Significantly-More-Probable Goals 2014

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the new year again. We’ve crossed that barrier over into 2014 and are busy rubbing our eyes and staring ahead to all the possibilities that a new year holds. Personally, I find myself curled up on the couch under my new TARDIS blanket, plucking away this post while my husband and daughter are still asleep, hoping fervently that how I feel this morning is not a sign of what the year to come will be like. Begone, mysterious aches and pains! Go afflict someone who is actually old enough to feel this sore!

Anyway, this post isn’t about the fact that I seem to be suffering from an exceptionally painful cold (without any of the other symptoms). This post is about the fact that it is January 1st, a day rife with possibilities. What will the new year hold?

Well first of all, some of you may have guessed from this post that I wrote on Monday, that I’m going to be returning to the oil sands soon. Yes, after six straight months of glorious freedom unemployment, I’m set to begin work on the other side of the country again, starting the 21st of this month, with the same company and the same schedule that I had last time. This comes with mixed feelings, of course. It won’t be fun to leave my husband and daughter for half of every month again, and since I’ll be returning to the field instead of the control room I will find myself in a very difficult-to-get-any-writing-done position, but I do love the company, and it will be great to have some income again. What really worries me is that I’m going to be heading out to Northern Alberta in what is usually the coldest month, after having been snuggled all warm and cozy in the control room for the last half of last winter. My body may go through a bit of a shock. Luckily we always work in teams of two out there, so there will be someone to drag my frozen solid ass back to the trailers every day. Wish me luck, people. Wish me luck.

"Don't worry, ma. You go out West. I'll handle this!"
“Don’t worry, ma. You go out West. I’ll handle this!”

Secondly, since it’s a near year it’s time for new goals. At the beginning of 2013 I wrote out three “Wildly Improbable Goals”. Technically, I failed on all three of them, but having them down as goals definitely helped me get some things done, make some changes in my life and my way of thinking, and overall I had a rather productive year, as compared to previous years.

This year I’ve decided that I’m going to be a little less “Wildly Improbable” and a bit more, “you damn-well know that you can do this, so DO IT” with my goals. I want my goals to be things that I know I can complete, if I’d just get off my ass and work on them. So let’s start, shall we?

Goal #1: Lose at least ten pounds and become healthier overall.

I know, I know…don’t look at me like that. This is not one of those, “oh, it’s the new year so I’m going to buy a bunch of exercise equipment that I’ll only use for two weeks before it becomes a coat rack” kind of goals.

You see, I’ve been getting older, and the genes that my parents passed down to me don’t like that. I’ll be turning 30 in 2014, and while that is still pretty damn young to most people, to my physical being it’s like hitting the countdown to complete bodily failure. Things are starting to catch up with me, and I don’t like them.

For one thing, I seem to have inherited a wonderful trait from my father, wherein every second thing that I eat makes me feel like little needle-clawed demons are trying to rip their way out of my digestive tract. My father dealt with this for years before a doctor basically told him to eat a lot more fiber, and oh, throw some yogurt in there too. It sounds like a throwaway answer, but my dad has been doing great, so part of my health goal for this year is to make sure that there is always lots of fiber in my diet. Hopefully the result will be a calmer, less-demon-infested stomach.

The “at least 10 pounds” part of the goal is in there because, to be honest, I’m falling apart at the seams and I blame a good part of that on the extra 20-40 lbs that is hanging on to my body. I’m perfectly fine with the way I look right now, but I’m not fine with the way I feel. Even before the mysterious New Year’s aches-and-pains from hell, I’ve been feeling pretty crappy most of the time. I’m always sore in one spot or another, I’m extremely lethargic most of the time, and I’m so cranky and slow on a regular basis that it makes it very difficult to play with my daughter. I really believe that most of this could be fixed by losing a bit of weight (and, obviously, being more active in general), so I’m making it a goal. I’m not worried about getting down to what I perceive as the “proper” weight…I’m just going to worry about the first 10 pounds and then move on from there. Are we all cool with that? Okay, good.

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

2013 saw a lot of ups and downs for me as far as the whole social media = great author platform thing. I always managed to keep pressing forward with my blog, but other forms of social media often fell by the wayside. Twitter is one of the greatest things out there for connecting with other writers, agents, publishers, readers, and so on, and it only takes a few seconds to type up a Tweet, and yet I regularly go for weeks without Tweeting a single thing aside from the auto-Tweets that WordPress shoots out when I write a blog post.

This year I want to be more active and more diligent with my author platform. I want to show people that, yes, I’m really here, and hey, how are you doing today? More and more this is becoming an extremely important part of being a successful writer, and I don’t want to be left behind in the dust.

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

This one feels more “wildly improbable” than the others, but it’s not…it’s NOT, dammit!

I spent the last year trying to finish editing on my manuscript, and that task is almost complete. I already have a beta-reader lined up to swap manuscripts with. This year is going to be the year of really, truly, finishing a novel. I know that my manuscript has problems even before my beta-reader touches it, but I plan to sit back and wait to hear what she has to say, and then work my ass off once she hands it back. If at all possible I want to publish by the end of this year. I want my zombie novel to be out there before zombies stop being something that people want to read about (which is why I definitely will not be going with traditional publishing…man, you guys are SLOW). This is a big thing for me. By the end of 2014 I want to be a published author.

And to all my religious friends, your prays are totally welcome on this one. 😛

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

Last year I made the Wildly Improbable Goal to write one million words over the course of a year. Though that goal turned out to be completely out of my league (it didn’t occur to me until halfway through the first month that this would be over 83,000 words a month), I did end up writing significantly more words in 2013 than in any year previous…possibly in all the years previous.

I came with in striking distance of 500,000 words last year, so this year I want to exceed that goal and beat my own personal record. Half a mil over the course of a year is just over 41,000 words a month. Judging from last year it will be difficult, but I have faith that I’ll be able to pull it off.

                                                           

And there you have it. Four goals for the New Year, all of them significantly more probable than not. I’m going to continue on with my accountability posts (though they’ll be moving to Wednesdays now) because personally I find nothing helps with a goal so much as admitting to the general public that you haven’t been working on it. 😛

How about it, friends and fellow bloggers? What are your goals for the New Year?

Upholding a Proud Tradition of Stolen Ideas…

Well the New Year has come and gone. I had a nice quiet night with my husband, our daughter, and my inlaws, sitting at home watching ridiculous shows and having a few drinks. My daughter ran around like a maniac until a few minutes before the ball dropped, at which point she cheered with the rest of us – despite having no idea what was happening – and then promptly conked out while snuggled up over my shoulder. It was a pretty good night.

But since then I’ve been think about resolutions. I’m not a big resolution person because I don’t see why January deserves to see us pronounce to change ourselves for the better any more than any other month does. It’s no easier to lose weight in January than in July, so what’s the big deal about “New Years” resolutions?

Then I stumbled across dianemackinnon‘s post, Wildly Improbable Goals 2013, in which Diane lists her goals for 2013, which are (did you guess?) wildly improbable. Not impossible, you’ll notice, but improbable. Wildly improbable.

Her vein of thinking, it seems, is, “How awesome would it feel to make a wildly improbable goal and actually achieve it?” And here I sit, finding myself nodding in agreement. It would feel awesome. What is there to lose? Failing at a wildly improbable goal would be no more frustrating than failing at an entirely probable goal, but succeeding…now that would really be something.

So here we go…Tracey’s wildly improbable goals for 2013:

1. Get into some kind of shape that makes me feel good about my body again…I’m not looking at a particular amount of weight-loss or anything specific, just a state of physical being that I feel good about. I slate this as a wildly improbable goal because, as I’ve mentioned before, my work schedule makes devoting time to such a thing particularly difficult.

2. Finish editing my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide. It’s time to get this f’er on the shelves, damn it!

3. Write 1,000,000 words in 2013. This is the big one. Where am I going to find the time? I have no idea. But between blog posts, drabbles, new stories, and new scenes added to NtH during editing, I want to accomplish a total word count of ONE MILLION words by the end of 2013. Wouldn’t that be something? I think it would.

So there you have it. I’m putting myself at the mercy of a trio of wildly improbable goals and I’m putting them right out here for everyone to see and hold me accountable. Hold me accountable, damn it!

When I get around to it (ie: when I get enough sleep at this godforsaken camp to be able to think about such things) I’ll make up a couple of progress bars for my goals so you can all watch me probably fail but maybe succeed.

Here’s to the wildly improbable hopes of 2013!

The Failure/Retry Ratio

I remember once reading an article about why people fail the New Year’s Resolutions (or goals in general). There were a variety of reasons, such as making your goal too specific (or not specific enough), forcing your goal on others (“My entire family will eat salad all the time because I want to lose weight”), and hitting it too hard all at once (i.e. quitting sugar cold turkey, which inevitably makes you feel like hell from the withdrawal). All of these points make a lot of sense when you really think about them, but there was another point that resonated with me. That was, basically, insisting on seeing setbacks as failure.

I’ve always been a tracker, by nature. Trying to lose weight? I write down everything I eat and every minute of exercise I perform. Want to keep track of my spending habits? I create a detailed notebook that shows every cent I spend and when each of my bills is paid. Goal to write 1000 words a day? I’ve got to track each word and what it was written for.

And the thing is, when it comes to my tracking, I can be a bit…obsessive compulsive. I don’t know why, but for some reason when it comes to stuff like this, one little mistake makes me lose my mind. If I miss a day of writing down what I’ve eaten and can’t remember what I ate in order to write it down, I’ve FAILED. If I lose track of some of the money I spent and my numbers don’t add up perfectly, I’ve FAILED. And if I miss a day of writing my 1000 words and have to look at a blank spot on my tracker, I’ve UBER-SUPER-FAILED!

“Seeing setbacks as failure”, you see? In the article it referred to such things as missing a few days of exercise and completely giving up on your health goals because of it. My issues are similar. Did anyone notice that I didn’t post my 1000-word-a-day results last week? The reason is because I wrote less than 1000 words that entire week. I not only failed, I failed miserably, so much so that it wasn’t even worth talking about.

Fortunately, unlike the examples in the goal-failure article, when I find myself “failing” as the result of a “setback”, I have a tendency to just start all over again. I’ll throw out my tracking results and start from scratch with a fresh new piece of paper, Excel file, or whatever I happen to be using, and I’ll get back on the horse. Sometimes it won’t be right away (I have a related obsession where my goals have to start on a Sunday or the 1st of the month), but it eventually does happen. Without this attitude I would never have lost the weight I wanted to lose before my wedding. With this attitude I will eventually finish this damn zombie novel.

With that said, I would like to report that I had a truly excellent week after restarting my tracking efforts. Following are my word-counts for last week:

Sunday – 1140
Monday – 1098
Tuesday – 1074
Wednesday – 1047
Thursday – 1402
Friday – 1432
Saturday – 1788

With this past week, my zombie novel is getting very close to completion. Mind you there’s still a lot of editing to do, but just to complete a novel….that’s going to be a huge deal for me, so wish me luck that I keep doing as well in the coming week! 😀