Goals Refresher Part 3 – Creativity

“Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” my favorite millennial recently said on her podcast.

It’s going on 7 months since COVID-19 upended our world. I took advantage of the forced time with myself to work on a few goals I’ve claimed to want to achieve for years. How am I doing? Let’s find out!

GOAL: BECOME A WRITER.

COVID-TIMES: Thanks to F&A’s goal-setting strategies, I create a three-pronged approach. 1) Write every day: short stories, scripts, blog posts, whatever! 2) Revise. Repeat. 3) Submit: contests, magazines, agents.

TWO MONTHS IN: I’m blogging! A few people read it! Thank you, people! I found Carrot Ranch and entered their 99-word contests and won one! I entered a short film contest and a flash fiction contest too – didn’t place in either but who cares? I entered! I found a scripted podcast contest via the Austin Film Festival that I was too late to enter this year, but am dying to enter next year.

MID-JUNE: George Floyd was murdered. Black Lives Matter took center stage. COVID continued to rage. My creativity seeped away, replaced by deep sadness, loss and anxiety.

TODAY: I see the culture changes coming. They can’t come fast enough. Breonna Taylor. Jacob Blake. We need our moral compass to right itself. Like many of us, I now live with the tightness gripping my heart. There’s work to do, but there’s room for my storytelling too. I need the outlet to stay sane.

I’m back to blogging. Have I mentioned how much I missed you? But so far, this is all I’ve done. I haven’t drafted any new fiction. I’m not revising the slew of unfinished stories on my laptop. I haven’t started the scripted podcast.

I’m so, so far from selling anything I’ve written. Looking back at my original goal, I see how unfocused it is. It’s such broad, bland goal. I need to reign it in, make it specific, and then figure out what the steps are to achieve it. For example, in reverse order:

* Sell something I write
** Submit for publication and cross my fingers it’s accepted
*** Draft, revise, revise, revise, revise…repeat
**** Find places to submit material. Review submission criteria
***** Build up a stockpile of creative material
****** Draft, revise, revise, revise one story at a time

Of all of my goals, being a writer is the one I claim I want to do the most, but have the hardest time doing. “The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.” This is absolutely true. When I write, that moment feels magical. So what’s my problem? Why don’t I do it?

Does this happen to you? How do you get yourself unstuck? Please drop a comment or send me a message. I’m grateful for any and all advice.

Goals Refresher Part 2 – Community

“Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” my favorite millennial recently said on her podcast.

It’s going on 6 months since COVID-19 upended our world. I took advantage of the forced time with myself to work on a few goals I’ve claimed to want to achieve for years. How am I doing? Let’s find out!

GOAL: MAKE NEW FRIENDS BUT KEEP THE OLD.

COVID-TIMES: Zoom and FaceTime becomes our lifeline. I host a weekly call with my around-the-world girlfriends. I also run a weekly Zoom with two theater lovers. My husband and I join our first real English pub quiz, hosted by our friend Mark (who lives in Nottingham! Robin Hood! Merry Men!)

TWO MONTHS IN: Still going strong on the weekly Zoom calls. Honestly, I enjoy them. I feel more connected to my girlfriends than I have in months, maybe years. Virtual happy hour is a blast!

I experiment with social media. I follow lots of writers and DAYS fans on Twitter. I lurk. I play with the Stories feature on Instagram but delete most of what I publish within minutes. I’m still shy. I don’t know how millennials do it. They are unstoppable sharing machines.

MID-JUNE: The around-the-world group decides to drop down to every other week. The theater gals Zoom remains weekly but caps at under an hour. We don’t have much to talk about. No one’s doing anything new.

I find I’m distracted by social media throughout the day. I’m bolder with commenting and retweeting/sharing. I get why millennials love this. Likes and replies are like little gold stars. I’m a sucker for gold stars.

JULY: I get a DM asking if I’m subscribed to The Freddie and Alyssa Show on YouTube? She recognized my handle from the LiveStream they host on their Producers channel. Her name is Amanda and she lives in Manchester, UK. We DM a bit. Then more and more. She’s so nice!

TODAY: The scheduled Zoom calls still take place, but we all have screen fatigue. I’ve stopped reaching out to most of my friends. Calls and texts from me are rare. I respond but don’t initiate. I use social media to share, but hardly look at what my friends post. It’s the opposite of how I’ve been for years.

FUTURE GOAL: How do I fix this? I still adore my friends, so why am I isolating myself? I’m glum and sad a lot lately. Send me a message or leave a comment below. I’ll take any and all suggestions.

A GOOD THING! Amanda is now a real friend! We now talk by video chat about once a week. It’s great to have someone to talk to about DAYS, but we talk about everything else under the sun too. Look at what she gave me for my birthday!

My favorite millennial and her fiancé! (He’s a fave too, let’s be real)

Next up: Creativity

Goal Refresher Part 1 – Fitness

Remember when I posted I would pivot from effusively blogging about my millennial gurus? I take it back. I can’t help it if Alyssa says great stuff! “Let’s set ourselves up for our future selves to be grateful,” she says in Ep. 097.

I just had a birthday. It’s been about six months since I seriously committed to a few goals. Time to check in, see how I’ve done, and plan what to do from here.

LOSE 20 POUNDS BY LABOR DAY

COVID-TIME: I logged my food. Everything I ate. Every day. I hate logging, but I pivoted my mindset. I decided it would not be terrible. Also, I finally started the Couch-to-5K training app that’s been hanging out on my phone for over 2 years.

TWO MONTHS IN: I completed the Couch-to-5K app in 8 weeks! I can run a 5K! Slow as f*ck but I can do it! And…I lost 10 pounds!

MID-JUNE: Running is stupid. I hate it. I hate Roosevelt Island. I run around and around this island and for what? Only 2 more pounds lost. And you know what else is stupid? Logging food. I hate thinking about it, I hate doing it, it’s dumb. Everything is dumb. I hate all of this. The same thing over and over day in day out BLEAH I’M SO BORED. I’m grumpy. I’m not doing any of it any more. Spoiler alert: I promptly stop losing weight.

Going to the gun show!

JULY: Since it’s too hot and humid to run most mornings, I opt to work out in the living room. I subscribe to The Fitness Marshall. Britney-inspired choreography for hundreds of songs. He’s brilliant! It’s the only workout where I smile as I’m doing it. I love dancing. Try Into You, Rain On Me, or Boss B!tch.

For strength training, I sign up for Snatched in Six Weeks, because you don’t get Michelle Obama arms by wishing for them.

TODAY: I dance with The Fitness Marshall twice a week. It’s still fun! I’m not enjoying Snatched. It’s not Snatched’s fault. Snatched is now Zoom-based due to COVID. I’m sick of everything being on a screen. The magic of the Unicorn Ninjas is their community. In person. I’ll try again when I can Snatch at the MFF Clubhouse, like I was supposed to back in March.

Put-your-pants-on handstand?
Challenge accepted, Mr. Massey.

I downloaded the 5k Faster training app. I don’t love running but I love being outdoors. I need to get away from screens. I have major screen fatigue.

FUTURE GOAL: handstands! Thanks yet again for the fitness inspiration, guru-adjacent Chandler Massey!

I still loathe logging. I’m using my hands as measuring guides. A palm or two of protein, two fists of vegetables, a thumb of healthy fat, a cupped handful of complex carbs or fruit, per meal, 3-4 meals per day. Spoiler alert: It’s not working.

As Mark Fisher says, “You can’t out-train your diet.” He also says, “If you’re not losing weight, 95% of the time it’s because you’re overeating.” Sigh.

This is not how I set my future self up to be grateful. Got any ideas? Comment below or send me a message.

Next up: Community

The Pivot Principle

November 16, 2019: I was two weeks into my new obsession with the Days of our Lives time jump story. It was soapy, sudsy awesomeness: Why is Sonny so sad? Why is Justin kissing Kayla? How did Adrienne die? Why is JJ on drugs? His girlfriend died?! WTF is Xander about? WHY IS WILL IN JAIL. WHY IS HE CELL MATES WITH THE GUY WHO MURDERED HIM A FEW YEARS AGO. Where’d that baby come from? What happened to the other baby? Kristen’s a nun? Why is Ciara a super sleuth? He’s the father of the alive baby and doesn’t know it, but she knows? Gabi is CEO!

It was such a blast because it was the perfect distraction from the sadness, and the rest of my life.

Generation X is well settled in to its midlife crisis, and so was I. My job depressed me. I was overweight and eating terribly. Worst of all, my writing was beyond stagnant. I fancy myself a scifi/fantasy writer (time travel’s my thing) and I hadn’t written much beyond a few short story drafts in a couple of years. Crappy job, crappy health, no creativity, and incredibly stuck. I wanted to change but I’d get paralyzed and overwhelmed and do nothing. So I threw myself into DAYS! Way more fun than throwing myself into me.

Back to November 16, 2019: As I wrote in my last entry, I was scouring the internet for DAYS spoilers. I found myself on Freddie and Alyssa’s YouTube page and stumbled on their audiobook The Pivot Principle. I clicked on “Chapter 10; Pivot Your Health.”

Both Alyssa and Freddie narrate the chapter but Freddie’s part got me. He talks about his issues with weight with a frankness and vulnerability that is brave and heartfelt. His quest for balance after following several “meal lifestyles” (I love this term) really got to me. He suggests writing out your goals and a detailed description of the outcome you want. Get specific about how to achieve them, and figure out your “why”.

I’d written out goals, but I’d never really thought about the details to achieve them. My goals are more like, “lose 30 lbs” or “exercise”, but I didn’t ever write down “log food every day” or “30 minutes of cardio 4 times a week.” I made a mental note to try it sometime soon, and moved on to “Introduction.”

There are a handful of times in my life when I’ve had an A-ha moment. When I recognize a truth that I feel in my heart and soul, this wave of tingles sweeps over my whole body. It’s how I know I’ve learned something important and I’m permanently changed. This happened to me when I heard Alyssa say at 2:42, “The magic you’re looking for is in the work you’re avoiding.”

The truth of her words literally changed me, right in that moment. My heart dropped. The tingles spread all over me. I had to catch my breath! How could someone so young be so wise? Alyssa and Freddie had an understanding of our world that eluded me.

I was ready to learn.

I grabbed my journal and started writing out my goals, and all the steps to achieve them.

Not just health/weight goals, but my career and my creative writing, too. It took several pages. I felt amazing when I finished. What else could I learn from the millennials?