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Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring Cleaning

It’s that time again: Spring! And you know what that means…an insane, irrational impulse to clean! I, too, have been known to succumb to the madness at this time of year. But this year is different. I have deadlines to meet, words to produce (and edit), and no desire to bury myself in housework when I could be outside in the sunshine (or immersed in a story inside my head).

But spring cleaning can apply to anything, right? (Hint: The only answer I’ll accept here is an affirmative one.)

By channeling extra springtime energy toward my writing, I’ve been clearing the cobwebs of my story that have gathered into little dust bunnies in my mind. Besides, spring is an excellent reminder that a quarter of the year has gone by. (Actually—and I don’t mean to panic you here—a third of 2012 is already gone! Gasp.)

Spring is also an excellent time to re-evaluate goals set at the beginning of the year, when we were buried in snow (and maybe a few extra pounds from the holidays), to find renewed energy to pursue such goals, and to celebrate the ones we’ve accomplished (or at least made great strides toward).

Who’s up for a little self-evaluation? I’ll go first…

1.) Health: My health goal was to lose 15 pounds and work out more regularly.

How far have I come? I’ve managed to lose five pounds and keep them off. (Yay, me!) I work out 2-4 times a week.

How can I improve? I have another 10 pounds to lose, but given that a third of the year has gone by, I’m right on track. Lately, the workouts have increased in frequency, and that can only be a good thing.

2.) Career/Writing: Finish my latest manuscript. (Actually, I’d love to get two manuscripts out this year.)

How far have I come? I was 50,000 words into a new project (thanks, NaNo!) at the start of the year. I am now at 85,000 words, but the plot is a hot mess (I believe I mentioned the dust bunnies above...). I also have 50,000 words of a different project (thanks to the previous year’s NaNo!).

How can I improve? I’ve set a new deadline with the goal of trading off my manuscript with a fellow writer. Having a concrete deadline will hopefully lead to massive productivity in the next couple weeks. I WILL have a complete and readable draft by May 1st!

3.) Family: Treasure every moment.

How far have I come? One of my goals this year was to live more in the moment. After spending most of 2011 watching a loved one struggle with cancer, I’ve vowed to no longer take things for granted. I think I’m doing a good job of taking more time for myself and my family. One thing I’ve started doing is taking stock of the day at the end of each day and listing the things I accomplished as well as the things for which I’m grateful.

How can I improve? While I feel I’m on course for this goal, I think I need to keep working on appreciating what I HAVE achieved each day instead of focusing on the things I haven’t.

How about you? How will you channel your springtime energy? What goals did you set months ago, and have you taken stock lately? How far have you come and what could you do differently to ensure you get to the finish line?


Rita said...

I have soooo much work to do. I know one thing at a time. But at the rate I progress I will be issuing in the new millennium. that is if we get past Dec 21 of this year.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Me, too, Rita. Me, too. I'm trying to take baby item on my To Do list at a time, and celebrate (at least in a small way) each thing I accomplish.

Toni Anderson said...

I think I needed that reminder, Anne. My house desperately needs a clean and I have lots of work to do, but you have to remember the most important thing is always family and friends. Great job on the goals though!!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Thanks, Toni - and so true. As I get older, I'm realizing how quickly time goes by, and focusing on family and friends becomes more and more important.

The goals (or, rather, achieving them) is a work in progress, but it helps to revisit them from time to time to see how far I've come. Good luck with your work - I give you permission to have a dirty house so you can get other stuff done. LOL

Marcelle Dubé said...

Congratulations on setting realistic goals and working to keep them, Anne Marie. So much better than just meandering through life like someone else I know...

Kathy Ivan said...

I willingly admit that I tend to make to do lists and then do everything else not on the list instead. That includes my writing.

So my critique partner and I have been sending each other the total number of words we've typed at the end of every day. We email just the total words, no sending anything else. It's been one way to keep me focused on at least one task, knowing that I have to be accountable for that thing at the end of the day.

Don't even get me started on the dust dinosaurs living under the beds!

Great post and thanks for the helpful reminders we should be living each life to the fullest.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, Marcelle - such a great point! I forgot to emphasize that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. And I just learned about "SMARTER" goals - adds "Evaluate" and "Reward" to the list, too.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Kathy, I love that you made yourself accountable by emailing someone every day. That is so helpful!

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood has a WInter Writing Festival every year (January & February) and I found it motivating to tally up my point each day (the goal is to get a certain number of points to "win"). But even better was the chat room experience. Having other people to sprint with, and discussing our progress at the end of a time period was SO helpful for me.

Each person is different, I suppose, and has to find what works for them...the key is implementing that system. ;)

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