The word “acceptance” holds many things within its ten letters. In fact, you may have thought in reading my earlier post that I was giving up. Perhaps it sounded as if I was no longer going to fight a battle with two chronic health issues. That wasn’t my intention when I said I was choosing to accept my lot and move on. Continue reading
Dealing With Unmet Goals And Expectations
How do goals and expectations go awry?
You set goals and make New Year’s resolutions. January comes, and it goes. Soon you feel less than productive. In fact, you’re somewhat depressed at the progress you’re not making. You start checking up on the goals and/or resolutions you made. Expectations haven’t come to fruition. What you wanted to accomplish hasn’t come to pass.
Now you feel guilty that you’ve let 31 days slip through your fingers. You rake your fingers through your hair and moan. Chastising yourself doesn’t change anything. It really boils down to commitment.
How do you commit to something so intangible?
The word “commitment” invokes a promise, an obligation to do something that will show tangible results, right? Goals, expectations, and resolutions are not tangible. So, to whom or what are you promising you’ll do this thing?
In the first place, I don’t make resolutions and rarely set goals. Each year I usually choose a word to underscore my motivation for the year. For 2018, I selected the word “fearless.”
Focusing on writing and working in fearless anticipation of completing projects is supposed to keep me writing and moving forward each day. However, I look back on January and consider it a bust.
I had committed to completing a couple of essays, posting on the blog at least once each week, and sending out my newsletter the third Wednesday of each month. In addition, I wanted to continue researching my novel, developing my characters, and hopefully starting the first draft. If I were to give you free run of my laptop, you’d not find any of those commitments completed, either partially or in total.
What happened to good intentions?
You may ask yourself this question when everything seems to fall apart. Usually it’s the result of distractions or interruptions. Here’s what happens to me most often:
- Something didn’t meet my expectations and/or something caused me to start questioning my own value, worth or ability.
- When this questioning persists and I begin to believe that every day will look like the last one, discouragement sets in and it seems nothing will ever get better.
- Then I lose my focus on that special word, “fearless,” the word that is supposed to keep me pushing through these feelings of discouragement and what I see as failure.
But all is not lost. Discouragement can be a gift.
As strange as it seems, there can be gifts along the journey of discouragement, fear of failure, and lack of success.
Discouragement will uncover those expectations. When I expect something to happen a certain way and it doesn’t, I’m disappointed. My whole being gets sad, and I cease to function in a productive way.
Next, discouragement has a way of showing up and teaching me about my misplaced trust. Everything writers do related to success is also connected to reports from Google or other social media about algorithms and the number of followers, number of comments, etc. When these numbers don’t measure up, I feel a sense of worthlessness because I must not be providing what my readers are looking for. Where have I placed my trust? In things that are fickle and unstable. Perhaps I should place my trust in God, someone I know I can rely on to keep things on an even keel.
Discouragement has also taught me how to define my worth. Am I more concerned with success because I’m writing “fearlessly,” or because of success-by-metrics? If by the first, then I am truly worthy of that success. It’s solid.
It has also revealed my control issues and who or what I listen to. I believe that what I can control allows me to direct the outcome of that project. If I work hard enough, strive enough, and push on through, I’ll be successful. This is not always the case. And that’s when I realize I need to buckle down and try harder.
I tend to read everything I can find on writing and how to improve and be successful. Reading is a beautiful thing, and I love to read. However, reading isn’t going to be the factor that makes me a successful writer if I allow reading to distract me from my focus. Reading what others have written on writing is a good thing unless it takes over and pulls me away from my writing.
So, you see, discouragement and feeling less than successful can actually open your eyes and gift you with the knowledge that you need to pick up, learn from this disappointment, and move forward.
Have you experienced recent disappointments or unmet expectations? Would you mind sharing in the comments or if you prefer use my Contact Page to email me?
Header Image Attribution: Viktor Hanacek via Picjumbo
AN ENDING AND A BEGINNING
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve pondered many things. Life, mine in particular. Family relationships and friendships. My relationship with God. And the ending of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, which calls to mind resolution making, goal setting, or maybe neither. I’ve decided on the neither group, and I’ll tell you why a little later.
Last year instead of making resolutions I set goals. My decision to set goals instead of resolutions is found in my history of not keeping resolutions. As for last year’s goals, I didn’t carry out many of them. Rather than send myself slogging down that path again, I decided last week to focus on the positive and not the negative in my life, including those goals. That also includes some difficult familial relationships, some friendships, and our friendship here in the NW with the sun, a relationship dreadfully lacking in harmony for too long and highly problematic for those of us suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, i.e. we would not make good moles.
ONE WORD 2016
Taking note of the time to select my One Word for 2016, I pondered that for a few days. Several words made it to my final list–committed (sounded like a journey to a home somewhere), persistent (fits in with my current reading of Jordan Rosenfeld‘s book, A Writer’s Guide to Persistence), dedication (meh!), and then it came to me.
INTRODUCING MY ONE WORD FOR 2016 ~~ INTENTIONAL
Don’t you like the sound of the word “intentional?” I do, and here’s why. It has nothing to do with the real sound. It’s the definition. Intentional, according to Dictionary.com, means:
1. done with intention or on purpose; intended: an intentional insult.
2. of or relating to intention or purpose.
Unlike resolutions, it doesn’t necessarily include a promise to do one specific thing or a longer list of things. Unlike goal setting, it doesn’t set a bar I must strive to reach for several things. Or as my husband said, “It means when you set your mind to something, you get it done.” I can do that!
RESOLUTIONS, GOALS, OR NEITHER
And now you know why I have chosen the neither group. I’m going to spend 2016 making up my mind to do that next project–after all I have several “leftovers” from 2014 and 2015–and when I’ve finished it, I’ll do the next one. Each one done with intention. Easy peasy, huh?
My intentional self also plans to address many things with this “can do” attitude and with a positive attitude. I’ll keep you posted along the way.
For the near term, I will be finishing up my Timeline Story Series in the next couple of weeks, adding some new memoir reviews you are going to enjoy reading, and lots of other items on the horizon, including a free ebook of motivational quotes for writers from writers coming soon.
But before any of that, I have good news to share–an inclusion in an anthology. Book launch is Friday, January 8th. You’ll be hearing more about it then.
What about you? What are your thoughts on resolutions, goals, or neither? Have you been pondering anything spectacular for 2016? Selected your word yet? Let’s talk over coffee, OK?
For the past few years I have chosen to focus on one word for the year. I have done so through the site One Word 365. I invite you to visit the site. It’s a great place to build community with others who have chosen the same or a similar word. In 2015, I choose to focus on the word “flexible.” Dictionary.com defines “flexible” as follows:
1. capable of being bent, usually without breaking; easily bent: a flexible ruler.
2. susceptible of modification or adaptation; adaptable: a flexible schedule.
3. willing or disposed to yield; pliable: a flexible personality.
In my look back at 2014, I used this photo to define the word “flexible” with imagery. As I said then and continue to contend, I’ll never be this flexible physically. It’s too late!
And yet I need the characteristics of the word “flexible” in other areas of my life.
The best example I can offer is to share with you a story from this past year.
In the midst of my husband’s three months of suffering with severe back pain and my struggle with what turns out to be a chronic respiratory issue, I sensed our world was falling apart.
My goals for the year fell by the wayside, my writing placed on hold for the most part, and other activities we volunteer for removed from our schedules. WHY? was all I could think as I pondered our circumstances. Why now? Why these problems? Why, why, why?
In the process of fuming over these stumbling blocks, I became short-tempered, spoke to others in terse and biting ways, and lost my ability to reason with insurance clerks, nurses, pharmacists and others trying to help us.
Ordinarily, I can face days that come along with changes in scheduling because of one thing or another. But this wasn’t just a day here or there; it was months we were facing. My inflexible attitude wasn’t helping matters though.
In retrospect I can see that I need to step up and realize that yes, some days will self-destruct in favor of some other activity or chore simply because life is often unexpected in how it rolls out in the morning. If I had been less rigid last year, I likely would have accomplished more than I did, but I literally destroyed my plans by allowing outside forces and influences as well as our circumstances to get the better of me.
Having worked almost 40 years for attorneys you would think I would be able to handle such crises with aplomb and grace. It makes you wonder where all that polish goes after retirement.
Thus, my choice of the word “flexible” for my focus during 2015. I’m hoping to come out at the end of the next 12 months with an improved attitude and toting around recaptured polish. One shouldn’t give up almost 40 years to a career and then lose her polish!
What is your focus word for 2015? Will you choose one? Do you have another method of establishing your focus for the year? Or do you dive in head first and go by the seat of your pants? I’d love to hear how you would handle your world turned topsy-turvy.
If you read my last post on January 1, you know what happened to my 2014 goals. When I sat down to set out my goals for 2015, I kept in mind what last year did to my plans. I kept focused on what I committed to in that same post on January 1. My goals for 2015 are simpler and shorter than last year’s, beginning with a focus on the mandate I set for myself of facing frustrations and interruptions with flexibility.
While I will never meet the physical flexibility seen here, I realize I need more attention to flexibility during my daily scheduling.
Goals for 2015 include:
As mentioned above, more flexibility in dealing with daily demands and schedules. I have more than writing to attend to each day: family relationships, preparing meals, household chores, laundry, errands, exercise, and professional reading.
In order to get these all done, I need to realize I cannot commit every day 100% to writing. In 2015, I intend to select one day from Monday through Friday and devote it to my book. The schedule will be kept free of distractions.
Goal #2: Thanks to the artists and writers cooperative where I had registered for a writing class held September-November, I will be able to restart that class in April. Surgery and recovery interrupted my attendance, and the group was fair in extending a large part of my registration fees to join back up in January or April. I chose April to ensure I was fully healed. Returning and finishing this class is important to me.
Goal #3: Work diligently at building platform as I anticipate completing, publishing and marketing my memoir. My newsletter has gained some momentum but not what I’d like to have seen so I need to educate myself on how to increase readership. I’m also leaning more toward using Twitter as my primary social media outlet, and I’ll need to come up to speed there. Sitting on a shelf nearby is the idea for another eBook for my newsletter subscribers, but that is not a definite goal for 2015.
Goal #4: With completion of the class addressed above, I hope to have finished the second draft of my memoir. It is my further hope that I will be able to work with my class instructor in finalizing that draft and readying it for editing and later publication. However, this is not a deadline item and will never be as there are too many changes that can occur in the editorial and marketing process.
Goal #5: In 2015, I want to increase my participation in this writing community I so thoroughly enjoy. My ability to get around and read every blog post has fallen by the wayside, and I’m looking to find a better method for reading and commenting on others’ work. I also want to continue my efforts in supporting other writers by reviewing their memoirs here and other genre on Goodreads and Amazon.
These are all the 2015 goals I intend to set out in black and white. As I said in my last post, there is only one me in each day I’m given and only so much time in that one day to work at the things calling my name. To attempt more would be the closest thing to implosion of a human I can think of at the moment.
I leave you with a quote from William Edgar Stafford, Poet Laureate of Oregon from 1975-1990:
I embrace emerging experience. I participate in discovery. I am a butterfly. I am not a butterfly collector. I want the experience of the butterfly.
Stafford’s words speak to the way I want to live 2015: emerging, discovering, experiencing.
How will 2015 play out for you? Have you set goals, made resolutions, or cast a list of to do’s in stone yet? Share how you’re forecasting your new year.
Last year at this time I set goals and not resolutions. At the time I established the goals, it seemed a long list for one human.
As I review that list now, it turns out those could not have been truer words.
Christmas Day 2013 found my husband in excruciating pain that would last until back surgery in March 2014. At the same time, what I thought was allergies turned out to be a respiratory problem with a long recovery time.
With Bob’s home chores falling to my shoulders as well as his health care and my own, the writing life seemed to disintegrate before my eyes.
About the time the dust began to settle, I had the opportunity attend the annual Willamette Writers Conference. Local Portland writer and teacher, Jennifer Lauck, author of Blackbirdand several other books, facilitated two of the sessions I attended. I had met Jennifer before but not in the workshop environment. Jennifer excited me with her mode of teaching, her excitement about the written word, and her palpable desire to help others achieve their dreams.
By the end of the next week, I had registered to take one of Jennifer’s upcoming classes at a local writers’ cooperative. I made it to two sessions, and a bomb dropped the last weekend in September. Pain I hadn’t experienced since spinal fusion riddled one side of my body. A multitude of tests showed no reason for the pain. I had to decide whether to continue the class or taking care of myself. The latter won out. Dropping out was a huge disappointment.
Finally we insisted on another test, and a diagnosis took me into surgery. I am recovering well, and I feel better than I did 18 months ago. That in itself is a bonus.
I share all this with you to underscore the truth of goal-setting, making resolutions, resolving to adhere to a set daily schedule and/or to do list: [tweetthis]A writer’s “other life” doesn’t always cooperate with the plans for the writing life.[/tweetthis]
Lesson learned: I am one person with one life with days presented to me singularly to accomplish what I can. When all the parts of my life and days gifted don’t mesh, I will attempt to be flexible and set frustrations aside knowing there will be tomorrow.
Based on this newly ingrained bit of wisdom, I will be setting goals for 2015 and selecting a word to focus on as I move forward through 2015 while remembering what 2014 has taught me.
What about you? What did 2014 teach you that will impact how you plan as a person and/or a writer for 2015?