Wednesday, December 16, 2020

New Year, New Goals, New You


The New Year is upon us. I know. We're breathing a collectively sigh of relief, yet holding our breath at the same time. We don't want 2021 to be like 2020. So, let's not let it. Let's make it a great year. Let's take out this old year in the days that are left, make plans, and set goals, to make 2021 our best year ever.

For too many years to count, I have set goals-lifetime, ten year, five year, and yearly. So far, I have been lucky. Every goal I've set, I've attained, except one. More on that later. I've looked at what I've "really" wanted and gone for it.

When I was 23, I started my writing career. First, I just wanted to get published. I didn't care where. I had heard the odds were against me, so any publication was fine. Fearlessly, I sent out articles. Then, one day, I almost choked on my Sonic hamburger when the wind caught the pages of a magazine and blew it open to a page where my article was published. It was a magazine called Byline. The year was 1983.

Next, I set my sights on Writer's Digest. Within months, that was done and I not only cracked that market, I was writing for all their imprints regularly. That led to other national publications and a steady stream of newspaper articles. 

After doing articles and interviews for a number of years, I aimed for books. I knew to get a book published, I'd have to write one. The first goal in that series was to write a page or a scene a day while keeping up with my articles. I did it and the next year, I published my first book.

Through the years, I wanted a degree. After I turned fifty, I started college. Received my degree four years later and a certification in Health Information Management. 

Eighteen books, hundreds of articles, a degree and certification later, I've learned a little about setting goals and how to reach them. I'd like to offer a few of my suggestions below.

First, write your goals down. I tend to write mine at the beginning of the year. You don't have to choose that time, but I find a new year feels like a fresh start. There are two reasons to write them down. One, you have something tangible to guide you as you go forward and two, when you write them down, you become committed to those goals.

Next, I like to follow the SMART method of goal setting. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. I use this for my yearly goals as I work my way to my five, ten and lifetime goals. Let's look at each one of these areas a little more closely.

Specific - Instead of writing down, I want to write an article, write I want to write a how-to article about how to get a better job. 

Measurable - It's one thing to say I want to write and another to say I want to write an article a month. Without something you can measure, how do you know you'll ever reach the goal? And reaching a goal is a mighty satisfying feeling. 

Attainable - Look at what you want and see if it is reachable this next year. I am a firm believer that anyone can achieve anything they want if they want it badly enough. However, if you want to run the Boston Marathon, but walking across your living room floor leaves you out of breath, it's probably not going to happen in the next 6 months. But, you can set a goal of running x number of miles by the end of the year. 

Which brings us to:

Relevant - Is the goal you are setting now going to help you reach your five year or ten year goal? If you have big goals, breaking them down in to smaller, yearly goals, can help you reach them faster. If you want to run a marathon, starting out with one mile one month, three the next, five the next, will get you where you want to be at the end of the year. Just make sure your smaller goals can get you to the next level.

Time-Bound - Set a time limit as to when you plan on reaching your goal. For instance, for a yearly goal you can write, "By the end of this year, I will have twelve articles written and half of them published." Then break that down monthly. January, write one article or chapter of that book you've been wanting to write. February, do another one. March, another.

By breaking down your goals into smaller segments and completing them, you can reach your ultimate goal. You just have to keep trying and moving forward, even when you feel like you're moving backwards. (We'll talk about that in a later blog.)

So, what is the only goal I've not reached yet? The Bestsellers' List. I will continue striving to get there. I think of all the people who have made it before me, the struggles they've faced and yet, they did it. I will be one of those stories too.

If you'd like to share your goals, have questions about goal setting or writing, or simply want to keep up with my journey, email me at or visit my website at and I'll add you to my email list. 

Until Next Time, Keep Chasing Your Dreams~


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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Change is Inevitable for Everyone on the Planet

This past year has been one of many changes. When the year started out, I thought I was headed in one direction. Then life, as well as COVID-19, happened and my life went into a willow sort of flexibility and fluidity like water flowing down a stream. I have had to be flexible and fluid not only my writing career, but my health care career as well. 

For four years, I set my sites on becoming a HIM professional. My goal was to become a coder or maybe even a supervisor/director of a HIM department where I worked. I went to school, received my degree and my RHIT certification. Graduating from the top of my class, I had no idea it wouldn't make a lick of difference in the place where I worked. They had an agenda and that didn't include me. I could have done the job and would have made a good supervisory professional. It wasn't to be. After multiple lies, I transferred to another position in the hospital, where I have been for over ten months. It's not the role I wanted, but my coworkers respect me and that's enough.

On the writing front, I got another book published. It has been quite the job to get the book before readers. I was in the midst of writing it when the COVID lockdowns began. We still managed to get the book released in September, but it has been an uphill battle to promote the book. My publisher has been great. The week I had book signings, I was evacuated from my home because of a huge wildfire and the book signing that was to be held in Fort Collins had to be done virtually because the bookstore shut down because of COVID. I stayed at my daughter's house and did the virtual event on her computer. 

I have told people I'm not a fan of change. It makes me uncomfortable, but over the past year, I have learned to take things in stride, bend, flow, and change when I've needed to. I feel more change is coming. I am up to it. I feel I have grown in the process of change. As human beings, I feel that is one of our attributes, our ability to adapt no matter what life throws at us. 

I don't know what the next year will bring, much less the next few months or even days. From my writing career to my health care one, I will do what I have to do, when I have to do it, change, flow, adapt as needed.  

To be human is to be constantly in flux, in the process of change. When we grow, we change. We aren't the same people today as we were yesterday. As long as we are alive, there will be change. It's part of life and I wouldn't have it any other way. We have to be like willows, bendable, and like water, fluid.

Until next time, stay bendable, keep flowing, and creatively doing whatever keeps you alive!!

Best~ Deborah