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January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! How Can We Create More Success?

Silhouetted people jumping high with text: How Can We Create More Success?

Yay! We survived another year! I don’t know about you, but sometimes that goal feels rather iffy during the year, so yes, surviving is an accomplishment. *smile*

Last time, we talked about analyzing our failures from the past year. But we’re starting fresh with a whole new year now, and we want to concentrate more on good things, right?

So let’s talk about what things worked for us and what we want to continue in the new year. Believe me, we can all come up with something. Think about this exercise like those overly optimistic Christmas letters where we all sound like geniuses who live perfect lives.

As I mentioned last year, those shiny-happy Christmas letters can be good for us:

“Christmas letters are all about putting our best face forward for others. … I often feel lame when I start (because my life feels lame), but by the time I finish, it becomes a good exercise in reminding myself of all the good things that happened to my family during the year.

Sometimes the bad things rise into our memory more easily. Too easily.

But when we concentrate on the good things, we force ourselves to see—in one place—all those positive things. That end-of-year review can be good for us and our mental health. It can make us feel more grateful, more aware, and more blessed.”

A writing version of this “focus on our successes” can help us see what we’ve accomplished and what behaviors, habits, learning opportunities, appreciation moments, etc. we want to continue.

If we never take the time to recognize what we did right, we’ll be worse off. We need that recognition to give ourselves credit. We need that recognition to ensure we don’t let our good habits fall by the wayside. And we need that recognition so we know how to push our successes through into the new year.

So to get the year off to a positive start, we can think about all the good things in our writing life…

#1: What Have We Accomplished?

The big things on this list could be anything from finishing a manuscript to publishing a book, but don’t forget the little things. Maybe we sent out our first query letter, or maybe we learned something new from a blog post or workshop.

In other words, this step is all about recognizing what we were able to check off our to-do lists. We often accomplish more than we realize so taking the time to think of the tangible successes can help us feel more positive about ourselves.

(Yes, when I do something that’s not on my to-do list, I’ve been known to write it on the list after I finish, just so I can cross it off. *smile*)

The point of this step is paying attention to the kinds of accomplishments that mean something to us. Which ones feel more significant and why?

  • Does it depend on the size of the project?
  • Does it depend on whether the accomplishment strongly ties in to our long-term goals?
  • Does it depend on how much we dreaded the step before we started? Etc., etc.

By figuring out what accomplishments seem to matter most to us, we might discover insights into our subconscious priorities and goals. And that information can help us determine our priorities and goals for the new year.

#2: What Are We Proud Of?

Some of this list might overlap with our accomplishments list, but some of it won’t. Some things we’re proud of might not have a tangible element that would appear on a to-do list.

Maybe we touched someone with our writing, or maybe we took a risk with a story. Maybe we helped another writer take the next step, or maybe we found a drafting process that works better for us.

The point of this step is to pay attention to what makes us proud. Then we know we should do more of that. *smile*

Or if we don’t feel proud enough of what we’ve done, that might mean we’re too hard on ourselves. It’s okay to celebrate the little steps along our journey and not just focus on the end goal.

In fact, recognizing those steps is probably healthier for us. We’ll never learn everything we need to know, so there’s no destination for this journey. We’re better off if we learn to enjoy the ride. *grin*

#3: What Makes Us Feel Special?

Again, this list might overlap with the other two, but some of it won’t because we’re less in control of these moments in our lives. Maybe we got a great review, or maybe we made a deep connection with a new friend on social media.

We can’t force a beta reader to love our story, and we can’t make someone leave a comment on our blog. In other words, we can’t control whether we get more of these moments in the new year. So why do we focus on this aspect?

The point of this step is to pay attention to what does make us feel special, and then when those moments happen in the new year—stop. Enjoy the moment. Savor the moment. Swim deep in the moment.

We deserve to feel special, so when the opportunity presents itself, we want to make the most of it. It’s too easy to gloss over when good things happen, but letting them sink deeply into our memory helps weave them into our psyche.

By recognizing the positives in our writing life, we’ll be more likely to know how to continue them into the new year. We might drop a good habit if we don’t know it exists, and we can’t carry our successes into the future if we don’t know our goals, priorities, or dreams.

We need to take the time every once in a while to figure out what success feels like to us so we can make sure we’ll recognize it in the future. Here’s hoping we all can come up with long lists! *smile*

Do you struggle to recognize the positive elements in your life? Are some aspects of success easier for you to focus on than others (tangible vs. intangible, etc.)? What types of accomplishments resonate most with you? What things make you proud (do they have to be tangible)? What makes you feel special?

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Meg Justus

Something I’ve learned over the years — I do much better learning when I’m told what I’m doing right instead of having my wrongs corrected. If I know for sure that I’m doing something right, then I can work on it to improve it still more.

On the other side of that coin, if something I’m doing is ignored by the teacher, then I know I’m not doing it right, and I can ask what I need to do to get it right.

Of course, this is much more difficult when there’s no teacher or mentor around to do this important job. Or even an ex-husband, whose attempts to teach me to ski once upon a time improved vastly once he figured out that telling me what I was doing wrong didn’t help me one bit, but encouraging me to do more of the things I did right really did [wry g].

Carradee

I’ve gotten some cheap notepads from the dollar store, each one a good size for detailing 1 day’s plans. I’m hoping it’ll help me remember I’m a spoonie. (Not from lupis, but other things.)

I have to keep in mind that I can’t compare myself to someone who’s well. It’s when I do that that I get frustrated (and discouraged, and topple into getting NOTHING done). I’m slowly getting better at planning to account for that.

All just part of life. 🙂

robin witt
robin witt

“Swim deep in the moment.”
What a lovely sentence 🙂
Happy New Year

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[…] help us take advantage of our possibilities, Jami Gold focuses on how to continue our successes from 2014, Jennie Nash has 13 necessary steps to become a successful writer this year, Daphne Gray-Grant […]

Serena Yung
Serena Yung

Hey Jami, Well writing and reading wise, I’m extremely pleased with the stuff I accomplished, including: —–1500 + pages of CHINESE writing in my series! This is the longest story I have ever written. Not including the huge series where I’ve only finished two backstory novels of, lol. This is especially great for me since Chinese is not my first language (it’s my 1.5th language because it’s stronger than a second language, lol). At the start of the year, I thought, OMG my Chinese typing speed is so slow. I’ll NEVER make progress on this!!!! And now I already wrote 1,500, so I disproved my belief that I couldn’t write a novel series in my 1.5th language. :D. —-my Chinese typing speed has increased from less than 1000 words an hour to a maximum of 1800-2000 words an hour! I usually do only 1500-1600 words/ hr though, to avoid hurting my thumbs too much. But still that’s a big improvement in just one year! —–I started new writing trends for myself, i.e. I started writing about stuff or in ways I’ve never written before. E.g. very long dialogue scenes—I had long dialogue scenes before, but those were all rather short compared to these, and my past dialogues were almost all very plot-relevant; very little was just character/ relationship development. E.g. 2: This is my first ever attempt at a romantic comedy! And it’s super fun! E.g. 3: This is my first time writing a story with SO MANY subplots and…  — Read More »

Pat Ireland
Pat Ireland

It might sound strange to say that a failure increases confidence but that is exactly what happened to me last year. My NaNo 2013 novel — the first piece of long fiction I have ever finished, and a manuscript that I struggled to revise all throughout last year — turned out to be a disaster. (Good premise, bad plotting. The experience was a success insofar as I did finish the draft. But the draft itself is beyond redemption.)
However, Novel #2 is going to be substantially stronger as a result of that experience, if for no reason than I learned a number of things that don’t work from Novel #1. (I also learned several things that do work for me, and most importantly, I learned that I can actually complete a novel-length manuscript.)
Facing the failure of that first attempt and analyzing why it failed has taught me a lot. Reading blogs like yours — thank you, Jami! — has taught me even more. And with Novel #2, I’m substantially more confident about both my skills and my story. So as far as I’m concerned, the experience was not a failure. It was a delayed-onset success.

Pat Ireland
Pat Ireland

PS – I’m sorry I mis-spelled your name, Jami. 🙁

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[…] of the year, and I’ve already seen several retrospectives analyzing what we can learn from what succeeded and what failed over the past […]

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