January 1, 2016

Goals Redux

It’s the time of the year for goal-making, and it’s the time of the year for reflection. Back in March I made a list of ten things I wanted to accomplish in the rest of 2015. Nine months, ten big goals, one brand new baby, one crazy-active preschooler. Yeah, I might have been a little optimistic, and I might not have accomplished everything on my list. But 2015 was a banner year.

Bean, our beautiful and long-awaited baby girl, arrived at the end of February, and in September I published my book baby, On the Verge. The former made my heart swell with love, the latter with pride, and both made my year.

But beyond those two major milestones what else did I accomplish in 2015? Let’s revisit my goals and set some new ones.

Note: The original goals listed below come from my blog post on March 26.

1. Exercise.

Original Goal: Before Bean was born I was regularly working out three days a week. I think it might be a little optimistic to jump right back into that routine, but once I get the go ahead from the doc at my postpartum check-up, I’ll start out with a once-a-week visit to Bassline and a jog around the neighborhood. By the end of the year though I want to be back to thrice weekly visits to Bassline. I’m missing those killer workouts and how they make me feel.

Results: After Bean was born I took 7.5 weeks off for recovery. I started back at Bassline on 4/19 and quickly settled into a twice a week routine for the rest of the year until this last month when I managed to bump my workouts up to three times a week (except for the week I was sick with the stomach flu – only worked out once that week). The majority of those third workouts have turned out to be three mile runs around the neighborhood. That’s good, but not great. It’s just tough with the new little one and Nora’s full-time school schedule this year. Truly, nothing beats a Bassline workout for calorie burning and muscle toning, but hey, a run’s not bad either. And if that’s what I can fit in during the week, that works for me.

New Goal: Continue the trend of thrice weekly workouts but try to integrate Bassline as often as possible.

2. Complete a 10K in June.

Original Goal: After Bun was born I ran a 10K with the hubs 4 months postpartum. I’d like to do the same this time around, and maybe even beat my previous time of 58:10. That’s a 9:23/mile pace.

Results: I did the Berry Dairy Days 10K on June 20, four months postpartum, but wasn’t as successful this time around. My time was 1:01:51, a 9:57/mile pace (you can read about my thoughts on those results here). I tried again in October at the Dawg Dash 10K and ran it in 1:01:01, or a 9:51/mile pace. Better but still 28 seconds/mile off my 2011 10K pace.

New Goal: Set a new 10K PR by beating my 2011 time of 58:10. The key to that, my friends, is dropping the extra pounds I’ve been carrying since Bean was born. Which leads me to my next goal…

3. Lose the weight.

Original Goal: On a related note to exercise and running, I’m anxious to get back to my pre-baby weight. As of this writing I’ve got 12 pounds to go. That seems pretty doable so I’ll throw in a second goal of making it back to my pre-freshman 15 and pre-lazy-mid-twenties 10 weight. That would be an extra 25 pounds to lose by the end of December.

Results: Whew, boy was I ambitious with this goal. At the time I wrote the original back in March I was breast feeding and the pounds seemed to be melting off pretty quickly. I made it down to a low of 7 lbs above my pre-baby weight by the end of May. Then my metabolism and hormones went all wonky (I talked about why that happened here) and I was back up to 12 lbs by the middle of June. Things fluctuated for the next few months before topping out at 16 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight at the beginning of November. Ouch. Currently I am 13 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight.

New Goal: Get to my pre-pregnancy weight. I have the urge to be more ambitious again with this goal but reaching that number seems elusive enough.

4. Get an agent, find a publisher, or self-publish.

Original Goal: I’d like my book to eventually see the light of day. I wrote about this in my last post, so suffice it to say here that by the time the end of the year rolls around I’ll have found a home for On the Verge.

Results: I self-published On the Verge and it is currently on Amazon! It has reviews! And a sales ranking! All very exciting. It’s a major personal accomplishment that I worked towards for nearly two years.

New Goal: I’ve gone back and forth on this one quite a bit. Continue writing about the Verge and turn it into a series or start a brand new story. You can read about my internal struggle on that here, but ultimately I’ve decided to strike out in a new direction with my sights on landing the ultimate prize of an agent and traditional publishing contract. Writing a new novel with a new story is the first step in making that happen. Which brings me to…

5. Start writing a new novel.

Original Goal: I’ve got an idea of what I’d like to focus on next, I just have to carve out the time. To do that I’m planning on participating in National Novel Writing Month (a community of authors who come together and pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November). Bean will be 8 months old by then and hopefully settled into a more predictable routine. With a little fancy scheduling I just might be able to make the time to get started on my next book.

Results: So Bean, thankfully, has been a great sleeper, which makes finding the time to write easier. But I had some misgivings by the time NaNoWriMo rolled around in November. I’d just published On the Verge in mid-September and was still in the throes of marketing it when I was supposed to be starting the new one. We also had a trip planned to Hawaii in the middle of the month. But I decided to sign up for the challenge anyway and then, after writing less than a thousand words, realized I was headed down the wrong path.

New Goal: I think it was too soon after publishing On the Verge to commit to a writing a new novel. I wasn’t ready. I’d depleted all my creative reserves getting that story ready to see the light of day and it showed. I do want to start writing a new book this year, but I want to promise myself I won’t do it until I feel ready. That might be March or October or some other time. But it will be this year.

6. Keep freelancing.

Original Goal: I took some time away from freelance writing while I finished On the Verge, but I already have my first new assignment. I’m going to focus on getting at least 12 articles published by the New Year.

Results: Again, I was a little ambitious with this one. I managed to write four articles for North End Metro magazine this year. I have two more coming up for them in 2016 and a third for Northwest Travel & Life.

New Goal: I love writing for NEM and I’m super excited to break into a new market with Northwest Travel & Life. I want to put more of a focus on freelancing in 2016. That means sending pitches to new magazines and doing a great job on the assignments I already have. The plan is to send a pitch to one new magazine a month. In the meantime I’ll continue to do my best work for NEM and Northwest Travel & Life.

7. Learn to draw.

Original Goal: I’ve always loved to draw, but I’ve never been especially good at it. I have a set of brand new colored pencils that have been languishing on my desk for many months alongside the highly recommended book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition. I want to work through the exercises in that book, and maybe learn how to draw a bit better.

Results: Well, I did crack open those colored pencils for an adult coloring book experiment, but I never did get around to working through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

New Goal: I’d like to commit two days a week in February to drawing. I’m not saying that I’ll learn how to draw better in a month, but I’d at least like to get through the book and see where that gets me. If it seems like something I’d like to continue to work on, I might designate some time once a week to keep practicing.

8. Learn French.

Original Goal: Similarly I have had the complete Rosetta Stone series for French on my laptop for more than a year. I want to take a half hour once or twice a week and get back to learning the language. Hopefully I can finish the Rosetta Stone lessons over the next 9 months.

Results: This did not happen, unfortunately, and it still bothers me. I really want to complete that Rosetta Stone series. Learning French and using it in France is on my bucket list.

New Goal: I’m designating Wednesday nap times as my time for French lessons. Again, I’m not saying once a week is going to be enough to get me fluent but it’s a start.

9. Sew a custom dress.

Original Goal: I learned how to sew a couple of years ago, but recently my sewing machine has lain dormant downstairs. It keeps calling my name. I think it’s time I answered.

Results: I have yet to answer the call. Are you sensing a theme with the last couple of goals on this list? At least you can’t accuse me of lacking enthusiasm for goal setting.

New Goal: By this time, even the basics I learned a few years ago are getting a bit rusty. It’s time to get back in the swing of things. March is the month I’ll commit to one day a week of sewing with the goal of completing some cool project.

10. Keep reading.

Original Goal: Finding time to read is difficult with two kiddos, but I’ve come to realize that it is a really important part of who I am. I just don’t feel like myself unless I find some time during the week to read. I won’t set myself a specific number of books, but I will commit to reading for at least two hours a week initially and hopefully more as things settle down (i.e. Bean sleeps through the night).

Results: I did okay with this goal. Here are the books I read this year:

Lifestyle: The Sweet Life in Paris, Happiness in the Pursuit, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Essentialism (audiobook)

Publishing: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, APE: How to Publish a Book, The Essential Guide to Getting Yourself Published

Creativity: Manage Your Day-to-Day, Show Your Work, Steal Like an Artist, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Creativity, Inc. (audiobook)

Self-Help: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, The Power of Habit (audiobook)

Parenting: The Highly Sensitive Child

Fiction: The Rosie Project, Sacre Bleu, Heart-Shaped Box, The Halloween Tree, The BFG, The Phantom Tollbooth

New Goal: This year I’d like to take the time to read even more, and instead of focusing on nonfiction, I want to read more widely in fantasy and horror, the genres I write in, at least two books a month.

Bonus. Keep writing for my blog weekly.

Original Goal: I’ve been making weekly blog posts to Scriven by Garen for 9 straight weeks now. My goal when I started was to make it a full year. 9 down, 43 more to go.

Results: This is my 49th straight blog post for Scriven by Garen.

New Goal: Three more posts to go. I might just make it.

Wish me luck!

Image credit: Blog Pelatelli

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