...to TOTALLY freak out!
OMG! I didn't hit this year's goals. OMG! How about next year's goals? Ahhhhhhhhh!
Am I right or am I right? Okay, couple of tips on how I do it.
Let's start with Last Year. I highly (I mean highly) recommend printing out the following and placing it on your refrigerator.
Violet is Level Six
Seriously! It's actually a misquote from my second (and best off forgotten--I've gotten sooo much better since then) novel. My wife mis-remembered it, and those four words have become our guiding beacon.
Anyway, the point about "Violet is Level Six" is that it is utterly meaningless. Like the past, there isn't squat you can do to change it. So all the OMG and I woulda-shoulda--coulda stuff is utterly meaningless.
Now I'll give you the full quote on our fridge.
Violet is Level Six...start where you stand!
You're standing in the present, so start there. (Though if you figure out how to travel backward in time to fix some of the... Never mind!) You can't change the past. Worst year of your life, thank goodness it's over. Best year of your life and your scared it will never happen again (it won't if you dwell on that). The only thing you can really do is start where you stand, so focus on that.
Sure, I peek back, but mostly for one reason: How accurate was my prior year goal setting? Did I tag them all by March? Have I barely scraped the edges? You want a good solid stretch that doesn't tip you into panic.
Now forget the past.
Okay, now I'm looking forward at that looming blank canvas called 2018. YOIKS! I could do anything.
So here's the best advice I've ever been given.
Focus on 3 things...max!In the past, I've set out massive quests, shining business plans, six-flanked teams of ideas armored in shining light that could...
Three things. I find that if I choose the right ones, and hold my focus on them throughout the year, and don't go all "Oh, look! Shiny!", that I'll actually get most of it done each year.
Set those goals. Be a little unrealistic, because that's what goals are for.
And that's my third piece to this triumvirate. What's the real dream? Is it to complete a novel? Is it to complete a dozen? Two dozen? How much is enough? How much more can I pile on?
Nope, my dreams aren't shaped like that. My dreams are about having fun, being happy, and loving the work that I do and the stories that I tell. I've discovered that the more my goals are focused on that side of my dream, the more often they come true.
And that's the best tip I've got. Focus on the fun and the rest will fall into line along the way.
Happy Holidays and Merry Next Year!
- M. L. “Matt” Buchman: 50+ novels, 3x Booklist "Top 10 Romance of the Year", NPR and B&N "Top 5 Romance of the Year", RITA finalist.
- Matt: 30 years as a project manager specializing in crisis projects. Has taught hundreds of classes on dozens of topics including: Lean Manufacturing, IT, Writing, Business Management, and many others.
- M. L. writes: military romantic suspense, contemporary romance, F&SF, thrillers, even more short stories than novels.
- Matt. has: bicycled solo around the world, designed and built houses, worked too many years as a corporate project manager, rebuilt and solo-sailed a fifty-foot sailboat, flown and jumped out of airplanes.
- M. L. also: quilts!?!
- Find out more at www.mlbuchman.com.