Tag Archives: goal setting

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!

Ending on a High Note is a Huge Blessing

Hand pushing the restart buttonI just finished typing up my 2016 End of Year Report for my writing life and my personal life. It was not surprising to me how many low points there were last year. But, as is often the case, writing down everything that happened reminded me that there were a lot more positives than I remembered.

Financially, mentally and emotionally, and in most aspects of my business life, 2016 was among the worst in years. I missed most of the goals I set for myself last year. But there were a lot of spiritual, relational, and physical highlights that bear repeating.

When I challenged myself to lose 50 pounds in 50 weeks, and write a weekly blog post detailing my journey, despite everything I was able to lose 25 pounds. In my experience, that is no small feat.

Me in a swimsuit Oct 6 – first time I’d gotten into this suit in four years!

I can’t say for sure what my spiritual life was really like, only God knows, but I strongly suspect that I was growing deeper roots through all the troubles and challenges of last year. I don’t know if there were very many blooms for others to see, I don’t remember seeing them in myself, but I do believe my relationship with God is stronger than ever. And that’s worth a lot!

Relationally, it was a good year. Despite rarely being able to see my friends in person, I was able to keep up some amazing relationships, both encouraging and being encouraged by some of the best people on this planet. Despite the fact that 2016 might have been the worst year in John’s and my life, he and I stayed tight, and continued to have an amazing relationship. This, too, I attribute entirely to God, without whom we never would’ve made it through last year.

The year ended with two huge blessings! The legal side of John’s motorcycle accident from 2014 was finally settled. What a huge weight off our shoulders! And then – drumroll, please – God blessed John with his dream job! He accepted a position at Weta Digital and we moved to Wellington, New Zealand in November!

Standing in front of our new home in Wellington

For me, the cherry on top was being able to rent a cute little beach house right on the water where I can look out the window every day while I’m writing and see the ocean and hear the waves. Especially after the last few years of hardships, this seems an amazing and entirely undeserved blessing that I feel the need to thank God for every single day!

Are you wondering yet why I shared my end of year report with you? It may seem a little too personal to some of you, or a little to dry to others. But last year was a really tough year for us, and I didn’t expect to find much good in it looking back. But look at the surprises I found! I hope you take this as encouragement to look back over your 2016 and see how many other blessings you forgot you had last year.

I hope it takes your breath away!

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?

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!

Gazelle Intensity

I almost can’t believe it, but I met four deadlines last month! I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my writing life. Maybe the only time I’ve accomplished so much in such a short space of time is for school/college. But the point is – I did it.

What I learned from that experience is that I can do more than I think I can. Past experience may tell me that I can’t – until I make an experience that tells me I can. What I have to be careful of is thinking I can always get this much work done. It would be foolish of me to think I can work 10-16 hours a day, six days a week, for an infinite amount of time. For one thing, there is no time for friends or family, little time for exercise or healthy habits, and almost no time for fun.

However, last month I reminded myself that I can work very intensely and accomplish a lot in short bursts. Life is a marathon, and the writing life is a marathon, but sprints are useful and appropriate. (In my half marathon training, I use short sprints in training.)

John and I are participating in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a money management course designed to get you out of debt and keep you out forever. In one of the lessons, Dave shows a video of a leopard chasing a gazelle. Even though the leopard can run faster than the gazelle, the gazelle got away! Why? Because the gazelle could make quick leaps out of the leopard’s path faster than he could move to intercept. The gazelle only has to keep this up for a short intense period until the leopard gives up and looks for easier prey.

Dave suggests we use this method to get out of debt. A short, intense burst of effort to pay off everything from credit cards to student loans to the balance on your mortgage. I listen to his radio podcast and people call in saying they’ve just paid off their last debt. Dave asks them how much they paid off and how long it took, then they give their debt free scream. It’s very inspiring! People are getting out of debt to the tune of $20,000 to $158,000 (that I’ve heard) in 12-48 months. John and I will be right in that range, and it’s exciting to know it can be done.

That’s what I learned last month with my writing deadlines. I focused like I have rarely focused before on one project, then another, then another, then another. And I got them all done, on time. I had hoped that on November 2, I would be able to sleep in, read a little, take a deep breath, and go back to a more relaxed lifestyle. But I still have four more time-sensitive projects to finish. At first, that made me feel super tired just thinking about it. Then I remembered the gazelle intensity speech.

I can’t keep up this pace forever, but I can do it for four more weeks. As one friend reminded me on November 2 when I was trying to figure out if I could do all this, I can’t “catch up” on everything that didn’t get done over the last year. But I can pick the most important things to finish now, and re-schedule my other goals for 2013.

National Novel Writing Month is about gazelle intensity. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are finding it can work for their writing life. But it works in every area of life. What do you really need to get done? Not just urgent things, but important things. Piles of paperwork? Haphazard, overcrowded home? Behind in something you could finish if you just really applied yourself for a few weeks?

Think about it and decide what you’re going to do about it. In the end, you’ll not only have accomplished something wonderful, and maybe done something about those monkeys on your back, but you’ll find pleasure in your own personal growth as self-discipline blooms in your life.

I’m nervous about failure, about exhaustion, about missing out on fun things other people are doing, but last month I proved that it can be done! So I’m going to keep it up for another month. See you at the finish line!

[Note: If you want more encouragement and direction in planning your goals for 2013, join me for my online class Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. Here’s to a fabulous and productive new 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.


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!

What I’m Writing for NaNo 2011

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

I’ve decided!! Woo-hooo!! I’m so excited – and relieved – that I finally know what I’m going to do starting next Tuesday!

For maybe a year or more, my writing friend Betsy and I have been having these great Monday meetings to decide on our goals for the week. At the last several, we’ve talked about – among other things – whether we were going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year and, if so, what we would work on.

I think this week, with great trepidation, we’ve decided! Betsy is going to work on a project she’s been excited about and thinking about for a few years. She’s nervous because it’s going to take a fair amount of research, but it may be the easiest of her choices to keep up the 1667 words needed every day.

I don’t like writing every day, particularly because the weekends are when John and I spend the bulk of our time together. So I divide the 50,000 words into 21 days – no weekends, and no Thanksgiving writing. That means I have to write an average of 2381 words per day.

I had three projects I was thinking of – the second draft of the next romantic comedy I’m going to self-publish, a short story that will be out in an anthology next year, and an ebook on the business of writing. None of them need 50,000 words written. Then Betsy suggested I do more than one project.

I remembered Shonna did this last year or the year before. She finished her children’s book by the middle of the month, and decided to write another one. (Shonna, isn’t that the year you “won” NaNo?) I’d thought then what a great idea it was when Shonna did it, and now I’m excited to try it myself.

So then Betsy helped me decide what order to do everything. The short story can be 5000-20,000 words and has an absolute deadline, so I’m going to work on that one first. (And I finally figured out part of the plot! That’s been worrying me for weeks!)

Then I’m going to break my how-to books into two separate ebooks – one on the business of writing, one on the specifics of self-publishing. I’ll keep working on them until either NaNo ends, or I get to 50,000 words or – if my fingers are flying and I’m not packing to move – I’ll start working on the second draft of that romantic comedy.

Whew! That took a lot of wrestling to figure out! It’s not usually that hard for me because I never used to work on more than one project at a time. But the 18 months of grad school made juggling projects a necessity, and now I can use that new skill in my career.

I’m happy because the planner has a plan! Woo-hooo! I think I’m going to get that cute word counter going again this year – if I can just remember to keep updating it.

What about you? Have you decided if you’re going to participate this year, and what you’ll work on? Or are you going to wait until the last minute? Either way, let’s have fun!

What Should I Work On Next?

On Wednesdays, I’ll cross-post my blog from Routines for Writers here…

This time of year I’m always thinking about what I’m going to work on next. Will I sign up for NaNoWriMo? Will I write something new or edit something I need to finish? If you’re like my friend Betsy, you might be wondering if you should work on a new novel (she’s nearly finished with the latest one) or should she work on a nonfiction book idea she’s had for years?

As soon as she said “nonfiction,” I was all but jumping around in my chair. I self-published my first novel and will self-publish more over the next few months. But I’ve also got a few nonfiction book ideas that I can’t wait to write and self-publish as ebooks. If you didn’t know it already, word on the ‘Net is that you can make more money with nonfiction books right now than with fiction. You can not only sell more copies, you can set a higher price point.

One of the books I want to write is how to properly run your writing business. And from a business standpoint, it would be a good idea for me to intersperse nonfiction books in among the fiction books in my product line. So taking my own advice, I should be thinking long and hard about writing the business book during NaNo.

Yes, it’s National Novel Writing Month. But wasn’t the point to set aside time to do something we never take time to do? Something we want to do and believe we might be good at? Something we think we’d really enjoy?

Betsy hasn’t done NaNo before and she asked me how I make up my mind when deciding which project to work on. I told her about how much fun it is to get inspiring emails from famous authors every week, how much I love competing with my friends when I see they’ve only written a few hundred words more than me, and watching the little graph grow as I write more. The encouragement, and the worldwide energy, those are the reasons I love signing up for NaNo.

So I told Betsy that she should write the book that she needs the most encouragement on. Work on the book that you most need that extra energy to get you through the first draft.

Remember my am-I-or-aren’t-I-going-to-move predicament? If you have something like that in your life, another way to decide which book to work on is to ask yourself which one will be less stressful for you. I don’t know how much I’ll get done in November if I have to move across the ocean. But one way or another, I have to keep doing all the business “stuff” that small business owners have to do. Plus I’m teaching my goal setting and time management class for writers again in January, and I’m adding in information on running your small business. So making notes and writing about what I’m doing and what experts suggest will actually help keep me focused. It will help me to pull several similar strands together so that when I’m working on one thing, I’m actually getting several things done.

If I have enough time, I might just work on both books! I’ll write on my novel in the morning, and the business book in the afternoon. After all, small business owners learn how to multi-task in ways that work for their personalities as well as their businesses. Yup, the more I think about it, the more I’m considering that last option. I guess I’ll decide for sure when I know if I have to make time for packing, too! 🙂