Today’s all about setting up my calendar. I have a spreadsheet prepared with all the work I hope to complete. I know I’ll be deleting things as I run into snags, but I always like to plan “big”. Here’s a little snippet from my annual plan.
I know, it looks very confusing. January is cram-jammed: a Montana Bounty Hunter to wrap up, another to start. I have to read Cowboy anthology stories and write my own. I hope to begin my next SEALs in Paradise story, or at the very least, have an idea what it’s going to be about! And I hope to write a little Love in Lockdown Valentines Day story. We’ll see. My weekly plan has more down-to-earth goals and considerations, like helping kids with online school, etc.
But I do love the start of a new year. Love, love, love seeing all those colors lined up, one project after another. Tomorrow, I start the real work—the writing!
I hope you all enjoy your holiday. The entire family here managed to stay up until midnight. The kids toasted with sparkling apple cider. The adults drank champagne. Today, everyone slept in late. 🙂
My dd and I were up early, starting breakfast, then we began our chores. Mid-day, I was ready to do one last run through my schedule and update my planner. I’m ready for tomorrow! What are you doing this first day of 2021?
I won’t be raising a glass tonight. I’m not much of a drinker. However, I will be burning sage and a handwritten note wishing only good things for the New Year. 2020 has been such a powerful mix of horror and happiness that I’m ambivalent about its ending. Let me explain.
The year started with the death of my mother in January. That was bad enough and required a lot of adjustment. My dd and her family moved into our family home, and we’ve been unpacking and decorating, and making this place into OUR home.
The pandemic has, of course, dominated the year. Like many, many people, our family hunkered down, starting in March, unsure of what the future held. When the initial lockdown ended, we enrolled all four kids in online instruction. We’ve masked, done no traveling, and ordered our groceries for curbside pickups. We’ve watched the news for every bit of new guidance regarding safety and shared what we learned. We’ve done our part and kept our loved ones safe. We’re crossing our fingers that we’ll be able to do the same in the new year.
All those things could have hung like a dark cloud over us. Instead, we’ve managed to find ways to make this time very special as a family. We make everything an event. We’ve learned to FaceTime with those we love. For example, a couple of nights ago, we “met” with my son and he participated while we went through destashing bags of old jewelry that I’ve collected from flea markets and eBay. We spent three hours online, laughing and trying things on.
My dd has thrown herself into new hobbies—like sign-making with her Cricut and creating book graphics for me for use on Instagram and Facebook. I threw myself into painting. We’re looking forward to re-opening my Etsy store in January with all-new offerings of art and jewelry. She’s experimented with new recipes for the fabulous meals she’s cooks.
We have movie nights, family game nights. In the summer, we spent many, many hours in the pool. We’ve all grown closer. Even the teenagers aren’t dark and gloomy about the prospect of another year of restrictions because we’ve put in the work to make this work.
So, we’re now a glass-half-full family. I hope that you’ve found your silver linings, too!
New Year’s Eve Puzzle Contest
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me how, or if, you’ll be celebrating tonight! Enjoy the puzzle!
UPDATE: The winner of the Amazon gift card is…Brenda Rumsey!
I bought this little brainstorming tool years ago at some writers’ conference. “Story Cubes” is a brainstorming game. You roll the dice and whatever pictures appear face-up are the ones you use to riff off a story. However, today, we’ll use the cubes to set goals for your New Year. Don’t take the challenge too seriously. Be as silly as you like. Have fun with this!
Here’s the roll…
Do any of these symbols tell you anything?
You can pick some or use all of them.
The prize, if you win this challenge, is a $5 Amazon gift card!
UPDATE: The winners are Sheryl Stark and Theresa Piper!
Does this picture stress you out? The Christmas tree branches beside the notes that will fill up a New Year’s resolutions list…?
My professional background, before I became a writer, was as a project/program manager. So, lists, plans, goals are kind of in my DNA. I know, I’m one of those people. A “To Do lister”, a planner. Not that having a plan guarantees I’ll follow it. Still, I love this time of year. The decorations are coming down. My “mind map” for the coming year’s work and personal goals is starting to take shape. For years, I ran online workshops, teaching other writers how to construct a mind map and a project plan to get them where they wanted to be. I kind of miss teaching, but a couple of years ago, I decided to pull back from online teaching. I wanted more “me” time.
However, I still do the planning—even if my plans go awry. Having a vision of what I want to achieve keeps me moving forward. Yes, my plans are less aggressive now. They allow for lots of downtime. This year will have even more, since we’re in the midst of the pandemic and this household has moved toward supporting the kids’ education from home. There won’t be any travel plans that include overnighters anywhere. If we can’t go somewhere that’s within a couple hours’ drive, and where we can keep isolated from other people, we’re not doing it. Yes, safety is part of this year’s plan. It wasn’t anywhere in last year’s goals but we adjusted rapidly. To me, that’s how plans roll. There has to be room for adjusting to unexpected events.
So, if the thought of planning your New Year’s goals doesn’t make you break out in hives, when do you begin? Have you been jotting down notes already? Do you have home improvement plans? Online classes you want to take? Places you want to visit (which I hope include safety measures!)? Work goals you want to strive to achieve?
Share a few of the things you have on your list or in your mind for a chance to win your choice of one of my downloadable stories! I will choose two winners!
I’m a planner by nature and education. I make lists. FOR EVERYTHING. That doesn’t mean I’m super-organized. It just means I track my achievements and know all too well where I fall short.
I teach a free goal-setting class every December to other authors, hoping that while I kick their butts to think about what they want to achieve that I’m inspired to do the same.
So far, I have listed everything I want to do writing-wise. I started out with a goal of making my life a lot easier next year with a sedate writing pace… Yeah. By the time I figured in everything I NEED to write, that easy plan went out the window. Crazy as it is, I have my 2019 writing plan mapped out. But work’s not everything, right?
What about real life? Family fun and obligations. Fitness goals (ha!). My artistic goals (paint for fun, re-open my Etsy store, produce something to sell…). Build my savings. Get ready for retirement (like that will ever happen!).
To get all my goals in alignment, I set up a Bullet Journal. I’ve kept one for about three years now. It’s time-consuming. A pain in the ass to set up and maintain, but everything I need to do is captured in one little journal book. That’s what I’m trying to wrap up today.
So, my question to you is whether you worry about the coming year. Do you plan? Set resolutions? Set up journals or calendars? Answer for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
Hello, everyone! First I want to thank Delilah for hosting me today, for sharing her space with me. It’s always generous of her to do that, and always fun for me to be here.
I have to admit, I’ve been looking forward to the end of this year. I thought I was looking forward to the end of last year, but then 2018 happened. The last couple of years have been rough here, but the challenges look like they are winding down, which is a huge relief. I’ve been anticipating the start of the new year for a fresh start.
My fresh start doesn’t include New Year’s resolutions–I’ve never had much success with those.Instead I always set goals for myself (mostly writing, though I used to include personal things on those lists) and try to break them down into smaller, manageable bites that make it more likely I’ll reach those goals by the end of the year. Sometimes life gets in the way, like it has for the past three years. Some things you simply can’t plan for.
I had high hopes for last year, even after the really lousy start we had. But if you’ve experienced loss, you know what happens: even when you think you’re good, or you think you should be better, grief has a way of pulling you under when you least expect it.
So I am looking at next week, at the start of the near year, and am determined that the last couple of things we still need to wrap up will not slow me down. I have my writing goals fine-tuned (Thanks for that, too, Delilah! I do love the goal-setting workshop each December!), and I am almost ready to go. I have a few days left this year to relax a little before we turn the calendar forward–just the direction I’m aiming for.
My list is ready, posted on my bulletin board here beside my desk in my home office, and tucked into my day-job tote bag where I will see it daily when I pull my things out to put on my desk there in the mornings. I did add some personal goals to the list this year (You know what else loss and grief can do? Screw up your day-to-day schedules, including meals and exercise.), so I can end next year in a much better place, writing-wise and personally, than this year or last year, or even the year before, before things went really haywire.
I’ve had some really ambitious lists in previous years, must bigger lists that I managed to pull off, because things went my way in every conceivable circumstance. These last few years? Not so much. So my list for 2019 is a little smaller than I would like, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure. If I get more done, that can be a nice bonus when we get to this time next year. But honestly, I’ll be thrilled to check off everything on my goals list for the year, even if there is no extra.
I wonder how many others are ready for the new year to begin, for your own fresh start? Do you have specific goals? A short list? A long list? Just a reading list? I have an electronic copy of my book Hunting Medusa and a gift card for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble to give away for one commenter.I’ll do a drawing via RandomResult.com for these and include entries for everyone who comments between now and 5pm EST on Friday, December 28, 2018.
Happy New Year!
About Elizabeth Andrews
Elizabeth Andrews has been a book lover since she was old enough to read. She read her copies of Little Women and the Little House series so many times, the books fell apart. As an adult, her book habit continues. She has a room overflowing with her literary collection right now, and still more spreading into other rooms.Almost as long as she’s been reading great stories, she’s been attempting to write her own. Thanks to a fifth grade teacher who started the class on creative writing, Elizabeth went from writing creative sentences to short stories and eventually full-length novels. Her father saved her poor, callused fingers from permanent damage when he brought home a used typewriter for her.
Elizabeth found her mother’s stash of romance novels as a teenager, and—though she loves horror—romance became her very favorite genre, making writing romances a natural progression. There are more than just a few manuscripts, however, tucked away in a filing cabinet that will never see the light of day.
Along with her enormous book stash, Elizabeth lives with her husband of more than twenty years and two young adult sons, though no one else in the house reads nearly as much as she does. When she’s not at work or buried in books or writing, there is a garden outside full of herbs, flowers and vegetables that requires occasional attention.