Successful people do consistently what normal people do occasionally.

That’s a saying I heard recently from a sermon by Craig Groeschel. Well, the sermon is a year old, but I listened to it again recently because it’s on a topic that is my word for the year, and in which I hope will make some desired changes in my life.

The sermon series is a three-part series called habits. And yes, habit is my word for this year. I know, it’s a bit odd, but let me explain how I got there.

As many of you know I’m trying to develop a writing career. On my free time I write fiction (primarily) and I have a dream of writing fiction full-time. I’ve published a few books, but I’m not where I want to be.

As I evaluated my projects last year I came to the conclusion that I was not satisfied with the amount of work I accomplished. I’ve work hard the last few years to have more time in my schedule to write, yet I didn’t feel like my productivity lived up to the time I had available to put into writing.

Every year I make goals (actually, more often than once a year as I make adjustments continually), and this year my goals were extra lofty (?). in fact, maybe too much so. but that’s looking if I work with the same gusto I did in 2019. I’m not satisfied with that, so I’m determined to make some changes.

That’s where the series habits comes in. It’s a series I watched last year and it came to mind when I considered what I needed to do to become more productive. Now I’m reevaluating my whole life system and considering what I need to change to become the person I want to be and achieve the things I want to complete.

I’m determined to make some new habits.

I don’t have it all figured out yet, but my overall goal for the year is to figure it out. I’ll share my plan, as chaotic as it might seem.

I’ll start with my spiritual life, since that is the most important to me. I’m not satisfied with my quiet time. I’ve been inconsistent with spending time with God and I want that to change. I’ve decided that since I have this new smart phone that barely gets more use than my old flip phone did, I should start there. My goal is to do a devotional through the YouVersion Bible App on my phone first thing every morning. It takes me ten minutes to read through and pray. It’s not a large goal, which is why I should be able to succeed. So far, so good. The idea isn’t that it’s a large, grand accomplishment each day but that I do the action consistently. If I accomplish it, that’s 3,660 minutes I’ll spend focusing my the start of my days on my spiritual journey. That’s 60 hours. Not a bad start.

That’s one of the two items I’m adding to my schedule. The other is the ten minute timer. This I’m adding to increase my writing.

In 2019 I did a lot of revision work and not a lot of new story writing. That’s going to change in 2020. I am trying a new method of using a ten minute time that so far has helped me focus on writing. One of the problems I’ve faced is getting easily distracted by, well, by about everything.

I determine ahead of time, then set a timer (another nifty feature of my new smart phone) for ten minutes. Then the only thing I do for those ten minutes is write. No editing, revising, laundry, checking e-mail, or anything else. Just writing new words. So far this has been a huge help at helping me focus for short stints. In fact, it’s how I’ve written this column, although with the looming newspaper deadline every Tuesday afternoon I’ve had little problem in the past of getting my column complete.

But when I’m writing fiction I tend to spend much too much time thinking about what I’m doing instead of doing it. Thinking about things too much is a problem I’ve had for most of my life. Hopefully, at least in this area of my life, I can mitigate that issue a bit.

When it came to deciding what I should give up this year, I had way too many viable contestants to pick just one. But I also know if I pick several I’m less likely to even complete one. So I came up with another plan.

Every month I’m going to give up one thing, and only for that month. If I decide I like life without what I’ve given up for that month I can keep going. Also, as I try life without many different things I hope to get a good idea of what I want to let go of permanently and what I think I can get rid of.

For January I have given up watching any shows, which means no Netflix or Amazon Prime. I don’t have television. Already I’ve noticed how much time I have and I’ve read a lot more, which makes me happy. I like reading more than I like watching a show, but a lot of times watching a show is much easier to do. Plus, with the online format, it can be hard to watch just one.

My writing goal for 2020 is to self-publish 2-3 books, send query letters throughout the year to agents/publishers for three of my books, and to write 2-4 new stories. I really want to be on the high end of those goals, so I’ve determined to adjust my time and my life accordingly.

Besides, if I want to write full-time at home I need to have stronger writing discipline and I need to have it in place before the opportunity presents itself.

My life is too short, my time too valuable, and my calling too important to squander my time away.

I want to invest my life, not spend it.

Too many goals drown in a sea of good intentions

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