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.


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.


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?

What False Comfort Zone Are You In?

“Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone” is a post by Tiva Jones. Tiva owns Creativity Loft, a public relations company that specializes in pr, branding, and marketing for authors, magazines & publishers. (Tiva has closed Creativity Loft and now runs Before you start saying ‘old news, I don’t care,’ you might want to think about how a false comfort zone may be holding you back.

Image is of a dog in the covers, all you can see is one eye and an ear, he's in his comfort zone, what false comfort zone are you in?

The biggest safe zone of all . . .

There are all kinds of comfort zones: a neighborhood, a job, a preferred route to drive or walk, a certain group of friends, there is plenty of time to (fill-in-the-blank). Perhaps the biggest comfort zone of all is “Someday.” Lots of people use “someday” as a safe zone. Someday I’ll write a book. Someday I’ll move to Italy. Someday I’ll forgive xxx for what he/she did.

Even us ‘creative’ types have comfort zones: I’ll query an agent someday, I’ll submit my story someday when I learn how to do this one thing . . . .   Yet, someday never seems to come.

Facing Barriers of Your False Comfort Zone

A couple of years ago, I participated in a couple of online writing course: How to Revise Your Novel (HTRYN) and How to Think Sideways (HTTS) by Holly Lisle.* In the HTTS course, Holly refers to something she calls Thinking Barriers: Safe, Perfect, Victim, and Feel. I won’t go into detail about these, but learning how to break these thinking barriers is instrumental to Holly’s course. I thought I learned those lessons, perfectly. NOT.

We use barriers, like Holly’s thinking barriers, to protect us from things we fear. Facing the fear is absolutely essential to finding a way past those barriers. Some fears are important to respect in order to maintain physical and emotional safety. Some fears are really big and they cannot be faced head-on in one step. Look at the fear, the barrier, you’ve constructed. If that fear keeps you from moving forward, from achieving what you want to do, you need to face that fear. There are small steps you can take. Maybe the first step is to read a how-to book. It could be for you to respond to one post. Or perhaps it’s to go to a party and say hi to one new person. If you really want to move forward, I’m certain you will find a way to take that first small step. (If you want to read more about how to move from fear to your dream, read Make Room for Fear and Your Dreams.)

Build on small steps

Between the Holly Lisle Novel Writing School courses and Tiva’s post, I realized I am in the false comfort zone, Perfect. Perfect doesn’t exist. Perfect never finishes. If I wait and I work hard to be PERFECT, I won’t meet you, I will never have a blog, I won’t finish this web site, I won’t finish my book, etc., etc. So — I’m stepping out of my comfort zone.

I read up on how to put together a website. How to publish a blog. And now it’s time. The small steps have led me here. I am putting up this website and blog. I’m posting this, relatively unpolished post (Give me a break! A girl can’t change in the course of 700 words). Soon, I will have novellas and novels for sale on this website. Small steps that will take me to my goal: published stories that are read by people like you.

You know what? Tiva is right. There is power in facing your fears. And there is power in taking small steps. Live outside of your comfort zone.




Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Holly Lisle’s HTTS and HTRYN courses. If you use the buttons on my website, I will get a small cash payment. You do not have to use those buttons. The link in my blogroll to the right will take you directly to the courses listing on her website. Regardless of how you get there, go to Holly’s site. She has many helpful articles and blog posts.

Will you face disappointments in twenty years? Is there a false comfort zone that keeps you from achieving your dreams? What small steps can you take to move out of your false comfort zone, toward your dreams?