I’m back from my Christmas trip to see the extended family, where we enjoyed each other’s company but the entire family got sick again…because…of course? I hope everyone’s holidays were at least as good as mine. *smile*
Thanks go out to Elizabeth Randolph who filled in for me last week! I hope you all caught her guest posts on tapping into our story’s universal and primal aspects and on her insights for marketing locally.
This time of year is ripe for wrap-ups of what we accomplished over the previous year and statements of goals or resolutions for the new year. However, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions.
Life Doesn’t Always (Ever?) Go to Plan
Most resolutions to exercise more or eat healthier don’t survive the month of January, potentially leading a lot of people to feel like failures as the year wears on. As a perfectionist, I already have plenty of things to beat myself up about, and I don’t need to add to the list, thank you very much.
Regular readers might have noticed that I post a lot about making realistic goals or how to find a healthy life balance. As with many writers, my writing is often a form of therapy, and all those posts are reminders to me to do X, Y, or Z.
Those of you who follow my blog know that this past year was a struggle for me in many ways. My health was a huge factor in that struggle, as I fell victim to not one but two(!) antibiotic-resistant infections, needed surgery to undo a year’s worth of work on my jawbone after a second failure, and suffered dozens of setbacks.
I know many others struggled this past year too, so it might be easy to reach the end of 2017 and feel like a failure. Maybe we think we didn’t accomplish enough or we didn’t reach a certain goal or milestone. But I want to enter the New Year with a more positive spin. *smile*
Question Your Measures of Success
A few months ago, I shared 6 steps to better define our success. It’s important to understand what success means to us, both for the setting of goals and for the sense of accomplishment.
If we haven’t defined success, how will we know when we’ve succeeded? And if we think we haven’t yet succeeded, how will that make us feel?
Especially if we’re comparing our progress to others or looking at our still-long to-do list, it’s almost a given to feel like we haven’t done enough. If we’re using the wrong measures of success, we’re more likely to be unsatisfied.
Pressure to Accomplish Can Cause Stress and Guilt
As I confessed to my writing-bestie Angela Quarles this past weekend, I’ve had to accept that while I always get more accomplished with deadlines, given my craptacular health lately, deadlines would just add stress—and stress would not help my health.
That acceptance is incredibly hard for me because I’m not just a perfectionist, I’m an over-achieving perfectionist. Much of my sense of self-worth is tied up in what I feel like I’ve accomplished.
So it’s nearly impossible for me to avoid feeling bad about myself when I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much. Depression has lurked in the wings of my mental attitude this whole past year.
“Luckily,” all those health setbacks throughout the year have been a good reminder of just why it’s been so hard for me to get things done this year. *laughs and cries*
I’m probably not alone with that mental tie between self-worth and accomplishments. Seeing the remaining items on our to-do list can interfere with our memory of the things we did check off (or that we didn’t give ourselves credit for but should have). We usually accomplish more than we think we do.
On Twitter, I retweeted the following positive insight from Megan:
For anyone reflecting on their year and feeling like a failure for not doing enough:
– whatever you did this year is enough
– their achievements don’t make yours any less important
– your value is not measured by your productivity
– it’s okay if all you did is survive
— Megan 🐼 (@bodyposipanda_) December 30, 2017
My 2017 Successes: The Positive Spin
It’d be easy to look at my lack of much writing last year and beat myself up. Much, much too easy.
I mean, even with running guest posts during NaNoWriMo, I still managed to get in only a few hundred words in November. (I was feverish and sick then too. *sigh*)
But I really want to work on seeing the positive this year. So here’s my silver-lining wrap up of the year…
Despite multiple surgeries (including one to undo the failed results of the previous year’s worth of surgeries), more rounds of antibiotics than the total of my life previously (which caused negative reactions), a two-month-long toxic infection that nearly put me in the hospital, and countless other setbacks:
- I released a book, Stone-Cold Heart. Sure, the release was a year behind schedule and most of the writing/editing work was completed in 2016, but I did what I needed to do to make the release a success. I even developed an Advanced Reader program for my new releases.
- I completed a total overhaul of my website: new format, new theme, new graphics, new plugins, new pages, new coding, new customizations, etc. Each of those aspects represents several days of work.
- I took control of my health the best I could, such as by researching, developing, and completing my own physical therapy program (our insurance doesn’t cover anything), and I can once again walk—without pain. Yay!
- I also researched alternative treatment options for my incurable C.Diff. infection (as my doctor’s plan ignored my other health issues and the standard medical practice in general would have made things worse), and my self-treatment has successfully kept the symptoms of poisons and toxins under control for nine months so far.
- I kept up with my blog, running posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Yes, I leaned on help from guest posters now and then and reran a few older posts, but the majority of posts contained new content from me.
- In addition to those posts, I did get in 9640 fiction words. That’s not much compared to my goals/hopes/expectations, but it’s still better than nothing.
- I managed to be there for my family, keeping up with the support they needed and participating in family activities, appointments, and errands. (My final tally of making Christmas cookies for neighbors, friends, and family this year was 638 cookies. *whew*)
Celebrate Your Wins!
Listed like that, I can see that I accomplished a lot. I have nothing to feel guilty about. (Gee, listing our wins really can help reframe our thoughts. The advice works!)
Don't feel guilty about not accomplishing A, B, or C. You did J, Q, and X! Click To TweetTo some of you, that list might look pathetic, and to others, that list might look amazing. But as Megan said in her tweet, whatever we did is enough.
Just because we didn’t get A, B, or C done doesn’t erase the fact that we did get J, Q, and X done. Did you learn something, research something, or figure out what didn’t work? That’s a win!
Even if we didn’t “complete” anything, any progress we made is still progress, setting us up for the future. (It can take us years to be ready to publish, etc.) So let’s leave the guilt behind, give ourselves credit for whatever we did accomplish, and resolve to make healthy and realistic goals for this year. *smile*
To help, here’s a sampling of some of my recent encouraging and/or tip-filled posts about goals and dealing with stresses (in addition to the define your success post I linked above):
- Self-Care for Writers
- Too Many Demands? Find Balance — Guest: Christina Delay
- Chronic Problems: Writing and Burnout
- Writing Goals: Are They Set Up for Us to Win?
- Publishing Lessons: We Cannot Do It All
- How to Write Despite … Whatever — Guest: Jenna Victoria
Do you feel guilty about the things you don’t get done? Or do you struggle to give yourself credit for the things you do accomplish? Have you made a list like I did above to try to capture your wins? Or can you at least put a positive spin on your year? Do you have any advice to make the acceptance process easier?Pin It