December 26, 2017Goals

Do you watch soccer? I don’t, but I remember when I lived Prague in 1994 there would be soccer matches on TV at some of the bars I used to frequent and I’d hear “Goal!” when the home team scored. This isn’t about soccer, but about my goals for 2018 and two new tools I discovered to help me achieve them.

Over the years, I’ve written about my love of planners. I buy them with the very best of intentions only to abandon them a few months down the road. Why? I wish I knew the answer. Could it be because I don’t like that much structure? Or is it possibly I don’t know how to properly create goals (either too broad or too ambitious?) or perhaps I haven’t found the right planner that suits both my aesthetic and practical needs?

Looking back at last year, I bought the Planner Pad, which is more task and appointment oriented and three other planners for well-being, fitness and nutrition, and business (yes, I went overboard) to set goals and actions. By April it all petered out. In part because I became consumed with anxiety concerning my health, and the ownership status of the Land Rover.

Now that I know I won’t die and that the Land Rover is no longer a concern, I can once again focus on setting and achieving goals. Am I buying more planners? No. Two of the planners didn’t get much use and because they’re undated I can still use them for 2018. My Planner Pad still has about six months left that can be used for this new year.

I’ve noticed when I actually jot down my tasks and appointments—as opposed to keeping them all in my head—I am productive and efficient. I like to list what needs to be done and to see each task crossed out after I complete it. This year, apart from the unused portion of the planners, I want to see how productive I can be by two using digital tools: OmniFocus and Goalscape.

In the next few weeks, I’ll offer tutorials on how to use both applications plus share my progress with my own goals. In the meantime, my big goal for the remaining five days of 2017 is to not sweat the small stuff. See you in 2018!

Belated Happy New Year!

February 1, 2014Goals

Belated Happy New Year. Yes, one month late but I have a good excuse: I’ve been busy. Annus Horibilis 2013 ended on a high note with several paid projects, and now following the lead of my friend and Pitches & Plots co-moderator Jo Eberhardt, who published her goals for 2014 two weeks ago, I thought I would follow suit.

Simply Scrivener

A goal that placed high on my 2014 bucket list was to expand the Simply Scrivener blog by offering classes. These could be one-on-one tutorials, coaching or even a group class. Well, scratch the goal of the list because it’s happening. Come April, I’ll be teaching an online Beginners Scrivener class that is hosted by the Colorado Romance Writers, a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. How did this come about? A recommendation from Gwen Hernandez. Yep, the Scrivener Heavyweight champ and my former instructor. I was so flattered and verklempt she recommended me. Thank you, Gwen! If you want to take the class, let me know. I will provide you with more details and where to go to sign up.  And if that isn’t enough good news, I’ll be doing another webinar for SCBWI that’s dedicated to Scrivener.

Hello Adirondacks!

I’ve suspected for a few months that our lease wouldn’t be renewed. That suspicion materialized the same day I had my call with the program coordinator from the Colorado Romance Writers. It seems our the landlady wants to renovate the cottage and use it herself during the summers.

Where to go? Would the Ol’ Man and I find another place here at the beach or go somewhere entirely new? I’ve been hankering to go to New England. I want something that’s private, secluded. In the woods and quiet. No neighbors who can’t seem to get enough of their lawn mowers, leaf blowers, saws, etc. No more lawn crews, no more screaming children, or weekend summer people who drive down the private road at 60 miles per hour. I want to find a place where I can blend in with nature, take long walks and think, something Waldenesque. Found. Our new home is in the Adirondacks. From the seaside, now I’m off to the mountains! The house is charming perfect for “artistes” and it ha all my requirements. ETA is March 15th!

Becoming Vegan

For years I’ve contemplated to stop eating meat and become a bonafide vegetarian, and I am achieving that thanks to some digestive issues. I can no longer consume dairy products. Saying good-bye to milk, half-and-half, cream, ice cream was not difficult especially when the result is no more wicked acid reflux. I’m still eating miniscule portions of cheese and a little butter, but that will be eliminated shortly. Why go vegan? I’ve watched too many documentaries of how industrial fram animals are treated and simply want no part of it. And now that I’ll have a garden to grow vegetables why not just take advantage of eating my own home-grown produce?

Finishing Julius

I managed to finish the last part of the story, but I am still muddling my way through the middle. The goal was to finish by late spring, but with the move and settling in to the new house, I’ll have to push that back to end of summer. I think it’s realistic and I hope to iron out some of the major wrinkles in the story, and leads me to…I am working with the wonderful Cathy Yardley, author of Rock Your Plot. Come April, I’ll be getting some coaching from Cathy to help me tighten the plot.

Work and other Projects

Because I work from home, I’m fortunate to be able to continue with HAND/EYE Magazine as well as Get Red PR. But now I have to be even more aggressive in finding more writing jobs. A week prior to moving, I will be sending letters of introduction to all the publications in the region, as well as contacting the local community college to see if I can teach a few classes. In terms of projects, I was recently offered to be part of Writer Unboxed’s Twitter Team. Once again I am flattered that I was considered to be part of a great group of supportive and talented writers.

So that’s a quick summary of what’s been going on and my goals for 2014. It has started out with a bang and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that these next eleven months are just as eventful.

A Still Mind

January 1, 2013Goals

New Hampshire Sunrise_SnapseedIt’s the first day of a new year and I’ve made some very ambitious goals that focus on body and intellect. First, because I am not getting any younger, I have to seriously watch what I eat and exercise.

Last year, I managed to reach my heaviest weight and it took me four months to lose ten pounds. Part of the reason—and I noticed the error of my ways—was that although I was eating healthy, my portions were still too big, and I was exercising so hard (burning over 1,000 calories) per session that I was eating back what I burned. This whole idea that you can eat back what you burned in nothing but a big burlap sack of horse manure. Yes, you need to fuel your body but you need a deficit to lose the blubber.

Okay, tangent there, this is isn’t a fitness blog (which incidentally, I will revive the one I have so I can bone up on writing articles for nutrition and fitness. That one is www.fitandsvelte.com.)

But this whole weight thing does preoccupy me quite a bit because there are moments that I feel like sludge is leaving a slimy trail through my cardio-vascular system to eventually settle in my brain and voilà—a stroke. That’s the worst case scenario, but it’s a focus issue, an overall feeling blah and that I’m not one hundred percent putting my mental energy into productive work.

Years and years ago, I used to be fidgety. I was that person at the movie theater or in the classroom who couldn’t stay still. I shifted in my seat, twisted a strand of hair, bounced my leg up and down, fiddled with pens. You know the type—lots of nervous energy that could have been used more productively. Apart from distracting my classmates, teachers, and friends, it started to get to me. So I made the decision that I would break myself of the habit and force myself to be still. It took about a month, but I did it. And what I noticed was that I became more focused.

So what does this have to do anything? It’s all about will power and putting it to use. I don’t fidget anymore, but in the middle of a project I will check email and Facebook, go to the kitchen for a coffee refill, allow myself to be interrupted to do some task that the other person can easily do himself. It’s mental fidgeting, if you think about it. So this year, it’s learning to still the mind—ignore the call of email and social media, barking dogs, ringing phones, personal requests, and coffee hankerings.

There’s no question that it will be hard at first. As I write this Mr. Bessie is barking, the Ol’ Man cleaned out the fireplace and is cursing, the email alert chimed and I’ve checked it at least twice. But like a meditation practice, each time I start a project I’ll be able to shut out the distractions for longer periods of time and actually finish what I start.