! Sneak up on those goals!

So it’s a brand new year all ready. Are you prepared?

First I always find it pays to look at the last year – while trying very hard to look at things in a positive manner, focusing on what was achieved and accomplished rather than just what wasn’t accomplished. 🙂

Then comes the new year, and for me, since I have rather mixed feelings about January and February (mostly like a post-holiday hang-over and that these are the long, dark months of winter). So, I’ve been “sneaking up” on my goals for the year. Since I know many people have rather mixed feelings about year-long goals and and setting resolutions, I thought I’d share how you, too, can sneak up on your goals. 🙂

Christmas and the holidays can be very stressful and full of excitement. And while it’s wonderful, exciting, and more glittery than any other time of the year, there’s also the inevitable let-down when all the pretty lights go out and we’re left in the dark of January and February. It can be easier to look at the negative in that kind of environment. If you’re not pleased with your progress (you know, since you’re looking at the negative), it can be really hard to see the bright possibility of a new year. Dark questions arise. What’s the point of writing (or whatever it is that you’re doing)? Why am I doing this anyway? Why shouldn’t I just quit and try something else?

Here’s the trick of the sneaking up: don’t treat the questions as rhetorical. Answer them. Yep, you heard me. Those questions that start to get you down? Answer them, with honesty and an open heart. Free-writing or a journal entry that no one else ever has to see is a great start (and it’s what worked for me.)

Yes, at first you may start out in the kind of tone better for a grumpy ogre. But keep writing. Keep opening yourself to the possibilities.

Why do I do this? Because I’m a writer, and that’s what I do. It isn’t all about the marketing, the sales, or becoming a bestseller. It’s about writing, creating a story, and hopefully sharing that story with readers. I continue to press onward in part because I’m more stubborn than is probably healthy, and because I want to send a positive example for my young daughter. What’s the point of writing what I write? Because I believe in it, and because I write the stories that I want to read – even if not everyone is going to love them (the subjectivity of the business), and even if it’s not what everyone else writes. Why shouldn’t I give up and try something else? Because I’m a writer, and it’s too much a part of me to just stop (besides, I did mention that more stubborn than healthy part, right?) 😉

As you find your truths by answering these questions, the goals often arise from them. Has one action not resulted in what you want? Well, maybe it’s time to switch tactics. Does something scare you? Maybe you should consider doing it anyway.

And in the end, while I have a few more specific goals, I also have some broader ideas that I want to bring into my life in 2015. I want to live bravely, pushing my own boundaries. I want to build in more fun into my life, for the sake of stress-relief and because hey, fun is good! 😉 And I want to act, reaching for my dreams instead of just dreaming about them.

Wishing you power, bravery, and fun in your 2015, along with whatever you work toward. All the best, thanks for reading, and I look forward to chatting throughout the year. 🙂

Taking Stock of the Year

So you’ve survived yet another year. YAY! Glad you’re still with us. 😉

And at this time of year, it’s only suitable to start to look back and consider the year. Remember those goals you were supposed to write down at the beginning of the year? Yep, those ones. Go drag them out now, hmm? I’ll wait.

(waiting. Tapping fingers. Playing with iPad.)

Back? Excellent. Now, take a deep breath, close your eyes for a minute, and start to read back over your goals. DO NOT jump to your first conclusion of “gee, I didn’t get this done … or this … or this.”

Instead, check off the things you DID achieve. There are at least one or two in there, right? Maybe expand on it a little, going over how you achieved it, maybe padding the achievement a bit. Did you only get one book written? Yes, but this was exceptional circumstances, and it’s now the best book you’ve ever written, with blood and tears,  a steep learning curve, and the potential for bleeding fingers. Did you achieve some of those bigger goals? Woohoo! Celebrate and be happy (though you were celebrating those things at the time, right?)

Now it’s time to start a new list. Write down what you DID achieve this year. If you want to stick to career only goals, or if you want to branch out to all areas of your life, write it down. Did you learn a new language? Paint your house? Do something you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe celebrated a milestone, or completely changed your life with a new child, a marriage, a move, etc.

Now add this to the original list. And take stock. It’s strange to see an entire year summed up that way, and it’s very easy to forget some of the things we have achieved, especially if we’re focused on the negative or perhaps mired in a bad mood at the time we look at the list. And while it can be easy to say it was a “bad” year, or “hard,” guess what buttercup? Most years are. Because that’s how life is, and it’s why our victories seem all the sweeter. So remember gratitude and the wonderful things you’ve experienced this year, and all that life has brought you. And then get ready, set, go, because a new year is about to come, and it’s ripe with potential and waiting for you with all the best intentions.

Happy New Year to you, and may 2014 be a fantastic one! 🙂

Thanks for reading, and see you in the new year.

7 Reasons for Hope to Persevere

It’s scarcely 1/6 of the way through the year (17%), and I begin to wonder if I can achieve what I set out to do, if this will be another year when I try hard, but nothing seems to come of it. More rejections, and I fear contest entries were more like throwing away money. In short, self-doubt and depression come calling.

What about you? Have you fallen off the goal-wagon? Are you, like me,  frustrated with your progress in life and career?BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 055

Don’t be.

  1. There are 10 more months left to reach those goals – that’s 83% of the year.
  2. It’s winter. Everything sucks in winter – that’s not your fault, so don’t let it suck you in.
  3. Spring is right around the corner. No, really. Those snow drifts will melt away just like the resistance you’re feeling right now; bright green buds will sprout, along with new opportunity and hope you didn’t think existed.
  4. Things have to be crappy sometimes so we appreciate when wonderful things happen. That means wonderful things are right around the corner.
  5. Your life is full of blessings and wonderful treasures – even if your immediate goal is still out of reach. Take the opportunity to open your eyes and appreciate what you have, what life is RIGHT NOW, instead of what you want it to be.
  6. Change is hard. Growth can be accompanied by growing pains. Just wait until you see what comes next.
  7. This gully is just part of the road you’re on. You are NOT the road. The vista will look brighter from the top of that next hill.

How do you find and maintain hope?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Goals Check-in: Never Surrender!

BC2010 Holiday Aug4_10 067So, I’m not great with math, but even I know that seeing as February is coming to a close, we’re about 1/6 of the way through 2013. Which leads to my check-in. How are the goals coming along?

You did set some goals right?  Have you taken a look at them since you last wrote them down?

Here’s the thing: making goals is excellent. KEEPING and ACHIEVING goals is much better.  So come on, go find those goals you set and take a look. Don’t worry, I’ll wait ….

…..

Okay. Back yet?

It shouldn’t have been too difficult for you to find those goals. Ideally, they should be somewhere you can see them regularly. Well, how have you been doing so far? Not so hot? Do you feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon? Have you already resolved to stick to goals next year … or maybe when it’s easier? Or maybe, like me, some goals you’ve been doing well on, while others have languished.

Here’s the thing: it’s a new month. Tomorrow is a new day. You can start over whenever you feel like.

 

“Stumbling is not falling.” – Portuguese Proverb

 

 

 

So. 1/6 through the year. Look over your goals. Is that still the direction you want to head? By all means, abandon those which really don’t work – but don’t do it hastily. Instead, give it another try. Stick to it. You can do it – I know you will. And then, when you’ve accomplished these, you get to make NEW goals next year, and wouldn’t that be nice instead of the same ones over and over?

 

How do you stick to your goals? Or conversely, what makes you slip-up?

 

Good luck. Good for you to keep trying. And thanks for reading.

 

Priorities: Is it time for re-ordering them?

Do you have your priorities in order? Do you even know what your priorities are? When was the last time you assessed them, and considered whether you lived according to these priorities?

My priorities are fairly simple. Family. Writing. Friends. Everything else (and yes, housework is somewhere way down the list).

The top three are, to me, the most important ones, though even as I write this, I find myself switching them around a few times, adjusting. Because let’s face it: if we put them in order of priority, it means at one point or another, one of them will “win” over a lower ranked priority.

It’s not a very nice thing, is it? To consider that we’d choose our career over our friends? For some people, perhaps career ranks the highest for them. For me, sometimes this is the case. Which is where this post comes from.

Is your priority list shifting? Do you allow it and yourself that freedom, or hold yourself to a more rigid standard?

Last month, I was desperate to finish Christmas presents galore (I make most of them), get the house prepared for my party, AND finish the rewrite on a novel so I could get it submitted to a contest and have it out of my head for holidays. I wanted to achieve it all simultaneously, which is impossible. And to get it done, I had to shift around the priorities a little bit. Writing moved up higher on the list, and I had to sacrifice some of my time with my family to get things done. BUT, using a shifting priority list, I DID get it all done.

Keeping track of your priorities also means that on your writing day, sometimes you have to say no to other offers and possibilities – because that day, writing may outrank other priorities (like friends or fun). Whatever the case, I try to assess what’s most important to me at that time, and set my priorities and actions accordingly. Usually it’s the first three that continue to shift and dance amidst the positions, and remind me what I want, what I need to do to get it, and where I need to go.

So what about you? Do you think priorities must be set in stone, or are yours shifting as you need them, too?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Tangible Productivity Markers for a New Year

Do you have a new calendar yet? Have you written out goals and plans on it? Or do you let the days pass as they will?

As we begin a new year, I’ve been thinking more about using time instead of chasing after it all the time. Instead of having a bit of a loosey-goosey idea of when I want to achieve things, I think I’m going to try for more tangible dates and times. Why would this work for me? Because I work well with a deadline.

I’ve heard of others who write everything down on a calendar. I’m far from that place now. My desk calendar is usually too small to write anything more than a few letters beside each date. But, I do like my log book, where I write down how many words I’ve achieved each day, what I’ve accomplished.

Taking it one step further would be placing a date more firmly on those objectives. This year, I want to write at least two complete novels. That means it takes me usually about two months for the first draft, and pushing hard, I can do the next draft(s) in four months using my new plan. If I switch back and forth between two novels, giving each time to rest, that means I should be able to achieve my goal, right?

That’s the first part. So I can write that down in my goals, on a calendar. I think the second part is perhaps assessment at various points throughout the year. It’s June, the halfway point: what have you achieved thus far? Word count? Novels? Plans? Goals checked off? Where do you still need to go?

The next part that I’ve been considering is watching the calendar not only for what I need to achieve, but for what I have all ready achieved. Essentially, how can I reward myself? Pat myself on the back – even if I haven’t completed as much as I need to? Because here’s the thing: especially while you work for yourself, who else is going to tell you you’re doing a good job? I think the next part of the plan would be to insert rewards for some of the achievements. Have I met my goals by June? I can specify which goals or what number, and that means I’ve earned a reward, like buying myself a new outfit, or dinner out, something like that (seeing as fun isn’t actually against the law … so far as I know).

Yes, fine, it may sound a bit Pavlovian, but those dogs still hoped for the treat when the bell rang, didn’t they? Why shouldn’t I work just as hard and hope for a treat myself? If it helps me reach my goals, I’m all for it. What about you?

Thanks for reading. Have a great week, and happy writing!

Time to Reflect on the Past Year: Or, Where the heck did 2012 go?!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I swear, someone stole at least a month out from under me in the past year. It seemed like it was just June, and now suddenly we’re saying farewell to another year. Yikes!

However, not to worry. Because looking back at the year that was is a pretty wonderful thing. Oh, I heard that – the rolling of the eyes, the gnashing of the teeth. Seriously: looking back at the year and what you’ve accomplished IS a great thing, because it will help set you on the path for the coming year.

Okay. So, the first thing you need to do is get all the disappointment and fretting out of your system. Get rid of the “but I didn’t …” and “I was supposed to …” and “I still keep [insert bad habit here]” statements. Trust me, they echo pretty loudly in my head too at this time of the year, but they’re just distracting little devils who don’t want you to see the bigger picture – and that’s what you need to focus on.

If it helps, write them down. Keep it quick, no brooding. All you want to do is get it out of your head, and out of the way.

For me, I still remain unpublished, and un-agented. Time is always at a premium, I’m more out of shape than I care to mention, and I never accomplish as much as I think I should.

Okay. Done. Onto the next step. The important step.

What HAVE you accomplished? Remember at the beginning of the year when you dutifully wrote down all your goals and broke them down into manageable portions that could be easily identified as achieved or not?

Actually, I don’t remember that either. Last year, I didn’t really want to set goals, and only did it kind of accidentally since it appears to be stuck in my system. If you were a good boy or girl, and you have your written goals for 2012, go get them and start checking them off – see all you accomplished?

For the rest of us, I’ll have more on goal-setting for us in the next post. But for now, start writing down what you have accomplished. A few items will probably stand out in your head. Some may start out as negative devils again, so work on turning them around. I’ll offer one of my own examples.

– With the help of my CP and my own research, I discovered at least one massive flaw in my writing and particularly plotting. This led to self-doubt, and lots of teeth gnashing.

Okay, see the negativity? Here’s what I gained out of that negative experience this year.

-Finally found a CP worth their salt (possibly two of them!).

-Discovered and fixed a hole in my writing and plotting, improving overall quality.

-Continued to write despite set-backs, and have put into place new methods for productivity measurement, self-encouragement, and affirmation for the low points.

See? Easy. Now it’s your turn. I’ll wait.

Now how’s it looking? Hopefully, pretty positive. I know you accomplished a lot more than you think you have. And if you haven’t accomplished as much as you wanted, well, look at that! There’s a new year on the horizon, ripe with possibility, and it’s yours, if you have the courage to reach out and grab it.

Thanks for reading, and Happy 2013 to you all. See you in the new year!

Word Splurge: Measuring Productivity Tool and Tips

Hey there. Fairly short post today, since I need to get writing. I’m past my hour allotted for the day for the internet.

Part of why I’m excited to get writing is because progress has been good. It’s been a long time since I broke the 10k mark in a week, let alone in one day’s worth of writing, but last week I did just that. And I think I owe part of it to a) remembering part of the method that usually works for me but which for some reason I seem to randomly forget, and b) my nifty new word count tracking sheet.

This is something I learned about at the latest conference, and with the hubby’s help, created my own. The original purpose is to track how long it takes you to complete a book by tracking your progress consistently. But, as a side benefit, it also helps you see how you’re meeting your daily and weekly goals, and your progress along the book. I’m not sure why, but seeing that you’ve only completed 35% of the day’s goals rather than just knowing that you haven’t met the daily goal does seem to make a difference.

I’ve included a little picture of it; not sure how it will turn out. Sorry – for some reason, it wants to appear incredibly blurry and tiny. If you click on it, it opens in a new window and is easier to see.

Okay, so the headings you want are: your dates, your starting word count, the end word count for the date, total word count for the day, and then it breaks this down into percentages complete. At the top, you enter the WIP title, along with your goals: daily and “stretch” goals – the “stretch” is, if you’re having a great day, what can you keep pushing for? Then you have the weekly and total goals (the total goal equaling the completed manuscript size).  If you prefer counting pages rather than words, than just change word count to beginning page count, end word count, etc, etc.

What else did I forget to do that I had been doing in previous manuscripts?

  1. slightly more detailed plotting (I can’t just start writing with no direction; it only creates a mess in the end for me.)
  2. music – listening to some favorite music helps speed through the time, I think, as well as distract my brain from … well, distractions. I know I can’t listen to anything with words, but maybe it isn’t a problem for you.
  3. push harder and demand focus. “Good enough” will only get you so far; you have to keep demanding more of yourself, because who else will?

Anyway, sorry again it’s so blurry. If you’re interested in seeing it closer, the file is here for you to check out: Wordcount

Enjoy, and may your word counts be prodigious!

Mountain Climbing in a Fog: How Do We Measure Progress?

We all have end goals, some small, some, well,  mountainous. Some goals – and their attainment – is easy to measure and see. Others less so, especially if success is something measured in our heads. That makes some of these goals like mountain-climbing in the fog: we have no way of knowing where we are on our journey, if we’re at the foot of the mountain or inches from the top. But we just have to have faith and keep climbing anyway.

Mountain from BC holiday, Aug 2010
Mountain from BC holiday, Aug 2010; photo taken by me.

Sounds “easy,” huh? 😉

My husband has a new position in the company he works for which is relatively new, and which some days, he feels wholly unequal to. He knows where he wants to go, what he wants to achieve, and while I’m certain he has made progress towards those goals, he isn’t so sure. For him, I’ve found that sometimes he questions his own abilities and qualifications, often under-estimating them. And really, I think this is something a lot of us do, no matter what field we work in. When something really matters, we want to put our very best into it – whether that’s our writing, our office jobs, our relationships, whatever. Sometimes it feels we’re not equal to the task – especially when you hit tough terrain on that mountain. All we can continue to do is value and yet continue to improve our skills, abilities, and selves – perhaps sometimes just our confidence – to make ourselves capable and earn success.

The thing with amorphous goals is that it’s very difficult to see the signposts on the journey upwards. At least, not on the way up. Maybe we’ve drawn a map, and we know we’re fulfilling each point – like publishing, with querying, agents, more manuscripts complete, etc.  Equally frustrating is the old adage that no one’s journey is the same: a maddening adage because it’s so true. We have to set our sights on a mountaintop we more imagine than see; perhaps we don’t even know how tall the mountain – or how long the journey – will be. It’s probably better we don’t. Then we pack up everything we’ll need to get there: every skill and wit we possess; faith that the goal is attainable; friends and loved ones to help us on the way; education material to keep improving the materials we’re working with; and a touch of sheer orneriness to keep us going even when many others would have given up.

Then onward we head, up our mountain, towards our goals, towards our dreams and the promises we make to ourselves.

Sometimes the journey will be shorter than we expected; maybe we picked a short mountain, or maybe we started half-way up. Other times, things will get hard; the top wouldn’t be so special if they weren’t. But we’ll promise ourselves to keep on climbing, keep on reaching, no matter what. And hopefully, when we reach the top, the fog will clear if only for an instant so we can look back at the path we’ve come from and at the vista of our success … or maybe we’ll realize we’ve only reached a partial summit of a bigger mountain, a bigger journey, that we’ve only just begun.

Cheers to all the “mountain climbers” out there – may you keep on climbing, and may you enjoy the view when you get to the top.

Next week, I’ll look at how we can establish particular “markers” to measure (or guess) how far we’ve come.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

What Are Your Reasons? : Remembering Why You Persevere

Maybe it’s the dull day, maybe it’s a lot of other things, but I’ve been feeling pretty down about my writing lately, which led me to go back to my list. I think most of us – no matter what goal we strive for and continue to fight to achieve – sometimes feel like the battle is all up hill for too long, and you’re somewhere near the bottom, stuck in the mud (or maybe that’s just me, who knows). Anyway, what helps – and the advice I’ve seen for most long-term goals whether weight-loss or publication dreams – is to make yourself a list of all the reasons you can’t quit. Or if you like, perhaps it’s a list of why you started on the path to your goal. Whatever the case, it becomes a list of why you can’t quit. If the quest for the same goal continues on for a very long time, I imagine some of the reasons may change, or perhaps no longer apply, but they’re still important.

I thought today – since I was looking at it – I’d share my list, perhaps to inspire you to start one of your own. It’s easier than you think, since I’m only asking for ten reasons to start with (if you want to move up to twenty or fifty, bravo, and keep at it). But for now, let’s start with ten. If you’re in the down-swing of mud-slogging, than it may feel pretty hard coming up with any reasons not to quit. So, here’s how to anyway. Start with the title: Ten Reasons Why I Can’t Quit …. [insert your goal – mine was writing]. Then number the page 1 to 10. Then start filling in each number. Allow yourself the freedom of “stupid” or “obvious” reasons – especially for the first few. Just because they’re obvious doesn’t make them bad, and you can replace them later if you come up with something better. But, just fill in those 10. Okay, get started, I’ll wait ….

Okay, did you do it? Do you have your 10? Sign and date it on the bottom – it’s helpful sometimes to know when you last needed this list, and how current it is. Now either post or put it somewhere you can find and refer to easily. Especially on the hard days. And remember, not every day will be a hard day – there are always better ones ahead. And use your ten reasons to keep you strong, or at least keep you pushing along even on the days you are stuck in the mud at the bottom of the hill.

Here are my ten, completed just as I suggested you do yours.

Ten Reasons I Can’t Quit Writing

 

  1. Writing is a part of me. I wouldn’t feel complete or satisfied without it.
  2. Only those who don’t quit, who persevere, can succeed.
  3. It’s my dream to be published, to have readers other than just a close few.
  4. I want to make money doing what I love.
  5. I want to be an example to my children that you can follow your dreams and passion, and succeed: you don’t have to compromise.
  6. I want to be an example to my children of the merits of patience and perseverance (and that there is reward after all the hard parts.)
  7. I want to tell my stories, and I want my voice to be heard.
  8. I want to prove to myself and to those who have supported me that I can stick it out, I can be true to myself, AND I can succeed – and they can, too.
  9. My stories and my vision are unique, and deserve to be shared and showcased.
  10. I want to be one of the few. The few writers who persevere and succeed; the few people who follow their dreams and inner passion; the few people who don’t sell-out or compromise their lives.

–          S.C. Chalmers, August 14, 2011

What are your goals? What are your reasons? Is there a general theme to them? What does it say about you – I showed you mine, so what about you? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.