What are you reading? Top 5 from 2020

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Assuming you agree 2020 proved to be a year like no other—at least in our lifetime—you might find yourself in one of two camps: during the past 12 months, you read more than ever (whether to escape reality or to preserve your mental health or all of the above); or, you remained unable to read anything other than your pervading news feeds (understandable). Regardless of which camp you reside, if one of your New Year’s goals includes reading [more], check out my Top 5 from 2020:

  1. Greg Olsen’s “Lying Next to Me“—for fans of suspense
  2. Gay Hendricks’ “The Big Leap”—addresses limiting beliefs & finding your “zone of genius”
  3. Scott Allan’s “Do it Scared”—shares techniques to charge forward with confidence
  4. Alice Feeney’s “Sometimes I Lie”—takes readers on a psychological thrill ride (eked into 2021)
  5. Tina Radcliffe’s “Finding the Road Home“—for lovers of stories with heart, humor & faith

What book did you read last year and recommend?

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Starting out strong: face meets brick wall

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The title of this post pretty much describes how 2021 started out in my world. Running (okay, power walking) on a full tank and starting out strong. And then face planting. Nothing says “new year” like a boatload of resolutions, goals and aspirations, right? Herein lies the struggle: tackling #allthethings and maintaining momentum. I remember my excitement while planning out my goals for the year—divided into quarters, broken down into months and weeks—with each month comprising categories, such as personal growth, work/vocation, health & fitness, etc. But here’s where face meets brick wall: expecting (and doing) too much (too soon!). Once again, that requires taking my own advice. As listed in goal-setting tips + trips, a good rule of thumb can be found by practicing SMART planning. However, it also means setting no more than 1-3 important goals each morning—and then tackling the task(s) likely to have the biggest positive impact on your life—or “eating the frog.”

How does your year look thus far?

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Goal-setting tips + tricks for 2021

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If you’re like me, you might be looking at the calendar and thinking: “How can it already be mid-January?” Granted, while it’s a new year, the weight of 2020’s baggage nevertheless lingers. Also, I’m still trying to establish my goals for the next 12 months. For those who might need a little extra push, I’ve compiled a list of “Top 10” links (in no particular order) that focus on goal-setting tips and tricks for 2021. And, if you wonder about the worth of goal setting, according to Forbes: people with goals prove 10 times more likely to succeed. Good odds in my opinion.

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikekappel/2020/12/10/become-a-pro-at-setting-business-goals-in-the-new-year-with-these-6-tips/?sh=3894eeb83900: be specific + celebrate milestones
  2. https://www.greeleytribune.com/2020/12/29/tips-and-tricks-to-goal-setting-for-a-successful-2021/: get support + embrace failure
  3. https://rdicorp.com/4-tips-on-goal-setting-set-yourself-up-for-success-in-2021/: be SMART
  4. https://medium.com/@KellySchuknecht/7-goal-setting-tips-to-make-2021-the-best-year-ever-17926e76127c: think outside the box
  5. https://www.coaching-online.org/goals-for-2021/: think about the “why”
  6. https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/smart-goal-setting: make it measurable
  7. https://dirtybootsandmessyhair.com/a-guide-to-effective-goal-setting/: make it relevant
  8. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm: create an action plan
  9. https://benjaminhardy.com/if-you-dont-believe-in-setting-goals-its-because-you-dont-know-how-to-do-it/: adopt a growth mindset
  10. https://alwaysthewritetime.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/setting-goals-isnt-brain-surgery/: stick to it

What’s your favorite goal-setting link, tip and/or trick?

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Pace yourself: how to ‘win the race’

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For several weeks now, I’ve posted a blog every Tuesday. Although I can prepare posts in advance to be deployed on any given day, last week I forgot. One year, I actually challenged myself to post a blog per day—equaling 365 posts at 168 words each for a total of 61,824 words. The size of an average-length novel. Kind of sobering and the segue into today’s post about pacing ourselves, which applies to most areas in our lives. It proved especially true the morning I embarked on a hike in the middle of a Phoenix, Arizona summer: If I wanted to “win the race,” this meant a slow and steady pace (plus frequent hydration breaks). That’s when I also realized my sporadic writing sprints—followed by limited to no activity—did nothing to advance my literary goals. However, if instead, I maintain a minimum 168-word-a-day pace, one day (like today), I’ll look back and view all the ground I’ve covered.

Where do you need to pace yourself?

Photo credit: B.A.S.

Mid-year check-and-balance: planning for the road ahead

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Mid-year: we meet again. Although vastly different than I would guess most of us envisioned at the start of 2020, I still think it’s important to review our aspirations and perform a check-and-balance; in other words, What goals need to stay, pivot (e.g., change) or go? For instance, I learned if I plan to remain in alignment with my vision, I must begin treating my passion for all-things fairytale like a second (albeit part-time) job by sacrificing the necessary time to hone my craft—from participating in writing courses, planning workshops and online readers’ and writers’ groups, to subscribing to craft-related blog pages and podcasts. But I also realized I’ve neglected other areas essential to my vocation. By taking stock, we can better see the big picture, break it down into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle our intentions over the remaining two quarters. And sometimes, we simply need to pencil in “white space” to dream about those happily-ever-afters.

How has the first half of 2020 informed your second half?

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Looking within: discovering plenty amidst the lack

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As I mentioned in my post, “Another way to look at the pandemic ‘pause,’” I’m discovering new things about myself since 2020 took a major detour. While much becomes ingrained in our habits and thought processes simply because “that’s the way I’ve always done it,” the current COVID-19 climate has required a mandatory “pivoting” of our mindsets. One shining example: When my daughter’s gym temporarily closed due to the social-distancing order, it crushed her. Although she knew it afforded a minor inconvenience overall, she dreaded a derailment of her fitness goals. However, after a short-lived pity party, she soon realized that everything she needed to maintain her daily practice stared her in the face. In fact, she recently conquered—and exceeded—her goals. But not without inner resolve, a dash of creativity and a boatload of fierce grit. I couldn’t be prouder of her. It’s heartening how a global crisis can reveal the best within us. If we let it.

Where have you discovered plenty amidst the lack?

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Time to grow: doing the right things, at the right time

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While in the process of doing “all the things,” I discovered: I can’t do all the things. After a year of searching for the perfect time management and goal planning strategies, I’ve taken a step back. In fact, I’m starting over. Why? Because I wasn’t making headway. The overabundance of resources at my disposal paralyzed me—until I discovered a practice that meshes with the way I’m wired and can be tweaked as needed (aka because life). In January, it began with a big picture mental image birthed from a vision board workshop, which advised a series of goal mapping. From there, I developed quarterly and monthly goals, followed by measurable action steps and a weekly task list (in progress). And with my big picture vision at the forefront, I plan to regularly assess what’s working and what’s not working to plot consecutive quarters and so on. Now I can do all the things. The right things. At the right time.

How do you manage all the things?

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How to determine if you’re an amateur or a professional

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In a recent post, I talk about taking massive action to fight for your goals. The article I reference focuses on the importance of changing our mindsets. And that it isn’t just trying something once, or trying and failing and then quitting. It means trying until we get the results we want; i.e., mastering daily habits that ultimately lead to success. According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits and the creator of the Habits Academy, it’s about the power of schedule and creating a daily routine. Clear says, “Stop waiting for motivation or creative inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits. This is the difference between professionals and amateurs. Professionals set a schedule and stick to it. Amateurs wait until they feel inspired or motivated.” Further, give yourself permission to deliver a less-than-average outcome. “The only way to be consistent enough to make a masterpiece is to give yourself permission to create junk along the way.”

So what’s the verdict—amateur or pro?

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Taking massive action: fight for your goals

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I’ve mentioned a friend of mine—KM—in previous posts. We met during a four-day writers’ retreat in Port Townsend and, in some ways, I’m surprised by our connection; in other ways, it makes sense. As she once said to me: It just is. Over time, she’s become a sounding board, the voice of reason (aka my conscience), a cheerleader and mentor of sorts. My hope: to reciprocate in kind. Recently, KM emailed me one such token of her “tribal” (e.g., the battle cry of writers, bloggers, yogis, etc.) affection—a link to an article intended, I believe, to make me think (she’s subtle like that) about why I haven’t been fighting for my goals. After all, I’ve always believed if you want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. A word of caution: avoid hinging that something on someone else. We must pick up the gauntlet and take massive action by fighting for ourselves.

Are you ready to take massive action?

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Taming the monkeys: Part VI, the glue + tip #2

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Words we speak about an experience become the experience.
~ Derek Hough

In my post, “…Part V and thinking SMART,” I review nighttime routines and working smarter. Plus, I promise to reveal the glue that holds it all together: consistency. If you’re not seeing results, crushing your goals or manifesting your dreams, try sticking to a consistent habit, goal or practice until 1) either change occurs or 2) you need to try something new. Oh, and tip #2 that KM gave me at the start of my 45-day challenge? Quit complaining. The hard truth: complaining attracts negativity and misfortune. Don’t believe me? Try this at home (aka everywhere): Wear a rubber band on your wrist, snap it each time you complain and then switch wrists. But attempt to keep it on the same wrist for 21 days and watch what happens. Bonus: incorporate five minutes of focused gratitude into your morning routine. Check out these other resources: James R. Doty, simplemind.eu/how-to-mind-map/examples/goals, zapier.com/blog/smart-goals/.

Are you ready to attract abundance?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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