New Year’s Eve Goal Review December 31, 2010
Sacrificial Rites & Perfecting Priorities November 19, 2010
I’ve been working on a submission and believe me, my derriere feels the pain. So do my hands! Oh, the nails that once were long and beautiful are short little stubs. And I don’t even want to discuss the hangnails. They are the bane of my existence. But sacrifices must be made in order to achieve my goals.
Here are some of the easier sacrifices I make when I am working toward a deadline:
1-Cooking? What’s that? People, people in the house. Find a pop tart and deal.
2-Cleaning the bathrooms. A little bleach in the bowl goes a LONG way.
3-Why clean floors when they are just going to get dirty again?
4-Unimportant phone calls aren’t answered–I’m talking the solicitation kind.
5-Social media is put on the back burner (but I still check occasionally)
6-Makeup? Hair? What? I’m a writer, not a movie star.
7-Ironing. Like that was hard haha.
8-Menu planning. Isn’t that why frozen lasagna and pizza were invented? To ease my life?
9-Kitty litter scooping–someone else can do it for a change.
10-Watching television–thank goodness for the DVR and taping shows!
But in the midst of making sacrifices, I also know there are some things that cannot be ignored. Here are some priorities I keep no matter what, or who, is demanding my time:
1-Grocery shopping. Apparently food must be in the house even if it is a frozen pizza.
2-Laundry. Clean clothes are a must even if I am not a movie star.
3-Care and feeding of the cats–someone has to keep DFC full on Beechnut Organic baby food.
4-Sleeping. Can’t write if my brain is dead.
5-Eating. Can’t write if my tummy is rumbling.
6-Exercise. Must remain healthy and strong if I am going to keep on writing.
7-Being available to my closest friends in their times of need (friends are forever).
8-Spending time with my Darling Husband. After all, he’s my first hero.
9-A modicum of social time cause I can’t thrive without people contact.
10-Being available to my Darling Teenager in times of stress and in times of jubilation.
Tip: know your priorities and then you’ll know what you can give up to achieve your goals.
What sacrifices are you making to achieve your goals? What are your top priorities and why?
Rewards & Positive Reinforcement–Even When You Don’t Succeed November 12, 2010
I didn’t grow up in a household where there were a lot of rewards for good behavior. And we sure weren’t rewarded for trying to be good either. So I came to this little idea of rewarding myself for not succeeding very slowly.
Apparently cleaning bathrooms after finishing a major project is not considered a reward. This is how well-trained I was not to get something good even when I deserved it for all my hard work.
But that is just stinky. Literally. Who wants to clean house after they’ve finished a paper, written a book, painted a picture, applied for graduate school, graduated from college, and the list goes on. I’ve learned to give myself breaks, but I had to teach myself to give myself rewards.
Kelly L. Stone articulated that precept for me at the GRWA Moonlight & Magnolias Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. She gave me a few new ideas about how to reward myself while I am working toward a goal. I came home from the conference and implemented one. A successful author pays herself a quarter every time she meets her word count for the day. I decided to make a Reward Jar and got $20 in quarters to fill it.
Note: It’ll take a LOT of those rolls to fill my cutesy decorated tin can!
Any rate, I modified the reward system to include meeting every goal I set for the day as a writer (I might add exercise to that because I have been slacking off–which is a post for another day). So if my goal was to get a submission ready, a contest entry ready, a chapter read in my media book by Kristen Lamb, or my homework completed in the Alexandra Sokoloff online workshop I’m taking then I drop a quarter into the jar every time I meet the goal.
Another thing I’ve done is reward myself for having tried and failed. As a writer I must put myself out there all the time with query letters, sending out partials, full manuscripts and entering contests. I am not really into the administrative end of this business, so it is like poking a fork into my eyeball to do these things. I’d rather write my stories or blog than do it. Seriously. But the work must be done. The possibility of rejections must be faced.
So here’s how I cope. First, I get a quarter for completing the task. Then I devised a system for rewarding myself if I didn’t get the answer I wanted (BIG YES or YOU FINALED!!). I pay myself for not getting those answers. Yup. Now these numbers can be adjusted to be coins, less money, more money, Hershey’s kisses–you get the picture.
Here’s my payment scale:
Rejected Query? $1
Rejected Partial? $5
Rejected Full? $20
Didn’t Final in a Contest? $5
So last week I didn’t final in a contest. BOO. That stinks. I was down in the Personal Pity Party dumps. But then I remembered I got to pay myself $5 for not finaling. That brought a smile to my face. Yay! I put all the money I pay myself into a pretty box on a shelf in my office. It’s up to you where you put your money (or Hershey’s kisses). I am saving the quarters till I have too many to count, rolling them and putting them in the box as well.
What am I saving this money for? Anything to do with my writing–nice dress for an awards ceremony, shoes, dinner with writing friends, etc.
Now if you’re not a writer and you’re pursuing another goal or dream, you can modify this little reward system to suit your dream’s not-so-happy days. For instance, if you are trying to get into university you can pay yourself for every application you send (a quarter cause those apps are expensive), for every study session you take for the SAT/ACT, for every interview you go on, for every college you tour, and for every good grade (say a B or better).
But hey? What if the college doesn’t accept you? What will you pay yourself for trying so you’ll try again?
See? This system takes the sting out of not getting what you want and gives you motivation to try again.
Try it. In fact, give yourself a quarter for reading this blog today!
Positive Peer Pressure October 29, 2010
You’ve embarked on a journey toward a goal. One you believe in and want to achieve. You tell someone about your dream. That person laughs, asks if you are crazy, rains on your parade and tell you it is unattainable.
Now, if you are a 70 year old and you’ve just told your wife you’re thinking about becoming a circus high wire act despite the fact that you have no coordination then you might deserve the above scenario.
Yes, dreams should be realistically attainable.
If your dream is realistically attainable, and someone in your life says you shouldn’t try to attain this dream, then you need reevaluate your relationship with that person.
Tip for the Day: Surround yourself with positive, supportive people as you pursue your dream.
I wrote about my own journey from solitary writer to writer with a wealth of support here. I’ve heard the negative comments. One close relative said “you’ll never get published” when I told her I was writing a book. Do I share my dreams with her now? No way because I believe I will get that call. But it’s more than my own faith in my dream. I want the people in my life to be excited for me because I’m doing something I love. It feeds my soul in ways that I never expected. The end result? Publication? That’s just part of the dream. I am living my dream. I am a writer. I write. I am happy because I am writing.
Here’s the thing: people who are negative about your dreams and your goals aren’t happy so they don’t want you to be happy either.
Trust me. I’ve learned this lesson and it has served me well. I repeat: when someone is mean or nasty to you and rains on your parade it is because that person doesn’t want you to be happy and fulfilled.
I am writing because it brings me joy. Sure there are days that I want to drop kick my laptop to the ends of the earth. I get frustrated. I feel the sting of rejection and throw personal pity parties (for a finite amount of time), but I keep on writing because that is when my positive community of support comes into play. These are the people who remind me about how much fun it is to do what I do. They encourage me. They lift my spirits. They make me laugh. They drink wine and eat dark chocolate with me while they tell me YOU WILL SUCCEED.
Surround yourself with positive peers who celebrate your dream and encourage you to keep working hard to attain the prize you seek. These are the people who must be in your world as you pursue your dreams. They are the people who want you to be happy and fulfilled. They are the people who want you to have joy in your life.
And when you reach your dream? They will be first in line to celebrate your victory!
Busy-ness Can Lead to Dizzy-ness June 9, 2010
People’s lives are busy. Some people actually define their lives by saying, “I’m so busy, or too busy or these are busy days.” They revel in the busy-ness of their lives. They revel in the going out and about to do a zillion errands, or projects, or luncheons. They revel in being seen as “busy.” Busy-ness defines their lives.
But sometimes I wonder if these people who are so “busy” are actually just avoiding themselves. Avoiding personal introspection. Avoiding examining who they are or where they need to go. Other times I wonder if these busy people are busy because it makes them feel important. The busy-ness defines them.
Ever met somebody like that? I’ve met a few. I may have actually been guilty of committing the act of “busy-ness” myself. Heck, I was young once. I did my fair share and plus of extra work when I was employed outside the home and afterward. I remember an incredibly intense time after I became a mom where I spent about 6 or 7 years volunteering in the school, the church, the neighborhood–basically did it all. For free. But then I think part of my motivation was the free babysitting *grin*.
Yup. I was a “busy” person. And I knew a lot of “busy people.” It wasn’t until I was forced to sit down and take stock that I truly began my inner journey. I admit, I was a self-help book addict for years. Heck, with the crazy dysfunctional background I came from, who wouldn’t be? But I never really examined who I wanted to be until I couldn’t be out in the world being, well, you know, “busy.”
Yup. I couldn’t be busy cause I got this weirdo bug in my ear that made me dizzy. Beyond dizzy. I had a serious cases of perpetual vertigo. It was the kind of vertigo that made me sick, blackout, with tremenous heat and frightening moments of disorientation. And the only way to beat it back was to STOP BEING SO BUSY.
I was felled by a tiny bug in my inner ear for 6 MONTHS.
At first I was so sick, I didn’t have much energy. I napped. Unheard of in my house. I am a “get up and go” kinda girl. Naturally, after I had a few months of serious downtime, I got bored. You know boredom is actually not a bad thing. Boredom means you’re healing. Boredom means your mind is getting ready for the next creative adventure.
Now if a “get up and go” girl can’t really, uh, go anywhere in the real world, what is she going to do? Oh, hmmm, any good guesses out there? Oh, yeah. Write. And that is how I rediscovered what I know I was always meant to do. I began writing my first novel. It was an escape, a joyful experience, and I fell in love with my childhood dreams again.
That was a wonderful year. The said book was finished, queried and requested by Silhouette Desire BEFORE I even knew about RWA, CRAFT, ETC.
Fast forward almost five years. I’m still focused on the writing. I love it. I have four books under my belt (though I call them 8 given all the recent plot revisions) and I am submitting, being requested, and happily involved in all my RWA/PRO/Chapter organizations. I am also blogging, FaceBook connecting (imagine if they’d had facebook back when I first got DIZZY? I might not be writing cause I’d be “busy” connecting with my social network), TWEETING, helping with an online workshop, volunteering to help with the PRO Retreat, judging contests, entering contests…. YIKES! I am afraid I might get dizzy again.
And yes, before you ask, I am blond. Let the jokes begin and end now.
But I won’t get DIZZY. You know why I believe in my heart I won’t get dizzy? Because all my “busy” stuff is what I want to do for my career (and my family–which comes FIRST). I have learned the fine art of saying “no.” Or, better, “let me get back to you about that request after I think about it.” Or better yet, “I would like some help with this please.”
Most of all, I’ve given myself permission to walk away from my commitments and take a breath. When dinner starts, if the phone rings, I don’t answer it. Period. I keep my commitments to a set amount and I don’t feel obligated to be perfect (losing perfectionism is a great way to give up the “busy” life). I don’t say “yes” to make someone think better of me. And I don’t say “yes” to gain approval or puff up my ego. Frankly, I don’t consider saying “yes” to anything that does not reflect my Top 5 Priority List.
Ah, the Top 5 Priority List. I shared this list with you in January. I learned about this method of establishing boundaries from a LIFE MAKEOVER book I read when I was dizzy. I reevaluate it every quarter. Usually it stays the same, at least the top 2 items stay the same. The bottom 3 vary depending on season, where I am in my life, and how the rest of the family is faring.
But what is a priority? What does this word mean to you? Here is a brief dictionary explanation:
*A thing that is regarded as more important than another.
The housework didn’t figure high on her list of priorities.
Seriously? It never does figure high on my list of priorities. Sure I want to prevent my toilets from being deemed toxic & hazardous, but if my house is dirty and you want to come over cause you’re down or need a friendly face, I’m your girl!
*The fact or condition of being regarded or treated as important.
The safety of the country takes priority over every other matter.
Or, the health and welfare of my family, and myself, is regarded or treated as important. If I am trying to do too much, everyone suffers, including me.
*The right to take precedence or proceed before others.
Priority is given to those with press passes.
Now I love this. The items/things/people who take precedence or proceed before others in my life are my family first, my writing (actual writing, not blogging or stuff of that nature), my health, my dearest friends, my spirit and my soul. Everybody and everything else must wait in line. Period.
This getting your priorities straight isn’t a perfect process. Sometimes I revert and nibble a bit more off than I can chew. Usually the first thing that suffers is my health. So I get a pretty quick reminder to get my priorities sorted.
Ironically, my weirdest time to keep my priorities straight is through the summer months. I’ve got these writing goals, but I scale them back a bit, or make room for flexible writing time, during this time of year. Darling Daughter is underfoot, we’ve got summer travel plans, and I want to enjoy my family during these lazy days. I don’t stop writing, but I do break it up differently. And again, my priority is to work on my MS or WIP in Revision. If I’m not on Facebook or I miss a blog post, well that means I’m focusing on my first priority: health and happiness of my family. We’re probably at the pool, or shopping, or visiting some museum. And that’s okay.
That’s the key to maintaining your priorities and boundaries: telling yourself it’s okay to let something slide or go slack every once in a while. REALLY!
Drum Roll & Recap Roll May 24, 2010
This week, despite all the constant interruptions and distractions, I finished my second MAGGIE contest entry and sent it to the coordinator.
WOOT!! So relieved to get the entry completed and out of my hair.
Now my goals and tasks for the week are defined:
*continue revising & polishing with the new plot line in mind
*add scenes where necessary
*pull together my partial and send of the requested materials to the agent
*query two other publishing houses with my third MS
And I have some rewards to give myself for completing my arduous task:
*get my hair cut and highlighted *highly necessary*
*schedule some pampering time this week
*meet with a good friend who is also a writer and enjoy her company
When you finish a major task, do you reward yourself with something fun? I hope so! And if do, I’d love to learn how!