Making Changes and Setting Goals

Yesterday was the day I should have made my formal declaration of resolution. No, I am not so jaded with life I have given up on the idea that I can make changes for the better in my life. Declaring them in public and printing them out is the reminder to me.

I’ve heard it said if you do something consistently for twenty-one days, it becomes a habit. How odd bad habits only seem to take twice to form.

In training horses, a person thinks having a smart horse is an asset and most times they are. The flip side to that is many very intelligent horses pick up things quickly, including bad habits. It’s up to the trainer to make sure a horse learns to do something correctly from the beginning or they will spend a whole lot more time resolving the problem. Smart horses also seem to figure out ways to get away with things much quicker.

So, perhaps, it is with humans. We need to do things correctly and repeat that correct thing until it becomes a habit we want.

These are changes we can make without grandiose goals set with unrealistic time frames.

With that in mind, I thought about the things I really want to change in my life. There are some things I have no control over. I may not like cold weather, but not liking it isn’t going to change it. I can either turn up the heat, put on more clothes or move to a warmer climate.

As a writer, I should be vowing to write every day. There simply are some days that isn’t going to happen. I might as well accept that and stop beating myself up when I don’t.

There are also times I need to just set a work aside.

When training an animal, a smart trainer always ends on a high note. You have to keep working with the animal through a difficult situation, but when you recognize you’re there, look for a small victory and quit. Don’t keep pushing.

Animals, humans included, have saturation levels. As a dog trainer told me when I was taking his classes, the brain is like a sponge. When it’s soaked up all it’s going to, stop trying to force more into it. Go back and repeat things the dog does well so they have a sense of accomplishment and let the brain rest for a bit.

If your WIP is frustrating you to the point you want to hit delete, stop. Your sponge is full. Go do something else. Write a poem. Work on a different WIP. Write a short story. Read something that makes you feel good and let the problem story simmer on the back burner for a while. It’s amazing what the subconscious can do when you leave it alone.

Give yourself your treat for doing something positive and move on until your mind is ready to tackle the problem child again.

That doesn’t give you permission to stop writing. You’re a writer. You’ll have to deal with deadlines. It just means you can do something to clear your mind before you return to the battle.

And maybe that’s the secret to success. Set realistic goals. Reward yourself when you achieve them. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall behind. There are plenty of people in the world who will do that for you.

I finished FAR RIDER in 2010. That was my big goal. My writing also improved remarkably this last year. Even I am astounded. I’m not saying I’m “there,” but things are starting to click with me easier.

So, for 2011, let’s see what else I can finish.

  1. Continue the me routine. Simply put, just take better care of myself. Hopefully, push these workman’s comp doctors to actually get something done so I can go back to work. Given the severity and increasing frequency of the migraines and the increasing back pain, that would be good.
  2. Lose weight, but more importantly, get in better shape.
  3. Finish the outline for the rest of the FAR RIDER story.
  5. Find an antique dresser. Keeping clothes in plastic clothes baskets is getting old and I’m too much of a snob to buy a piece of junk furniture at WalMart.
  6. Find a Morse sewing machine. The migraines won’t permit piecing quilt tops, but I can buy them off Ebay and finish them.
  7. Move back to Texas with Will.
  8. Start GIBSON’S GIRL.
  9. Find my agent. I wish I could add get FAR RIDER published, but that is like the cold weather, there is only so much I can do.
  10. Continue the house routine.
  11. Continue working with Soldiers’ Angels and Tell Them Thanks.
  12. Start Stillwater Steam business. This is my idea for a steampunk accessory business. Will and I discussed this and he wants to help with it.
  13. Go back to work. I want to think that is with my old company, but I don’t know. I’ve put this in God’s hands.
  14. Go to the writer’s retreat. I would like to go to Surrey also, but I think it will be an either or situation this year if anything.
  15. Stay active in Sixx.


  1. Great post, Julie. The part about getting some space from the MS if frustrated, bang on.

    I hope you realize each of your goals in 2011. Cheers!


  2. Smart horses also seem to figure out ways to get away with things much quicker.

    Yeah, tell me about it. [wry g]

    I loved the image of the sponge being full. That is so very apt. I’ve discovered that when I get stuck, the absolutely best thing to do is to get up and find something mindless task to complete. It frees up my brain like nothing else.

    This will be a good year for you, my friend. Have faith.

  3. Beth,

    Yes, smart animals are a blessing only so long as the owner is just a bit smarter. I think that’s why there are so many contrary ponies. Children let them get by with things. Adults don’t really know how to handle the ponies and so the ponies wind up spoiled.

    The full sponge was one of the best things I learned in that obedience class. I could tell when the dogs were just “full” and trying to go any further was an exercise in frustration. Our minds get full, too.

    I do think this is going to be a good year. I have to believe that.

  4. You’ve got a great list. Can you believe I did not put anything down on paper this year. Mentally, I wanted to finish my big purge and I am just one Armoire away from being finished. Other than that I guess I just never got my list made this January.. but, do have a small list tucked away in my brain!

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