Life – It’s a Balancing Act – Really!

Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.I’ve read a lot of blogs during the last week or two that mention a goal or resolution of restoring balance in their lives. Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it’s a balancing act.

I find webmd.com to be a source of reliable information. Their article: 5 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance may be helpful to you. I think they are right, we should learn to relax. After all, we could live in Bangladesh and have this guy’s job:

Mayo clinic’s article Work-life balance: Tips to Reclaim Control suggests, among other things, to bolster your support system. I think Henri Fochatin could use a little more support, don’t you? (don’t watch if you have acrophobia, seriously!)

In 5 Essential Zen Habits for Balanced Living, you’re reminded to use awareness and mindfulness, to find some calm in the midst of the madness. How? Allow yourself some downtime. Even just ten or fifteen minutes of time to recharge your inner self. Do what brings you peace. For me, that’s a waterfall in a beautiful setting.
Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

But I think all these articles have missed the mark.
 

Life is chaotic and messy.

Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

Things happen. Suddenly you have to juggle more than one thing at a time.

Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

If you let it, life’s chaos will divert your attention from the things you want to do and from the ones you love. How do you handle it?

With Silliness.

 

Apparently, 2011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

Apparently, 2011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

Laugh, even when things are upside down.
Apparently, 2011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

No matter how small you feel in comparison to the things that keep you from putting your best foot forward, a smile will lift you up.

Make time to have fun.

Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

Most importantly, take a breath. Recognize what you’ve accomplished: the milestones, the successes, the learning that you’ve done, no matter how small. It’s important.

Celebrate!
Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

If in your struggle to find balance, you take the time to do a few of these things, I am certain that you will find

you have soared higher than you think!
Apparently, 2 011 left a lot of people feeling unbalanced for a lot of reasons. Ever the helpful girl scout, I went in search of all things balanced and discovered, as always, it's a balancing act.

It’s a balancing act, this thing we call life. But with all the tools and methods available to you, you can enjoy your balancing act and fly high.

The Road to Success

curvy road ahead sign They say make resolutions. But others say most resolutions fail so don’t make resolutions, make goals. Make long term goals. No, make short term goals. Not only that, they tell you how you must make goals. And each person has their own rules. You could get whiplash from adjusting your plan. Arg! So which way is the road to success?

Clarity First

I’m not telling you to make or not make resolutions. Heck, if not setting goals works for you, go for it! But if you set goals or resolutions last year and you did not get the results you wanted, stop. Do not make another goal or resolution. At least not until after you get some clarity. Clarity about those two things takes precedence over setting goals.

Make a Plan

But, you can know who you are and where you want to go, and still get lost on the trip. If you didn’t meet last year’s goals or resolutions, examine why. It’s imperative that you know why those things didn’t work before you make your list for next year. If you had a long trip to make to a specific location, would you take off and hope you’d get to your destination? No, you’d at least look at a map. You’d choose a route, plan how long it would take, prepare the car, etc. So, think of your resolutions or goals as a road trip. Look at what you had planned for last year. What detours or rest stops did you take and why?

Actions You Can Control

Were your goals dependent upon others? For example, a goal of going to the gym with my husband or best friend is a goal that hinges on someone else’s cooperation. If my goal had been to have a Big Six Publisher publish my book by the end of the year, that’s a goal I cannot control. I can’t make my best friend, nor even my husband, be ready to go to the gym with me. Nor can I make a Big Six Publisher publish my book.

A better goal would have been that I would go to the gym three days a week. Or that I would send my manuscript to one of the big 6 publishers for consideration every three months. Or even I will research each publisher and check if they would be a good match for me.

road to success in 2011

Plan for Roadblocks

Perhaps you were more like Dean Wesley Smith in that a life change created a temporary roadblock. Then in your evaluation of how you did last year, you take that life change under consideration. For example, one year we were in the middle of remodeling my kitchen and disaster struck. A 90-foot tall tree landed on my house. Then, my husband had a 5-way cardiac by-pass followed by a stroke. My goals did not get accomplished. The kitchen remodeling stopped cold, and I got zero, nada, zip writing done in the last 6 months of that year. That meant I had to reevaluate what the road to success was under my new circumstances and adjust. In Dean’s posts, Goals and Dreams 2012 Series, he encourages you to plan how and when to start back writing. Based on my experience, that’s a fantastic idea. Small, specific, achievable goals would have helped me negotiate that roadblock.

Things to Remember

Sometimes, you can’t ever seem to get to the finish line. Did you get stuck in a ‘must be perfect loop’ never finishing your project? Or were you too tired or not in the mood and so accomplished less than you had planned? If perfectionism or moods get in your way, read Kristin Lamb’s take on 2012 and Planning for Success in the New Year.

Appropriate-Sized

Perhaps on your road to success, you had goals that were ‘too big.’ For example, your resolution to lose 50 pounds in three months is not only huge; it may not be safe to accomplish in that time period. Or if your goal had been to write the first draft of two novels and revise another novel AND you work a full-time job outside of writing, you have a family or moved, had a new baby, etc., those goals may have been demanding too much of yourself. That’s like trying to drive from Key West, Florida to Point Barrow, Alaska (approximately 5,500 miles or 8,800 km) without a pit stop. Look at this marathon runner’s post on the danger of setting big goals and learn about his motto: Think Big, Act Small, Start Today.

Time-Specific

Perhaps last year’s goals or resolutions had an indefinite future. In this case, your roadmap may have taken you on multiple detours. See Coleen Patrick’s post about indefinite future goals.

Specific, Actionable Goals

Vague goals like: I’ll start blogging, I’ll lose weight, I’ll control my diabetes, or I’ll take a trip to Australia can set you up for roadblocks. These goals have the potential to be great goals, but you need to have a plan that is specific. Specific like, I will read three books on blogging and follow 4 blogs for three months. That will help me plan how to fit blogging into my life. Or for your diet, you could say that for the next three months you will eat a salad at lunch and dinner 4 out of 7 days a week. Or I’ll save X number of dollars per week for X weeks and take my trip to Australia in a specific month of a specific year. See more about how to make SMART goals in the post Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting.

Baby Steps

If you need more help to set goals that are baby steps. Read about ROW80. This kind of goal setting allows for future needs. It allows for unplanned life events or learning something new or changing your mind. With short-term goals, you can easily adjust your goals.

My Road to Success

I don’t know about you, but after reading all these wonderful posts, I will spend January looking at the goals I want for next year. Specific goals that will carry me forward. I will take the long-term goals and break them down into 80-90 day increments. This way I can reevaluate my goals throughout the year and make adjustments as needed.

Remember, the road to Success is NOT straight.

curvy road ahead sign

Did last year go the way you planned? What road to success will you be following for next year?

2011, The Good News

2011 is coming to an end, and for some, not a moment too soon. You might question my sanity with the post title 2011, the good news. There were politicians, businessmen, and celebrities who behaved badly. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes that killed and destroyed. Economies of many nations hover on the brink of collapse. There were heroes who struggled to save, to take a stand, and who perished in that fight. Even on a personal level, I had many challenges that took huge chunks of time to process and overcome.
2011 is coming to an end, and for some, not a moment too soon. You might question my sanity with the post title 2011, the good news.

Many people, particularly the news media, look for the shocking, the tragic or the disheartening stories from the past year. They seem to revel in the ugliness of behaviors and events.

Not me. I am a glass-half-full kind of gal. It’s that attitude, that expectation that helps me see the huge range of good that happens. Despite all the economic downfalls, natural disasters and humans behaving badly, things were not as bad as they seemed. There were stories of heroes across the world and in the US, stories of advances in science and health, and of course, changes in the world of publishing, too.

Heroes

In Egypt Thousands of Muslims for a Human Shield for Coptics.

In UTAH strangers ignored the danger to themselves and saved a man trapped beneath a burning car.

Wildlife rangers protect animals in the Congo at great risk to themselves.

CNN’s search for heroes found some amazing people. And the hero of the year is helping women and newborns in Indonesia.

This video is long at 19 minutes, but it is an amazing story of how Alberto Cairo found humanity and dignity in the midst of war in Afghanistan. He calls his talk There Are No Scraps of Men.

It started with One Person in Michigan and spread around the country. Secret Santas pay off layaways. Thanks to Janelle Madigan for this story.

Science

There are amazing advances in science from better hip replacement devices, to plasma brushes that promise painless dental work, to solar energy systems in North Africa that will provide clean power for the region and Europe here.

Health

How about this amazing piece? New Leukemia Treatment Exceeds Expectations.

Book News

Now, who says fantasy authors don’t get no respect? Author of the Year.

Just think what this means for ebook sales!

As The Year Closes

I count 2011 as a huge success. You will find my list of accomplishments here. I’ll share my goals for 2012 in another post. I hope to exceed those goals.

I don’t pretend to know what 2012 will bring, not on a personal level, a professional level, a national level, or a worldwide level. There will be bad things that happen in 2012. That’s the way of the world. But I know there will be good things that happen, too. That’s the way of humanity. We’re a mixed bag of good, mediocre, and bad. You have to be wary of the bad, but don’t be so on guard that you miss the good.

So on this eve of the New Year’s Eve, my wish for friends, family, and yes, even foe is that you make the effort to see the good despite whatever happens because attitude and expectations can lead from good to great.

What about you? Do you look for the good? What was your 2011, the good news? Won’t you share those stories with us?

Reviewing 2011: Measuring Success

As I read year-end reviews in the various online magazines and news sites that I follow, I realized that I have never done a year-end review of my own goals for the previous year. How can that be? I am an over-analyzer of epic proportions. I analyze things for my day job, for every major purchase, for gift purchases, for — well, everything. So how is it that I never look back at what I’ve accomplished for the year? I think I have been afraid to look back. Afraid that I’d be disappointed. Afraid that instead of measuring success I’d see failure.

LIMITS

Due to a number of personal crises in the past ten years, my writing had taken a back seat to dealing with other things. 2011 continued with numerous challenges. There were serious health issues in my immediate and extended family, overwhelming issues at my day job that sucked the energy right out of me, and emotionally wrenching events–the news that one of my dogs has a life-limiting health condition, and the hardest news of all, one of my family members is getting divorced. There were positive things I tried to do, but somehow things didn’t work out. It has been difficult to see the trees for the forest (Yeah, I know that’s backward – that has been my life).

And, for an optimist at heart, I tend to be rather harsh on myself. For example, as I was contemplating writing this post, I thought ‘how can I write a year-end review when I didn’t accomplish very much?’ Translate that to I didn’t finish my novel-in-progress nor did I finish my revision-in-progress. Thus I failed as a writer.

So all-in-all 2011 seems to have been a total bust.

Mrs. Darkside of the Force

Wait a minute. I think Mrs. Darkside has gotten her grips into me.

For those of you who have not been formally introduced, Mrs. Darkside is my alter ego. Her full name, Mrs. Darkside of the Force, says it all. She is the doubter, destroyer, and naysayer who used to haunt me a lot. Mrs. Darkside is a master at negative self-talk. Negative self-talk (I didn’t get anything done, I’m not very good, etc.) starts a self-fulfilling downward spiral of energy and self-esteem.

So how do you beat Mrs. Darkside? Learn to identify your cycles of negative self-talk is the first step. Naming Mrs. Darkside takes away her power and it refocuses you on the good, the hope, and the yes-I-can attitude. But even more important is learning to master positive self-talk. Honor yourself for your spirit, for the struggle to survive, for the desire to make good choices. Celebrate the good choices you did make. Take in the positives. Even when life events overwhelm you, celebrate the small steps such as “I got out of bed today,” “I got dressed,” or “I ate a healthy meal.” Count your successes, no matter how small. You’ll be amazed at how positive self-talk empowers you.

So, now that Mrs. Darkside is put firmly in her place, what have I accomplished in the past year?

What I Accomplished

My writing was given a higher priority in my life. (Previously, writing came after family crises, working the paying job, all household chores, etc., resulting in very low word counts for too many years.)

I took a total wreck of a novel I wrote more than 20 years ago and have crafted more than 32,000 words in revision, transforming the wreck into a thing of pride. For that, I have to thank Holly Lisle and her amazing How to Rewrite Your Novel course. Not all of her methods work for me, but studying her course gave me a bunch of new tools that do work.

HTML and CSS code and I became acquaintances and I crafted a website for myself.

With help from Kristen Lamb’s Blogging 101 course, I learned how to use Twitter and a blog to create my own writer’s platform. I also met a bunch of amazing friends as a result of that course and whose support and encouragement is something I count as a big positive for the year.

I wrote and published nearly 20,000 words in blog posts and online articles.

In addition, I wrote 11,000 plus words in my writer’s journal.

I created a new website and shopping cart for a new phase of my husband’s online business.

In the family activities category, I babysat grandkids, celebrated birthdays, celebrated another wedding anniversary with the man I love, had an overall successful year at work, and managed to keep my tiny rose garden alive for another year.

So, you might ask me, did you make any money writing in 2011? Not one red cent. Yet, my writing skills have improved significantly. My increased commitment to my writing is measurable in a markedly increased word count for the past year. I made a public statement that I am a writer with a website and a blog. My faith in my writing ability is stronger than ever and has been reinforced by the many wonderful comments I’ve received on my blog and through my website.

Looking Back & Forward

Looking back, I’d say that while 2011 held many challenges, it has been a success for me on a personal level and happily, a very successful year for me, the writer. I am looking forward to developing friendships, to writing more, and to the successes in store for me in 2012.

How about you? Does your version of Mrs. Darkside grab you when you look back at your progress? Are you measuring your success for 2011?

ETA: I don’t make progress posts every year, but you might want to see how my measuring success progressed over the years. Read “Lessons from 2017.

Your Christmas Gift

No matter your religion, no matter your belief system, we all can get caught up in the should-dos, the must-dos, the hurry-burry of the Christmas season, the noise, the lights, your Christmas gift shopping, and all the other activities. It can get overwhelming.

When you are stressed out, overstimulated, and done in by your list of things to do, the best gift you can give yourself and the people around you is a little nurturing.

Do you take a few moments now and again to nurture yourself? What gives you that sense of renewal? Music? Nature? A walk in the dark? Candles flickering? A long soak in a hot bath? For me, any of the above will work, but sometimes it is a matter of taking the time to find my center. Just a few minutes can be all it takes. Do you have a few minutes now?

My gift to you, should you choose to accept it, is a few minutes of quiet reflection.


An original arrangement of O Holy Night performed by Tony Grimsley

Silhouette of Madonna and Child

wishing you joy and peace, and a very merry Christmas