Tag Archives: goals

New Year, Same Goals

Welcome, 2017! Make yourself at home. You’ll be here for a while.

Don’t mind the mess. I’ve been working on my goals. Yes, the same goals every year. I’m hoping one day to meet at least one of them.

Thanks for throwing confetti and singing dance songs. I know you’re just trying to get me to smile. I’m sorry I’m not much for partying right now. It’s been a rough start, ruminating on all the things I thought I would have accomplished with half of my life already over. My boyfriend says I’m successfully living Plan B. But, honestly, who wants to proudly say they aren’t achieving their goals, but life is good?

My boyfriend insists the goals I have set out for myself can only be obtained through luck, and it’s not my fault that I’m unlucky.
He’s not the only one who believes this myth. My youngest sister says we were cursed by Di Suk, the oldest uncle on the Chinese side of the family, who said we weren’t really Lams because we were girls and we would eventually marry and become part of our husbands’ families. None of the Lam girls are currently married. They might have been married, but they’re divorced now. They might be dating or living with a man, but they have never become part of anyone else’s family. They are still Lams. My youngest sister says the curse can be broken if one of us marries a Chinese man. She is currently dating an Asian in the hopes of breaking the curse.

I’m not superstitious although I am religious and some people say it’s the same thing. I believe there is a Higher Power who guides the universe and that His Will is often not my own. Often I’ve prayed to align myself with God’s Will in the hopes of reconciling my life with a life of the Greater Good. Only I think I’m miserable because of it.

I know you’re about new beginnings, 2017, and you didn’t come here to listen to me complain, which has become a daily habit, from what you’ve said. I just wish I had already marked those goals off my spreadsheet and created something new to work toward and achieve.

At least I’m not like the people who risk their lives to climb Mt. Everest. Some die even after reaching the top. I don’t know if it’s a happy ending or not. But at the very least, they’ve accomplished something.

Oh, all right. I’ll indulge you with a toast. Here’s to working toward one goal this year, even if it means we must die, either physically or metaphysically, because without a goal there is no passion, and without passion, there is no reason for living, and living is what we are here to do, right, 2017?

A Look Ahead to 2015

Inspire Banner

“A goal is nothing more than a dream with a deadline.” Napoleon Hill

Usually I take a moment to set goals for the upcoming year. However, after a grueling year of too much work and not enough play and too much stress and not enough relaxation, the last thing I want to do is endure another set of to-dos on top of the ones I already have outlined for me by others.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any goals or dreams or New Year’s Resolutions. It means I don’t want to commit to the same structure I have been accustomed to using. No list on the back of the front door with each task clearly marked with a deadline. No dream boards floating above my keyboard. It’s already too much having a calendar clearly marked with essential items to complete, both professionally and personally, each day of the year.

But if I look at my overall goals, they boil down into two general categories: professional and personal. My professional goals can be further broken down into my different jobs and what I hope to accomplish from each this year. My personal goals can be broken down into my interpersonal relationships, my spiritual relationships, and my relationship with myself.

In my writing life, I would like to find an appropriate publisher for my sweet romance, Just Juliet, and I would like to have a successful launch for my memoir, Red Eggs and Good Luck. I’m not committing to any other writing projects at the moment, although I have plenty to tackle if I decide to change my mind.

In my personal life, I would like to express my appreciation through each interaction I have, no matter how brief or seemingly insignificant each encounter might be. I feel it’s imperative that I take each thought, action, and feeling both with the curiosity and joy of a newborn and the gravity and depth of someone near death for it is only through an awareness of the ephemeral that we may touch upon the eternal.

How are you approaching 2015? Click on the “Comment” next to the title and a box will appear for you to express your thoughts. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

2014, a Retrospective

As the end of the year winds down with the upcoming holidays, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the goals I had set for 2014.

Continue to write for national and international magazines
. Although I queried and submitted numerous articles and essays this year, none of them resulted in a sale.

Find an agent. My quest for an agent led to a request for a point-of-view rewrite of my crime novel. I am still struggling on how to restructure a 100,000 word story originally told from six rotating points of view into a coherent narrative told from the point-of-view of the antagonist. I have currently set the project aside after a couple of false starts to determine the direction I want to take to satisfy both the agent and the creative process.

Paint. I’ve successfully managed to complete a handful of new paintings this year. I entered the National Arts Program, but missed the deadline to submit entries to the Harvest Fair. Next year, I plan to continue painting and possibly pursue any additional opportunities related to the visual arts.

Dance. I did not manage to find a dance studio that met the times I was available to dance. I have, however, successfully completed my rehabilitation program with Dr. Caleb Ridgway and am scheduled to run several races in 2015.

Work less, play more. Unfortunately, I encountered several plot twists in my life that required I work much more and play much less. Since every time I plan a goal of finding a way to work only one job to support my family, it always seems to lead to working several jobs to keep up with just the regular bills, I’ve decided to dream big and wish for a windfall that will eliminate all financials worries. In the meantime, I’ll continue working as many jobs as I can to earn as much as my family needs.

Greatest surprise of 2014? Winning the Memoir Discovery Contest sponsored by She Writes Press and Serendipity Literary Agency.

Did you meet your goals for 2014? Do you have any goals set for 2015?

Gratitude is Attitude

“Always the bride’s maid, never the bride,” I said, when my daughter was asked to the Homecoming Dance as a freshman.

“That’s not true,” my husband said. “You’ve been the bride.”

He was right, both literally and metaphorically.

Although I was using the cliché to describe a disappointment in my life, my husband’s observation brought my perspective into focus. I had a bad habit of taking the tiny victories in my life for granted because I was too preoccupied working toward bigger, better dreams.

Unlike other people who can savor their achievements, I seem to skip ahead to the next milestone without blinking. When I fail to reach the next goal in a timely manner, I collapse into despair. I dwell on what I haven’t achieved instead of being grateful for everything I have accomplished.

Yes, I didn’t attend the Homecoming Dance as a freshman. But I did attend my Senior Ball.

Yes, my first novel was self-published. But my second novel was purchased by a Canadian publisher.

Yes, my artwork wasn’t selected as a background selection for checks through a licensing company. But my original paintings grace living rooms and offices in North America.

Yes, I still hold a full-time job in a less than creative field. But I am able to offer creative solutions to corporate problems because my imagination is agile from the daily exercise of writing and painting in my off hours.

Instead of comparing my success and failure to others, I need to focus on myself and my growth as a person, a writer, and an artist. There will always be others who are more or less successful. The key is to be grateful for the success I’ve earned while I continue to strive for more.

Because you can only be a bride for a limited number of times, but you can be a bride’s maid for as many times as you are asked by as many people as you may know. Your big successes will be few, but your tiny victories will be plentiful. It’s those victories you need to cherish.

WRITERS ARE ATHLETES

Santa Rosa Marathon

What does a writer have in common with an athlete?

A lot.

Hard as it may be to imagine the sedentary, day dreamy lifestyle of a writer as comparable with the action-packed, movement-filled lifestyle of an athlete, writers and athletes travel a parallel path toward success.

Here’s what I’ve learned from sports rehabilitation and writing through the trenches:

YOU MUST SET A GOAL

Athletes must have an objective: win a gold medal in the Olympics, run a marathon, or qualify to play on a local softball team.

Without a contract or a deadline, no one cares whether or not you show up at your desk to write. You must set a goal and work toward it. You might want to query your favorite magazine, write a book proposal, finish a short story, or land a book deal or find an agent to represent you. Any of these goals is good enough to get you started.

YOU MUST CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

An athlete is disciplined. Training schedules must be followed. Diets must be balanced. Sleep must be maintained. An entire lifestyle must encompass the athlete in order for the goal to be achieved.

Writers must also be disciplined. Set a writing schedule. Follow it. Make sure you eat right to think right. Exercise the body to exercise the brain. Sleep long and deeply so that creativity may be replenished. A writer must create a lifestyle to support the creative habit and allow it to flourish.

YOU MUST HAVE A SUPPORT TEAM

Athletes get injured, miss milestones, reset goals, and even fail. Writers are no different.

Athletes surround themselves with doctors, nutritionists, rehabilitation experts, sports psychologists, and coaches to build up the support team needed to sustain them through the ups and downs of training toward a goal.

Writers must surround themselves with people who support their writing: family and friends, fellow writers, editors, publishers, marketing experts, agents, attorneys, and people in other creative disciplines such as acting, music, and art.

Does an athlete cross the finish line alone? No. The support team is in the crowd, cheering the athlete on, celebrating the victory.

When you sign your publishing contract, you are not alone. Your support team is behind you, cheering you on, celebrating your victory.

The same is true with failure: you do not fail alone. Others are there to go over the play-by-play, break it down, analyze what went wrong and why, and help create a winning strategy for the future.

YOU MUST EXHIBIT GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP

Good sportsmanship means thinking of others: teammates and opponents. An athlete who exhibits good sportsmanship wins with humility and fails with grace.

Be kind. Be gracious. Be magnanimous.

Be a good sport.

Celebrate the success of other writers. Someday those same writers will celebrate your success.

Whether you are an athlete or a writer, the journey is the same: a life tailored around achieving a goal with the help of a support team in the midst of opponents who will push you to give your all in the pursuit of your dreams.



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Some Goals, Not Resolutions, for 2014

2014 Goals

As we finish the holiday season with our sights on the new year, it’s time to set some goals.

Here are a few of my goals for 2014:

Continue to write for national and international magazines. While I did get the opportunity to return to writing for magazines, a lot of the markets I used to write for have either gone out of business, changed ownership, or no longer pay. Ironically, it has been through the search for a cure for my ailing daughter that new writing opportunities have surfaced. I’m starting to become a wellness expert and have been asked by national and international magazines to write articles on medical research, health, and wellness. I hope to continue writing in these industries, bridging the gap between trade publications and the consumer, through articles that educate, enlighten, and inspire.

Find an agent. Although I have queried and queried and queried, I have yet to find an agent willing to work with me on either my fiction or non-fiction books. I have politely declined quite a few opportunities with small and mid-list publishers in the hopes that I can acquire an agent who will represent me better than I’ve been able to represent myself, but that might change in 2014 if an opportunity to work with a mid-list publisher arises that I can negotiate myself. Books don’t work well sitting on the hard drive when there is a world of readers out there who might benefit from them.

Paint. My art has taken a backseat to writing these past two years while I tried to replace my income. Now that I’ve found a comfortable balance between my day job and my freelance work, I am hoping to carve out more time to return to my first love: visual art.

Dance. With the closing of Custom Health and Fitness, I have been working with a running specialist to rehabilitate my knee so I can participate in the company 5ks, 10ks, ½ and full marathons. I would like to find a studio that caters to adult dancers. The place I used to go to has since closed. I deeply miss the discipline of ballet and the freedom I feel when I am leaping across the dance floor. It’s better than a runner’s high.

Work less, play more. This is probably the toughest one to accomplish in 2014. I am a highly ambitious person who is married to an equally ambitious man. We both want way more out of life than life is sometimes willing to give, and neither one of us is able to settle, which translates into long working hours with less time as a family. Hopefully, if we can find a cure for our daughter’s illness, we can travel as a family, even if that travel is tied to work. Keep your fingers crossed!

That’s more than enough to keep me busy in the New Year.

How about you? What are your goals for 2014?


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Resilience

Girl Jumping on Bed

“A hard fall means a high bounce…if you’re made of the right material.” –Unknown

Every single phenomenal story seems to take the same route: guy has a dream, guy fights and sacrifices and loses everything for his dream, but at the last possible moment, his dream comes true and everything is restored.

This week I endured another round of rejection. Everyone who read my query, synopsis, and sample chapters said the same thing: we love your writing, but we hate your concept.

Concept is the core story. Changing it is the equivalent of starting over and writing a completely different book.

Or is it?

When I asked the last literary agent what she meant by her comment, she suggested I just keep dating to see if I can find the right match without changing my hair color, losing 20 pounds, and getting Lasik surgery. In other words, she didn’t want me to gut my story and start over.

“If 65 agents say the same thing, then you should probably rethink your concept,” she said. “Anything less, I would keep looking.”

I’m only down to a dozen rejections. That leaves 53 more to go before I have to sharpen my pencil.

In the meantime, I have to stop fretting and doubting and worrying.

The only way to do that is to continue working.

After all, as the stakes keep getting higher and the sacrifices keep getting bigger, the payoff gets better.

Don’t let the rejections keep you down. Bounce back, higher and higher. Continue to strive toward your goals.



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