I used to do the whole New Year’s resolutions thing, and I failed miserably. Invariably they involved losing weight, giving up bad habits, exercising more. I’d be good for maybe the first week, and then it would all fall by the wayside.
This year, I’m trying something new and so far it seems to be working. I’ve set goals for myself that don’t have to do with how I look or how I eat–though we’ve been working toward a healthier way of eating for the past couple of years. These goals involve what I hope to accomplish. They’re about writing, about getting organized, about getting my life together.
Writing–my goal this year is to write every day. Even when I don’t want to, even when the words don’t want to come, even when life interferes. I didn’t set a word goal, just the goal to write something. Every single day.
Getting organized–my goal is to do something every day. Accomplish something. Clean out a drawer, a closet, a box, a file. Get rid of some clutter. File receipts. Doesn’t really matter what, so long as I do something.
Getting my life together–this one is harder. I don’t know exactly what it is that is out of kilter, just that something is. So I’m exploring options. Education, a new job with insurance benefits, making moves toward a dream of getting an RV and traveling part of the year. I’ve sent out resumes, looked into online advanced degree programs, joined some full-time RV groups to glean ideas, and started a planning notebook. Maybe I won’t get my life together this year, but I will make progress.
A few other things I’ve done this year is cut back expenses to the bare bones. The only time I’ve left my house all month is to go to the grocery store, where I buy only what I need to fix the meals I’ve planned for the next two weeks. I shop the outside aisles, only venturing into the dangerous inner aisles when I need a specific item on my list. So far I’ve slashed the grocery bill in half by not aimlessly wandering the aisles. We haven’t spent a dime on eating out, haven’t wasted money on a movie, haven’t gone shopping for non-food items.
I know I can’t sustain this frugal existence for the whole year. I have a son getting married this year, I have to go visit my mom in Colorado because she’s at the point where she can’t come to us, and there are birthdays and grandkid events we’ll need to attend. But right now I still have the same gas in my tank that I started the year with, and I’m pretty happy about that.
I’ve passed up a great deal on two leather recliners because now is not the best time to spend money I don’t have to spend. I’ve passed up a great deal on flannel sheets because the ones we have are good enough. Not great, but enough for this season. I’ve passed up great deals on laptops because mine hasn’t quit yet. If it does, I’m in trouble, but I’m hoping it will get me through another year.
If I’d started this 40 years ago, we’d be in a lot better shape than we are now. Like they say, hindsight is 20-20, and I didn’t have the ability in my 20’s to look ahead and see what I would need when I was 60, what I would wish I’d done when I was younger. But what about you? If you’re under 40, start now and look ahead. Do what you can now to prepare for the days ahead when you won’t have the strength, the finances, the mental clarity to do the things you want to do. Get your life together while you can.
I think that’s one reason I tend to write heroines who know what they want and go after it. I never knew what I wanted as a teenager or young adult. I wandered through life aimlessly, like I used to do at the grocery store, and it’s cost me. I don’t want to be that way anymore, so I’m trying to live my life with purpose, making it happen rather than letting it happen.
My book sales started plummeting a couple of months ago, and for a while I let it happen, blaming the Amazon KU program, the lack of a new book release, etc. Then I decided to put Blame it on Texas up for free on Amazon. It’s the first book in the seven-book Lone Star Cowboys series. I was nervous, worried about losing the income from one of my biggest selling books. But I wasn’t going to let life happen anymore. If I wanted more sales, I had to make it happen.
It worked. My sales are back up to normal levels, I have 14 great new reviews and some new fans, and sales of subsequent books in the series are increasing every day.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Set Goals? How is it working out for you so far?