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Celebrate! It’s a new year!

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had safe and happy celebrations, and you’re excited about the new year. I know I am. I love beginnings — of books, movies, jobs, weeks, months, years, anything really. A beginning feels like it’s bursting with potential. The future could hold anything. So it is with great joy that I approach another new year.

This year will be a big one. My eldest son starts school (well, kindergarten, but whatever), my youngest turns 1 and steps further away from true babyhood, and I’ll graduate from my mid-thirties to being “closer to 40”. Plus, of course, there’s so much opportunity for personal growth and change.

I’m not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I think they’re silly. They tend to be ridiculous things like “lose weight” or “get fit” or “watch less TV”. They’re stock phrases that mean nothing.

I love goal setting, on the other hand. Real goals. SMART* goals. And although I reflect on, revise, and rewrite my goals regularly, the new year seems like a nice time to sit back and do it again.

Writing

Last year, I set out in April with the idea that 2011 would be the first year that I really sat down and turned writing from a sometime hobby and dream into a career. With that in mind, I set a number of goals for myself:

  • Finish the first draft of Novel A by October 31. Send our for beta reading.
  • Write the first draft of YA Novel B during NaNoWriMo, finishing by November 30.
  • Rewrite, revise and edit Novel A by December 30, readying for querying.
  • Start and maintain a blog, building to become part of an online blogging community.
  • Submit 8 short stories to competitions.

So, how did I go?

  • I realised early on that with the pressure/time constraint of raising two children and having a shift-working husband, I would never reach my self-imposed deadline for Novel A. I tried writing 100 Words a Day to some small success, but the system didn’t quite work for me long-term (despite the fact that I love the idea). I played around with a few other time-finding methods before I finally worked out how I could find the time. I then revised my goal to wanting to write a minimum of 5000 words per month (preferably 10,000). I did that in October, and reset my goal to wanting to complete the first draft of Novel A by April 30, 2012.
  • Since I was on a roll with Novel A, I chose not to participate in NaNoWriMo, and to further develop and plan my idea for YA Novel B. I still want to write it, and think it will be better now than if I had written it when I originally planned.
  • No revising was done. But I did find a great critique partner in real life, and a few great critique partners online whom I fully intend to utilise when I’m up to that point. I consider that a win.
  • My blog is great. If I say so myself. I wrote 168 posts in 2011, had just over 17,000 page views, have 102 subscribers, and feel like I’m actually part of multiple blogging communities — both in the writing blogosphere and the parenting blogosphere. And I’m thrilled and honoured to be part of it all.
  • I actually only submitted 5 short stories to competitions, but I was shortlisted for two of those (even if I didn’t win), and had one published in an anthology. I also realised that short story writing is not my forte — I’ll stick with novels and flash fiction (1000 words or less). I participated in a number of online blog-based flash fiction competitions, mostly the ones run by the ever-amazing Mr Chuck Wendig, and had 3 winning pieces: Wish You Were Here, Grudge Match, and Pest Control

So, how do my writing goals look for this year?

Novel A

  1. Complete the first draft of Novel A by April 30 and send to beta readers.
  2. Rewrite, revise and edit Novel A based on suggestions and feedback from beta readers by July 30. Send to second round of beta readers.
  3. Revise and edit Novel A based on suggestions and feedback from beta readers by October 31.
  4. Begin query process for Novel A by November 30.

YA Novel B

  1. Research and plan YA Novel B by May 30. This is something I don’t normally do, but the setting and subject matter of this novel is something that I can’t just “make up as I go along”, so I really need to put the hard yards in first.
  2. Begin work on the first draft of YA Novel B. (Due to be completed by February 28, 2013.)

Social Media

  1. Continue blogging. (As if I’d stop now, this stuff is addictive!)
  2. Buy a domain name, create a website/blog of my very own, transfer everything from here over to there, and then make it all better. Note: I have no idea how to do any of this. Complete the transition by 30 June.
  3. Join twitter and learn how to use it. I’ve done the first part (yay me!) but now need to work out the second. I’d like to have this all under control by June 30 as well. In the meantime, please follow me and I’ll follow you back and we can work it out together. Or, at the very least, my home page won’t be covered in zeros! You’ll find me @JoEberhardt.

Short Stories

  1. Continue participating in flash fiction contests — at least once every second week, for a total of 26 entries this year.
  2. Submit 6 flash fiction stories to short fiction markets.

Reading

I started 2011 with the intention of “reading more books”. That’s exactly the type of non-goal resolution I hate! Technically, I suppose I succeeded. I have no idea how many books I read in 2010. I have no idea how many books I wanted to read. And I only started recording the books I’d read after April, when I started blogging.

Since I started recording them, I read 22 books in 2011. On one hand, that’s quite good. But on the other, that’s way less than a book a fortnight. And only one of them was a particularly large book. Most were in the 250 – 350 page range.

So this year, my goal is to read 50 books. That works out to be one a week, with a couple of “reading breaks”. I have a feeling some of the books I read may well be research for YA Novel B, which will do double duty in the goal stakes. Just the way I like it.

Other

While I do have some more personal goals, I’m not going to tell you what they are. Sorry. They mostly revolve around my relationships with others, my finances, and my family. But the one “other” goal I will share is my weight/fitness goal.

This time last year, I was 8 months pregnant. I’d been overweight when I fell pregnant, and by the time I was 6 months along, I felt like I was the Goodyear Blimp. I barely had enough energy to get out of bed. I didn’t set any real goals based around my weight, because I was pregnant. Did I mention I was 8 months pregnant?

Anyway, after Baby was born in early February, it took my almost 3 months to recover from the caesarean. By then, I realised that I still felt like a blimp. And that, in turn, made me feel old, unattractive, and ungainly. (Please note: none of this is based on how I looked — just on how I felt.) So I took up jogging (which I hate), started watching what I ate, and hoped for the best.

Nothing happened. Except that I felt miserable when I was jogging.

Then we were given a Wii Fit and, despite it’s occasional sociopathic moments, I turned a corner. I found exercises I could enjoy in the comfort of my own home. I looked at how and when I was eating, rather than what I was eating, and I started to develop toned muscles and lose fat.

Bliss.

This time last year, I was 8 months pregnant. This year, I’m not. That alone accounts for a weight loss of a good 8 – 10 kg (17 – 22 lbs). But I actually weigh a grand total of 26 kg (57 lb) less. And, more importantly, I’m physically stronger, more active, have greater physical stamina, better balance, and I feel great in my body.

I’m officially within the healthy BMI range for my height, and I’m still about 8 kg (17 lb) above my “ideal” weight. 

My goal for this year is to lose that 8 kg, and continue working on my health and fitness through maintaining the exercise and eating routines I’ve developed over the last six months.

Looking Forward 

I’m excited about what this year brings. What about you? What are your goals? How are you going to achieve them? Do you regularly goal-set throughout the year, or are you a “New Year’s Resolution” kind of person?

*If you don’t know what a SMART goal is, you’re missing out on a great tool for finding success. There are plenty of resources in print and on the ‘net to explain them, so I won’t go into too much detail. Let it suffice to say that any goal you set should be Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, and Tangible/Time specific.

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