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.
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.“
To be honest, I decided to avoid doing an end-of-year review, Lynette. But you’re right, “Count your successes, no matter how small.” And yours really are huge, Lynette! Congrats. I’m off to do the same.
Thanks,for the comment AND the complement, Debra. I know you had huge successes last year, too. Congrats on your Amazon rating!
Well done, Lynette. I took a number of years away from writing. Just stopped. took a few writing classes but no new stuff. No editing. nothing. they were successful years because they refilled the well. It’s hard to do that when the year has been difficult, but obviously you’ve accomplished lots. and you’re a better writer to boot. That’s very important. By the way, I love Holly Lisle. She’s a wonderful teacher and a giving human being. Not all her stuff works for me either, but what works, works very well.
thank you for sharing. I appreciate the risk you took, the soul searching you managed and the lessons you learned.
Thank you, Louise. You are so right about needing to refill the well once in a while and that is productive, too.
And I absolutely agree with you about Holly Lisle. I have always felt I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth in any class I’ve taken of hers.
I love your year end review, Lynette. I want to start measuring my success. For the first time ever, I’m working on writing goals for 2012 so I will have something to look back review at the end of next year. May 2012 prove to be successful for us all.
I have made goals numerous times before but I’ve not remembered to record the result! Made it hard to count my successes! Fortunately new software has enabled me to keep better records in spite of myself. 🙂
Good luck with your goal setting and measuring!
Thanks for the uplifting post, Lynette! I have a mega-watt Mrs. Darkside, but after reading this I’m going to tell her to take a walk and acknowledge what has been done.
Happy New Year!
Yay, Alicia! My own Mrs. Darkside grew to gargantuan size during the time I was unable to write. Keep those positive thoughts going, you’ll get her down to size. And if you feel like you’re wavering a bit, just drop me a line. I’ll remind you of the positive stuff.
This is a good list, Lynette. Good for you! Years ago, I started keeping a “Success List” throughout the year so that when I look back, I can see how well I did and keep Mrs. Darkside at bay. I journal every day. My success list is in the front of the journal. I read it whenever I’m thinking I’m not making as much progress as I’d like.
A “Success List.” What a great idea, Diane! Thanks so much for the suggestion. I’m adding that one to my journal.
Measuring success is critical, and something we seem to seldom do. We focus more often on our failures, so I applaud you for taking the time to congratulate yourself on what did get done. It’s a much better place from which to move forward.
Happy New Year!
Thanks, Julie! Happy New Year to you, too!
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