Failure to plan is planning to fail — a PLAN for success

No one wants to fail on purpose, but failure to plan can lead to failure. Today we’ll look at the process of goal setting for SUCCESS that I use.

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My plan comes from Bob Mayer’s WHO DARES WIN, The Green Beret Way to Conquer Fear and Succeed, which is available here.

There are three components:

• Focus
• Strategic goals
• Tactical goals

Experience has taught me when you know where you’ve been and where you’re going, you go farther than when you just drift along.

Creation of a concrete list, imo, is critical.

But no goal setting process is complete without a review of the previous year’s STRATEGIC GOALS. Every time I do this, I never fail to discover I have accomplished far more than I thought. I’m betting you would see the same results.

Not only do I set measurable goals for myself, I also reward myself for my accomplishments!

After my review, I determine a FOCUS for the New Year.

A target.

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In 2012, my focus was epubbing. btw, I accomplished my goal  as you can see on the left  side bar: The Pendant’s Promise, my debut novel, is available to purchase.

 FOCUS is whatever will move you toward achieving your object for the year. Your yearly FOCUS can be studying a particular craft area, networking, or reading x number of books and analyzing the author’s technique.

After FOCUS come STRATEGIC TARGETS.

I give serious thought to these questions in setting my targets for a New Year.

1. What do I want to write this year?
2. What do I want to sell this year?
3. What will I do toward getting my name out there?
4. What writing craft do I need to focus on?
5. What’s on my reading list?

Once I have answered these questions, I set the targets broken into three month, six month, and one year objectives that culminate in two year and three year goals.

These are SMART goals:
S -Specific (and Strategic)
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant (results oriented)
T – Time-framed

For example, a specific, strategic goal might be stated like this:
At the end of the first quarter 2013, I will have two short stories submitted to such and such periodical.

Then I establish a list of METHODS to accomplish my strategic goals. My last year’s list looked like this:

1. Write 100 NEW words per day
2. Spend minimum of 20 hours per week writing
3. Attend two writer conferences

No wishy-washy, weasel-worded methods like I’ll write every day. Too easy to let life interfere and be lax with methods like that.

My methods are:

Specific.   Measurable.   Attainable.

Same with my TACTICAL WEEKLY GOALS which might include:

1. Write three query letters
2. Complete critique partner’s edits
3. Outline two scenes for WIP

Either I accomplish what I’ve set out to do or I don’t. I know where I’m going and whether I’m there at the end of the week.

And, yes I do write out these goals every week and record my progress.

To quote, Pablo Picasso: “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.

I also happen to be blessed with an accountability group to provide additional focus and encouragement toward accomplishing what I’ve set out to do. We share weekly then alternately cheer or bring out the cyber whip based on our goal reports.

I hear you groaning. You’re saying all this takes too much time.

I don’t deny this process takes time, but having a SMART goal plan provides not only focus, but also helps solidify intangibles into something tangible.

I can’t guarantee SUCCESS with my plan. I do promise goal-setting will direct you on the right path because to hit a target you must aim.

Goals set your aim.

I  encourage you to think about a writing plan for the New Year.

YOUR TURN: Have I convinced you? Will you set SMART goals for this year?

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Life and Mystery @ the Miller Farm

There is a mystery on Miller Farm. 

When I went to let the chickens out, there were two dead quail. One was in the cage – which is not completely unusual. However, there was one on the ground near the chicken feeder, which was the mystery.

How did it get out of the quail cage? Why did it die? 

I’m pretty sure both quail were dead before I opened the cage so it was not the shock of seeing  me in my daughter’s sock monkey footed pajamas (it was pajama day at the school where I teach) .

I guess what happens in the quail cage stays in the quail cage, and the mystery will remain a mysery.

There is justice on the Miller farm. 

Three of the roosters have gotten big enough to go to freezer camp so they were put on death row (in a separate cage). The hens who were tormented by these roosters perched atop the cage with what would be the equivalent of a smug look on their faces. I consider that poetic justice.

There is also new life on Miller farm. 

We have baby chicks and quail in the garage. They were due to hatch on December 21st, but one quail made his appearance on December 19. We call him the very loud overachiever. The others appeared on schedule. 

Now there is much noise in the garage, which drives the dachshunds crazy. 

There is randomness on Miller Farm.

 My daughter received a text last week asking if should would be able to hatch goose eggs. Being an adventurous Miller she said “sure.” So we are awaiting the arrival of a special thermometer and will then set the goose eggs.

I must confess I am a little nervous. The size of eggs being hatched at the Miller Farm is becoming increasingly larger.

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Eggs left to right: quail, bantam, chicken, goose

I’m not sure I want to know what will be next – ostrich eggs?

The Miller Farm is always bustling with life. I’m not at all surprised Rachel agreed to hatch goose eggs. She loves all animals. She’s going to be a caring nurse one day. I can’t wait read the email when the geese start cracking their shells. Should be an interesting email. I’m betting the geese give the daschshunds a run for their money!

After reading CW Sara’s email and looking at the picture of the eggs she included, I thought about how a story idea begins a little kernel—an overheard conversation, a picture, a senior citizen or child’s face, a building—so many little things can trigger What if for the creative mind.

That tiny what if then progresses through research, writing, editing, and finally becomes a full-blown, hold-in-your-hand book.That’s a life cycle too.

The life cycle of a novel. And writers never know what size the next kernel will be.

YOUR TURN: How are things in your world? Any mystery or poetic justice? Any surprises? Any idea kernels to share?

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To Resolve or Not to Resolve That is the Question

Last week social media was all a buzz about New Year’s resolutions. Facebook status comments offered summaries of people’s 2012 and their goals for 2013. Blogs gave statistics from last year and offered predictions for the New Year.

How about you? Are you making resolutions?

New Year's Resolutions, list of items

I don’t do well with general resolutions like those pictured.

BUT I am a goal setter. Goals help solidify intangibles into something tangible.

Consider this quote from Mario Andretti, “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”

As a former teacher, goals (aka objectives) were an integral part of my world. I watched lesson plan objectives produce learning success for students. So transferring goal setting to my writing career was a logical, easy progression.

For me, goal setting provides the target, and I can analyze why I missed the bull’s eye and adjust as I move toward success.

Knowledge is power. When I know what works, I can do more of it. When I know what doesn’t work, I can do less of it.

Goals work for me.

If you’re not one to set goals or make New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll love Juliet Marillier’s New Year’s blog post where she shared nine gifts for a writer’s focus in 2013.

  1. The wind in your hair, the rain on your skin, the sun on your back, the richness of freshly turned soil underfoot. (If you live in a city apartment, plant up some pots with flowers or vegies. Go for      regular walks in the park, and use your five senses to experience nature. If you have a garden, make compost. Get your hands dirty!)
  2. The joy of providing a forever home for a shelter animal. (Not all of you will be able to do this, but it’s a great way to nourish the soul. If you can’t take on a homeless animal, you could volunteer to walk shelter dogs, or help out at a refuge.)
  3. Social interaction, and I don’t mean online! (Writers can easily get into the pattern of spending long hours alone, maintaining their social contacts mostly online. This is not great for your physical or mental health. Make an effort – go out to coffee with a friend once a week, join a book club, walk your dog at the park, meet like-minded people in the flesh.)
  4. Writing because you love it; loving what you write. (Because otherwise what’s the point?)
  5. Stretching yourself creatively. (Try a new genre; set yourself      challenges in voice, point of view, vocabulary, structure)
  6. Making a virtue of ‘down time.’ (Try meditation, walking, Tai      Chi, swimming, playing with your children or animals)
  7. Learning that the best motivation for getting on with things – your work in progress, your diet/exercise plan – does not come from the note on the fridge, but from deep within you. Changing your mindset; doing the right things not because you ought to, but because you want to.
  8. Being generous with your time, even if you don’t have much of it to spare. (Read to an elderly person; help out at your kids’ school; fill hampers for the needy.)
  9. Breathing. (Step away from your screen regularly. Go outside, look at something beautiful and breathe slowly for a few minutes. You live in the real world; it is the source of your inspiration. Honour and respect it with all its flaws.)

I love her ideas for enriching our creativity. Wonderful words of wisdom. You can read the whole blog here.

But I still believe in goal setting.

As a writer, I see this New Year as a blank book. Remember my New Year’s Eve post? If not, read it here.

We can fill the pages of 2013 any way we want. A goal plan isn’t required, but it might help us succeed.

Next Monday, I’ll share my goal setting process.

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Flying the Coop Bee Emergency – Miller Farm Day

On a recent Monday (my day to go grocery shopping and do laundry among other things), I added poinsettia delivery to my errand list.

Several people at various schools bought the holiday plant from our kids for a band fundraiser and they came in on Friday. Our living room was quite festive with sixteen poinsettia plants in it.
poinsettia-group

I took six to an elementary school before grocery shopping.

I can now add floral delivery person to the list of jobs I do not want to do full time.

When I returned home on that afternoon, I noticed bees gathered on the edge of a pot on the back porch. It was strange so I took a picture with my phone and sent it to Beekeeper Brian asking what he thought. He had no idea.

I loaded up more poinsettias and headed to the middle school. On my route, I passed Beekeeper Brian, headed for the house. My first thought was “he’s going to check on his bees.”

But when I got home after my poinsettia deliveries, he was in full beekeeper garb, standing at the stove with a glass measuring bowl full of a lemony smelling liquid. He then said the words which always signal the beginning of an adventure – “I need your help.”

He needed to know how hot the liquid was. I went into bread making mode and thought about how hot water for softening yeast needed to be. After a quick finger test, I assured him the water was not more than 100 degrees.

He then carried the liquid outside. As it turns out, the bees were making a small swarm which means they were preparing to “fly the coop.”

Oops, that would be the chickens who do that. I’m not sure what it’s called when bees leave.

Beekeeper Brian then put the queen from the swarm in a nuc (small hive box) and put feed (the lemony smelling liquid) on top. He’s watching to see if the worker bees go into the nuke with the queen.

bee bucket

Meanwhile, he’s thinking of alternate plans to entice the bees to hang around. This could mean another hive and more honey!

There is never a dull moment around here.

Life on the farm is certainly full of adventure with all the elements of storytelling: Goal, Motivation , and Conflict.

YOUR TURN: Any dull moments in your world?

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Welcome the NEW

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May the New year bring you Success and Happiness

I’ve enjoyed our visits on the porch in 2012. I hope to see you more this year.

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What’s your driving MOTIVATION for next year?

The last minutes of 2012 are ticking away. I’m eager for the New Year. Are you?

Author Joan Reeves quoted English poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce in a recent blog: “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity, and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

Joan went on to say: If the New Year is an unwritten book and you are the author, then write hard.

Using Pierce’s analogy, New Year’s Eve would represent THE END and tomorrow begins the PROLOGUE or CHAPTER 1.

As we say farewell to the 365 days called 2012 and begin to write our book titled 2013, I plan to focus on

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Hope fuels the engine of creativity.

A successful writer must be creative and that’s not possible without hope.

Embracing HOPE, we move closer to fulfilling our dream as I fulfilled my dream of holding my debut novel, The Pendant’s Promise, in my hands last year.

As writers, we can never give up. Why?

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Our characters demand it. So do our future readers.

Enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations today and make the decision to embrace the New Year 2013 with HOPE.

You deserve SUCCESS.

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Ever had one of THESE days? Miller Farm Friday

Chicken Wrangler Sara’s day:

This morning I got up at 5:15, made coffee, fixed breakfast and made sandwiches even though it is Saturday. The kids have All-Region Band auditions and I wanted to make sure they didn’t starve.

After they left, I went back to bed. It was glorious. I didn’t open my eyes again until 7:45. I should have kept them closed, but chicken wrangler duties called.

I got up and let the chickens out. That was ok.

I also let the quail out. That was not ok.

Lately, I have had difficulty closing the long quail cage securely, and we have had to retrieve quail on several occasions. Rachel even made me a sign that says, “Close the door.” Today, I closed the door on the long cage. However, I accidentally left the hutch cage open.

Strike one.

I knew something was amiss as I heard Bella barking frantically. She really wanted the quail to come over and play. I ran back outside and closed the hutch door on the two remaining quail. I decided to finish filling water jugs and deal with the loose quail later.

I washed the very dirty waterer from the quail cage in the coop, refilled the waterer, and reached to put it back. (In case you don’t remember, this cage is high up in the coop and somewhat difficult to reach.) The waterer slipped and the lid came open, spilling water all over me.

I was not happy. This was strike two.

On the bright side, even though it is December, this is Texas so it is 80 degrees outside. There was no danger of the water making me cold.

After refilling the waterer, I headed back to the house, silently praying that fixing coffee and breakfast for Beekeeper Brian and I would be easier.

One more strike and I’m out.

About the same time Chicken Wrangler Sara’s email arrived, I received an email from daughter #2 in Colorado. Her day started with a challenge too.

Woke up to about ten wild turkeys out in the front yard and street. I went out to talk to them and saw a deer.

SF turkeys

single deer

He had short antlers. I turned my back on him to take a picture of the front of the house and then turned back around he was coming after me!

I walked, rather briskly, back to the driveway and out of the corner of my eye, I see more deer staring at me.

deer next door for 12-28 blog

I was triangulated by turkey and deer!!

I started walking more briskly to the safety of the fenced front yard. Whereupon I saw deer tracks inside the fence, which led me to believe that the only truly safe place was inside the house until Patrick woke up to protect me!!

Nature. It’s not for sissies.

YOUR TURN: Wanta share how your day’s going?

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