So in my last post, I spouted off a laundry list of things I would like to accomplish in 2019. I can tell you that I’m already a few weeks into working this list and can already feel the pressure building. I promised myself that I would continue to keep my 2018 theme word – Balance in the forefront of my mind while working toward my goals. The pressure I am starting to feel is where my 2019 theme word comes into play – Patience.
I have a lot of plans for this year and am up for the challenge, but I will need to go easy on myself as well. Being patient with myself will allow me to focus on what needs to be done but still find time to do fun stuff with the people I love, giving me the balance I worked so hard to obtain in 2018. So while I found a resolution list (or treasure map as I like to call it) fits the bill, there are definitely Pros as well as Cons associated with this kind of exercise.
So, First the Pros:
- Motivation – Having a list of things I hope to achieve keeps me moving forward and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can check them off. There is nothing more satisfying than a line going through an item on my list, especially if it has been there a while! I have a treasure map taped to the back of my door listing all the things I want to bring into my life, both physically and spiritually. It is a daily reminder of the path I am taking and a wonderful visual reinforcement of those ideas. If I am having a particularly down day, I go back to an older treasure map and look at all of the things that I’ve accomplished or brought into my life to date. It does wonders to get me in the right frame of mind since I have really managed to accomplish quite a bit in the last 5 years! Go me!
- Organization – The list of resolutions keeps me organized, and while there was no need for it about two decades ago, I am finding that I definitely need it now! I have lists all over the place, lists listing my lists if we are being honest, but trust me they work! They give me an end goal to strive for, and when that particular goal is met, I treat myself! I am also in the process of creating an office space for myself since the business of book writing has its own mound of paperwork to deal with. Because I am a one-woman show, I need to be sure that everything is in its place so I can work more efficiently. Having a designated space to do business in, allows me to put myself in that frame of mind when I enter the space, as its a visual clue to me that it’s time to get busy. When spending time with my family, I can shut the door and keep the business stuff from creeping out into other parts of my life.
- Focus – I could easily spend days binge-watching any number of series that have caught my eye, but my resolution list is a reminder to stay focused and keep plugging toward my end goal. I started my writer journey later in life, so there’s added pressure for me to get the stories out that I feel need to be told. There are days I take a break, don’t get me wrong, but the reminder that I want something greater for myself is sometimes enough to pull the laptop out and allow the words to flow. I’ve done some of my best writing on the days that I least expected it, and having focus and drive has challenged me to become better than I was the day before. For me, that is what matters, I am a lifelong learner big time!
And now the Cons:
- Pressure – When I write down and achieve my goals, there are always more to take their place. Another challenge to rise to, another story to be told. The pressure I put on myself isn’t to be rich or famous (although that would be completely fine and I would welcome it with open arms) it is to keep striving to be better than I was the day before. It can be admirable, but it can also be exhausting, and I need to be tuned into myself to know when to rein things in. I have been known to overdo, just ask anyone that knows me, and I learned the hard way with a big C diagnosis that I need to be kinder to myself. It was the primary reason for my theme word Balance, a word that I spent a lot of time thinking about as I plotted and wrote the Power of Four series. At its core, the entire series is about balance and what can happen if things get out of whack. When things in my life get really lopsided, I thank the stars that I have my BFFs to jump in and save me from myself. I’m not quite sure where I would be without them and I hope that everyone has someone like them that you can count on. They are life savers!
- Self-Doubt – Some of the goals, when I write them down, are pie-in-the-sky-never-going-to-achieve-them kind of goals. Then the doubt creeps in. It takes everything I have to take that self-doubt by the neck and choke her until she shuts up. Well, I don’t really, but you know what I mean. Everyone needs to start somewhere, and the only way we learn and get better is to practice. For writing, that means finishing something, putting it out there, and then working on the next thing. You learn so much by putting your creative babies out there and being open to what the world has to say about them. To be honest, some of it has hurt, which is definitely when the self-doubt kicks in, but most of it has been extremely helpful for me. It allows me to learn from my mistakes and move forward. It is all in how you look at it. I don’t have time to wallow in self-pity…I’ve got shit to do! Remember, I started this journey much later than some of you youngins!
- Feelings of Failure – This goes along with self-doubt and imposter syndrome, and while I still have waves of it, they aren’t as frequent as they used to be. I’ve come a long way since 2015 when I started this journey and I believe that being of the mindset that the only person I am competing against is myself has really helped. I know my first stories won’t be as good as my latest, and that is just fine. I am proud to show my growth as an author and I can’t wait to try out different techniques and genres that have been calling out to me. The Power of Four was a series written in 3rd person close with multiple POVs, the book I just finished was 1st person with only one POV. I want to learn, and part of that is not getting comfortable in any one thing. Feelings of failure will naturally follow me anytime I learn something new, but I’m a quick learner so mastering it enough to move on never takes me long.
So while Motivation, Organization, and Focus are wonderful benefits in making New Year’s resolutions, the downside is when they are broken and you allow the Pressure, Self-Doubt and Feelings of Failure to sneak in. These things can only be stopped by embracing your strengths and weaknesses. What it boils down to for me is the Greek aphorism “know thyself.” Once you have a handle on what you can rely on yourself for, it removes all of the stress of the unknown and allows you to move forward with purpose.
I have spent a lot of time this year trying new ways of fitting writing in, using new techniques I had never considered, even committing to writing time and working it into my weekly calendar just like a doctor’s appointment. What it has taught me is that if push comes to shove, I can write a book in two months. That the early morning hours are best for my creative writing, and later in the day is best for marketing. And that there are so many people out there that are in the same boat as me that are willing to lend a hand with the paddling when my arms get tired.
Whatever you have decided for your resolutions, if you made them, please be kind to yourself. It is what I promised to do since, you know, life has a funny way of getting in the way and stopping up the works. Goals can be reset, they can be stretched, they can be forgotten, but your wellbeing is not something that you should take for granted. Taking clues from your body is something that goes hand in hand with “know thyself,” and by being a little patient and bringing balance into your life, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish!
Good luck on your goals and see you this time next year to compare notes! Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and productive 2019! XO