Tag Archives: life goals

2017 Goals – Publish More Books, Start a Podcast

Figure with a check listBecause I knew that I hadn’t accomplished most of my 2016 goals, I made a point of writing down my Goals Master List for 2017 before the end of December. Then I went through it looking for the 7 to 10 major goals that I really wanted to accomplish in all the various areas of my life this year.

I thought perhaps it would inspire you to do the same if I shared with you my goals. Here they are:

  1. Publish the first three books in the Strays of Loon Lake romantic comedy series
  2. Publish “My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine” by February 14
  3. Outline Burden of Magic, the working title for the supernatural thriller that I’ve been working on and thinking about since grad school in 2011
  4. Create a business system for writing, marketing, finances, etc.
  5. Finish creating the video-based self-publishing class that I started, and update the time management class I teach
  6.  Begin my new podcast in late spring (I’m so excited about this!)
  7. Read one or more nonfiction books on business or writing, and one or more novels every month
  8. Lose 25 to 30 pounds to get to 145 by December 1
  9. Run one half marathon at my fastest time ever by December 31
  10. Create a habit of 60 minutes of Bible study and prayer daily, Monday through Friday

And then I have my extra goals, the ones I’ll do if I have time while making sure my primary goals get accomplished first. They include finishing every class and course I have ever signed up for! Haha! And to also finish writing and publish Rent-a-Wife, book 2 after Little Miss Lovesick in the Traverse City in Love series.

As you can see, some of these goals will have many smaller parts to them. And a few of these are smaller parts of bigger goals. For instance, for several years I have said that I want to be my fittest, strongest, fastest ever by the time I hit 50. I turn 49 in two months! So I only have 14 months to sign up for and run a half marathon, and make it my fastest one ever. And I’ll need to be my fittest ever in order to reach that goal, which includes losing those last 25 to 30 pounds.

This year, I tried to balance my work and personal goals so that I don’t ignore one part of my life in favor of another. There are a lot of factors that may change the likelihood of me accomplishing any or all of these goals, of course, just like for any of us. But I’m excited to have a list that looks challenging as well as doable.

Smiley face with thumb upWhat about you? Do you have 2 or 3 or 5 or 10 goals that you’d like to accomplish this year? Have you written them down yet? And have you written down the steps you’ll need to take in order to accomplish those goals? I hope that by sharing my list I’m encouraging you to work on making this year your best year ever!

Good luck! I know you can do it!

How I’m Kinda Like Mitochondria

j0178844June was a rough month for me. I think I was beginning to get depressed due to the current status of our life. I was tired and angry and not sleeping well and just plain snippy about everything. When I went away for a week on my writing retreat at the end of June, I was able to – in fact, had to – leave all my problems behind so I could focus on writing my book.

By the end of the week, I felt much more myself. Of course, driving home back to my problems felt a little less great…which only underscored the possibility that I’d let things weigh on me far too much. So I’ve been thinking about how I can get through a stressful time without letting it destroy my peace and joy.

Earlier this week, I was thinking about what I’m on this earth to do. Like everyone, I’m sure there are dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of things God has planned for me to do before he brings me home. But I wanted to focus on what I’m doing for a living. Am I doing what I’m meant to do? Does not having much financial reward prove I’m doing the wrong thing or doing the right things wrong? Most business people would say yes.

Mother Theresa would likely disagree. But I’m not a good enough storyteller to concoct a believable comparison between my work and hers. 😉

But then a few days ago I was thinking about what Paul said about the parts of the body in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. – Romans 12:4-8

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. – 1 Corinthians 12:14-22

We all know we each have different gifts, but I suspect we don’t think about it consciously often enough. When I let myself get lost in a maelstrom of discontent, I’m not my usual Kitty self. The light and laughter and encouragement I normally bring to all my relationships, including my interactions with strangers, is lost, and so everyone around me loses out as well.

The same for you. When you’re temporarily lost from yourself, the gifts you normally give to the world – probably without thinking about it – also disappear. The people around you suffer from it, whether anyone realizes it or not.

So I was thinking about my writing and teaching, and I asked God if I was on the wrong path. I quickly got the distinct impression that I am not on the wrong path so much as I’m thinking about it all wrong.

Since times have been tough for us the last few years, especially financially, I started putting all of my focus into making money from my work. I have a business degree and a MA in creative writing, I’ve taken dozens of additional classes, both free and paid, and all around me I hear, “This is how you can make more money.”

I can’t speak for everyone else in the world, but when I put my focus on the money and not on the work, everything went wrong. Everything. Nothing worked for me. And I got real close to being depressed. Not good.

Structure mitochondrion diagram. mitochondrion organelle found in most eukaryotic cells

Structure mitochondrion diagram. mitochondrion organelle found in most eukaryotic cells

So I was sitting there last week talking to God and thinking – okay, maybe the hands and the eyes and the ears are super good at making money, but not, say, the bone marrow. Maybe I’m the bone marrow – indispensable, but all the work it does is invisible. Or maybe I’m a mitochondrion. When was the last time you saw and appreciated what mitochondria do? Haha!

That day – just a few days ago, remember – I tried to convince myself that I needed to focus on the work I knew I should be doing and not focus on money. I want to help people – encourage them, empower them, entertain them – and apparently I can’t do that when I’m focused on whether what I’m providing is of great enough value to pay the rent.

And you know what? Already, I’ve seen a huge increase in my creativity and joy. I’m back to being the real Kitty again! (Whew!)

Am I going to ignore money altogether? Will I put my head in the sand and try to pretend we don’t have financial problems? No. One of my teachers wrote in an email last week that he takes a day every other week to think about the big picture, come up with creative ideas, etc.

So I’m going to borrow a page from his playbook. Every other week I’m going to sit down for a couple hours and look at the money side of my work and try to come up with better ways to make a living from what I do. But for the other 13 days every fortnight, I’m going to focus on the gifts I know I’m supposed to use.

I’m going to help people, and that is going to make me so happy. Why? Because this mitochondrion will be doing the job it was meant to do, whether anyone sees it or not. 🙂

What about you? Do you feel you’re doing what you are meant to do? If not, leave a comment and tell me what you want to change. Maybe I can use my gifts to encourage you!

Time and Project Management Class Starts Monday

j0227558Hello my friends! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s. I sure did. I’d planned since last Christmas to take two full weeks off and relax. Right up to the last minute, I was sure I wouldn’t “be able to” do it. But in the end, I did!

My workload piled up during the two weeks off, but I feel so much more relaxed and rested and ready for work! How did I manage to take so much vacation time when life has been battering me for the last couple of years? The primary reason is because last January I laid out a written plan for my year.

Granted, a LOT of things went wrong with the plan. I couldn’t have anticipated six months of unemployment for John. I made more money than I did in 2012, but it wasn’t enough to offset the costs of a few book-selling risks I took that didn’t pay off. Near the end of the year, I had to put my writing business on the back burner and work full-time at a temp job.

Calendar 2013But for the whole year, I could look at my writing plan and my calendar and I could figure out how each of my plans would be affected by the new turn life took. I could move the sticky notes on the calendar to change deadlines. I could cancel things that just couldn’t be accomplished now that the course of life had changed.

And I could do it all with more peace than usual because I had a written, changeable plan.

If you’d like to work with me over the next four weeks to get a plan in place for you this year, please sign up for my online class Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. Due to popular demand, this is the fourth year I’ve taught this class, and there’s always something new to learn and share. I hope you’ll join us!

What do you want to accomplish this year?

Do You Have Soul?

I’m one of those people who believes God talks to us. Maybe not in a James Earl Jones voice from the clouds – though I wouldn’t put it past him to do that if He wanted to – but He finds ways to tell us what He’s thinking.

A long time ago, frustrated and trying to make a decision about something, I told God in exasperation, “Can you please try to remember I am slow and half-deaf? I need something concrete. You do lots of things in threes, how about you tell me things three times so I know it’s you?”

To my surprise, God agreed! Every time something strikes me and gets my attention, I ask God if He’s talking to me. I wait to see if the same point or idea comes up twice more in a short period of time, and if it does, I talk to Him about it. I am often surprised when I realize God is trying to get my attention (silly human!), but I love that He cares enough to talk to me and try to help me find better ways to live.

This happened most recently last week on my writer’s retreat. I kept running into people and web sites (much more than three times that week!) who were doing business in such a way that they incorporated the spiritual side of life into their business. For years, I’ve been led to believe by Christian friends and associates that it’s okay for other people to do that, but Christians will get dismissed, disrespected, and torn apart.

rbbp-coverI’m in a business mentorship program with Jennifer Lee at The Right-Brain Business Plan, and she also encourages her cohorts to “show up as authentically YOU.” She believes this is part of how you grow a business. I wonder now if the people who have told me this is how you can destroy a business actually have growing, blooming businesses.

I don’t believe that hiding parts of me is the best way to do business anymore. The people who like me seem to be perfectly fine with decades of my occasional God-talk. I don’t personally know of that many people who don’t like me, but the ones I know about dislike a whole lot more things about me than my spiritual take on life.

So this is what I decided last week: I’m going to be even more myself than I’ve ever been before. I’m going to be authentic. I’m going to stop separating my spiritual life from my business life. I’m going to work on better integrating all the parts of me. I’ll probably lose some customers and gain some customers, and that’s okay.

Because when I’m my real, whole self, being led by the deepest, most important part of me, I’ll be able to help encourage other people to do the same. What if we all lived our lives that way? What if we had the courage to be authentic, to work on getting closer and closer to the people we were created to be?

I think Louis Armstrong has the words for that: what a wonderful world it would be.

It’s not a pipe dream. It’s not idealistic, wishful thinking. If we let our spirits and souls live and breathe and grow, our personal worlds will be better places. And as all of our personal worlds collide online, in the grocery store, in church, and on the street, the good in us is going to overcome the bad in the world.

Don’t believe me? Try it. I’m going to. 🙂

So what do you think? Am I crazy? Have I made a career-destroying decision? Or do you think I’m on the right track?

Looking Back to Look Forward

It’s getting to be that time again. Even if you don’t do New Year’s Resolutions yourself, you know a ton of people who do. It’ll be all over the news soon about how we make goals and then don’t follow through.

Turn off the TV when they say that last part. You know that what you say to yourself, what you listen to and allow into your head, these are the things your brain and body will follow. No matter what time of year it is, you have to believe you can accomplish your goals to have any chance of doing so.

I find that the easiest way to figure out where I want to go next is to look back and see where I’ve been. Life almost never goes in a straight line (it took me awhile, but I finally figured that out), but the curves and circular routes will generally tell us something about  ourselves that we can use to apply to the future, or to change.

As I usually do, I’m going to spend the rest of December thinking about these things. I’ll share my thoughts on what I find on Mondays. I’d love to hear what you discover, too. What have we accomplished that we want to do more of? What do we want to do less of? How do we want to grow, and what do we want to learn?

Most importantly, what two or three things will we focus on this year? If we only focus on a few things, we have a much greater chance of succeeding!

Let’s all think about it for a week and come back next Monday to share what we’ve found. I think 2013 is going to be an amazing year!

What Are Your Goals For the Rest of the Year?

I wrote what turned out to be a very long post over on Routines for Writers today on goal-setting. More specifically, it was about setting up a system for meeting your goals. I thought it might be useful to share it here, tweaked a bit so that it applies to almost any area of your life.

Routines

You already have some routines in your life – you eat, shower, brush your teeth, sleep several hours a night, and spend many hours each day similarly (work, taking care of kids, writing, etc.). If you have a personal goal – like, for me, running a half marathon in January – you have some routines that are helping you reach that goal.

These routines are good. They help wire your brain in such a way that the things you do become easier, and sometimes they don’t even require much thought. (Though I did nearly put face soap on my toothbrush because I was thinking so hard about something else!)

Your self-talk is also a routine. What are you saying to yourself? “I’ll never be able to do this”? Then you probably won’t succeed. “One step at a time”? There’s a good chance you’ll make it.

Think about the routines you have, and the routines you need to accomplish some of your goals, then write them down.

Periodic Reevaluations

Writing down your goals is an important step. Occasionally reading what you wrote down and checking to see how far you’ve come is another great step. Are you closer or further from your goal today? What can you do differently?

I decided that I wanted to lose 20 pounds before my next race in January. We don’t have a scale, so part of my routine is checking out the size of my belly every day and wondering/hoping. Another part is to step on a scale when I’m near one. One scale said I’d lost a pound; later a different scale said I’d gained four.

What I really need is to use the same scale at the same time of day with the same amount of clothes on. But I can tell you for sure that I’m not even close to the 20 pounds yet. That leads to the next point.

Willingness to Change

I wrote down that I wanted to lose 20 pounds, and I periodically checked to see how far I’ve gotten. I found that I needed to make some changes in order to make my goal. I know what some of the changes are because I’ve been successful in the past: eat smaller portions, eat less sugar, chew gum or drink water when I feel the need to stress eat, drink water when I feel like snacking for the sake of snacking.

But now I need to change. I need to not only be willing to do the above, I need to follow through and do it.

This may mean going back to Step 1, Routines, and making the changes there. I’ll make a routine out of what I eat for breakfast and lunch, then routinely ask myself if I’m actually hungry at dinner, and routinely cut my dinner in half and only eat the second half if I’m still genuinely hungry. I know this because I’ve done it before and it worked. I just have to be willing to do it again.

Decide Now to Keep Going Later

Sometimes the toughest thing to do is not quit. I felt that way about my writing when my mom was sick and then died. I wanted to keep up with my career even as I was feeling lost trying to find a new “normal” in life.

When it comes to weight loss, I have allowed too much self-talk to tell me I’m not going to succeed – even though that’s crap and a lie! I know I can lose weight because I’ve done it before. I know I can run a half marathon because I’ve done it before. So I have to decide in advance what I’m going to do when I feel like not running, or like eating ice cream.

If you have a plan, you will be less likely to be completely derailed. Since John and I began Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, we have found it much easier to stay on track with our budget and say no to non-budgeted items because we have a plan. Even if we take a step backwards in money management or running or weight loss, we know how to get back on track.

What goals did you want to accomplish by the end of this year? Try going through these steps to get on track and stay on track. Or for more detailed examples, check out my longer post on Routines for Writers. And good luck!