Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolutions: Settin' Yourself up for Failure

Happy New Year everyone!!  I want to take a moment to thank my readers for visiting, and all of the authors who posted information about their books over the New Year's Weekend! I'm confident that the 700+ hits weren't just from me checking in. I hope everyone left happy. I know I was quite pleased with the event. 
Now that 2012 is underway, it's that time of year when we wake up on January 1st, wipe the sleep from tired puffy eyes, stretch, groan and prepare to face the day, and a new year
One of the first things that probably crosses everyone's mind is that little phrase which, in recent years, has made me cringe!! 
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION!!
Or as I've come to think of it ... the first step on the road to failure!
Why so cynical you ask? Uh, how about over 40 years experience. 
We set goals for ourselves and get all excited. The natural way to handle new changes in our lives, right? The first few days, or even weeks, sail by, often times, flawlessly...then the newness wears off and whatever the goals were, get tucked away in some "things to do" drawer that we somehow lose the key to. 
Well, that just sucks. Plain and simple. 
Why go through all the trouble to plan something, just to turn around and forget about it? Who benefits from that? 
Nobody, that's who. Especially not you. Not you personally and certainly not you professionally. 
So, this year I'm doing something new. I'm lowering the bar. What? Lowering the bar?
Yep, but not in the way it sounds. I'm lowering the size of the goal...you know, setting goals that are practical and easier to complete. 
Let me explain my reasoning. 
Last year I had TEN books release and let me tell you this...that kicked my butt and wore me out. How can I keep up that pace? I can't. That's the problem. 
Because I wrote so much, so fast and spent the rest of my waking hours promoting, I burned more than brain cells... I burned up a lot of the drive and love I had for writing in general. Losing that inspirational part of me was never my intention, so when the desire to write faltered, it nearly broke my heart. 
This year I'm taking back control, one goal at a time. 
Here's a few of my ideas:

#1 Set Writing goals!
Decide how much time you actually have each day that can be set aside for serious, uninterrupted writing. I generally set a word goal since I know where my breaking points are. For example, I used to write 5,000 words a day...A DAY!! 
An 80 K word book? No problem. But now? I learned the hard way that pushing myself that hard and that fast was burning the candle at both ends. 
Half of that is a pretty decent amount. It's a bit more attainable and won't feel like a failure if I can't manage 5k anymore. Think of it as a mind trick. Our brains and emotions respond better if we feel successful, so why not give yourself a break and ensure that success can be gained. 


#2 Reading!!
Yes, READING!  I don't read enough and any writer can tell you that reading is like studying for a pop quiz that you never know when you're going to take. Words are food. 
An award winning chef can't prepare meals fit for a king unless he/she tastes what they're cooking!!
Race-car drivers can't win races unless they know how to drive on each new track. 
Writers can't write unless their minds see words...and not just words from a take out menu. Real, honest-to-goodness words, in sentences and not just from the genres you write. Expand your tastes!! Try new things. You'll be glad you did.  
                                                    

#3 Hone your Craft 

Start looking for new ways to improve your writing skills. 
The internet has an infinite supply of information and much of it is free. Simply type in the words, "Writing Tips" and voila, whatever you want to know will be at your fingertips. Also, consider reading biographies of other authors, especially the great ones, and learn the steps they took to become the wonderful writers they are/were. The knowledge alone will be a reward in itself!!

The next few ideas are for anyone, not just writers

#4 Eat Right 
Don't set a goal to lose weight. Set a goal to eat right! Your body will thank you for it. Nothing can ruin really good intentions like the plateau of a diet. That time that comes...and it will come, when no matter how hard you've tried and how viciously you've starved yourself... the day will come that the pounds will cling and take root in places you didn't even know you had. Trust me, I speak from experience. But this year, I want my health to take priority and that will need to start somewhere...why not my tummy?

#4 Get plenty of sleep and relaxation!! 

'But Robin, I can sleep when I'm dead!!'

Yeah, well if you don't give your body and brain some time to recharge, you'll get all the sleep you need, much sooner than you wanted. What good is working yourself to death if you're not around to reap the reward. 
Taking a nap when your body says your tired is nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, your kids and/or significant other may even suggest it if you get grumpy like I do. A hot relaxing bath, soaking in bath salts or bubbles can turn a toad into a prince/princess in a matter of moments. 

Finally, may I suggest some quality time with the family. Let 'em go wild and savor the chaos every once on a while. 
Your brain will appreciate the break from all the working and thinking. 
A writer who's all work and no play is... 
well, a lonely old recluse, living all alone with too damn many cats. 

It doesn't matter what you do or where you are, your life depends on your mental and physical well being. So take care of every aspect, starting with turning over new leaves with the flip of the calendar. 


Make January your secret weapon and work out a new plan of action to ensure success all year long!! You'll be surprised by how good it will make you feel.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!


10 comments:

  1. I'm not into resolutions either. I like your goal idea though. You're right, Robin...resolutions are a set up to failure...goals are easier to maintain :)

    Happy New Year..and I just want you to know that you have awesome music on your blog. Every time I drop in you have a great song playing...lol :)

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  2. Thanks, Christine. I have a house full of teenagers who remind me daily how important being "cool" is. LOL!
    You'd be surprised by my personal mix CDs... everything from Beethoven to Jay Z... even have some ZZ Top and Aretha Franklin!
    Good luck with your goals. I can't wait to see you nail 'em all!!

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  3. I stopped making resolutions when I was fourteen. I've shrugged at family's and friends' suggestion to make resolutions because they weren't realistic at fourteen and they weren't realistic after fourteen.

    I love your goal ideas. The first two are definite musts for me this year. After experiencing two nervous breakdowns last year, I realized I couldn't write at a breakneck pace while working full-time and spending evenings with my little family. Reading has lead to a wealth of imaginary experiences, and has inspiried several short stories, and has encouraged me to keep writing.

    The last two... Well, I'll let you know how I do on those this year :)

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  4. Great blog! I'm not one to set goals because I don't like setting limits. Things in life out of our control can happen to us at times preventing us from being at the level we wish. Instead of having a goal, I'll have a desire to be somewhere and do what I can to make it happen without feeling depressed if I don't quite make it there when I want.

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  5. I'm trying to pace myself as well. With a busy house full of kids, editing, promoting, and writing - I don't want to get burned out before I've even begun! I think your advice is right on the money and I wish you all the best this new year :)

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  6. Sounds like wisdom to me! Filling the tank so we have inspiration for writing something new and exciting is so important.Pushing yourself to aburn out makes life so hard. Better to make reasonable goals like you are doing.

    I have goals--more like a list of priorities--but few deadlines. Working full time, a house full of teens, a hubby with chronic health issues--it is just better to run with the plan when things are good, and dial it back when life gets crazy.

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  7. Excellent advice. I was thinking along the same lines last night--2 writing names and at least a book each per year, sometimes more--I feel pulled in too many directions. Dialing it back a bit sounds like a useful ingredient for success.

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  8. Thanks so much for dropping by. Putting the needs of our family and our own health first is a win/win situation all around. Preserving our mind and spirit won't bring forth anything less than a positive outcome.

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  9. Hi Robin, thanks for your inspirational ideas! And I really need that cute cat (even without the teddybear). :)
    BTW, 5.000 words A DAY seems an awful lot. I admire you for having worked this strict by your own rules.
    Have a great year 2012!
    Ann Raina

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