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Are you a New Year’s goal setter? Or do you prefer not to set yourself up for failure like the gazillion others whose resolutions will only last another week if they’re lucky? Ha!

Actually, I’ve learned a lot about goal setting from my failure to fulfill those long lists of wishes. Mostly because I tend to bite off more than I can chew. And I aim too high without thinking through all the steps involved before setting out on the journey.

Over the years of getting closer to reaching my goals, I’ve finally landed on two main strategies that keep me focused during the day-to-day grind in the virtual trenches of this war against my natural bent toward laziness. The first is having a single word for the year…and the second is to forget about yearly goals and focus on the next three months instead. Both strategies simplify the process for my overcrowded brain and that alone helps set me up for success!

My word for 2019 is Relationship. In the busy-ness of starting to independently publish a few titles in addition to my new job as an editor, fiction deadlines were beginning to intrude on my priorities of faith and family. After much conviction and prayer, I feel God’s tug back toward intentional investment in the relationships of my life starting from the top and trickling down. Child of God, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, editor, author, neighbor, … 

It all comes down to relationship. Communication and compromise and commitment. And being fully present in the moment and available for the people in my life instead of constantly checking my phone or multi-tasking with the television playing in the background. So, I’m keeping this word at the front of every day’s decisions, and if I can do that one thing, the year will be a success.

Which brings me to my goals for the next three months. Honestly, I have a bigger long term goal to increase my backlist of titles and build traction in the marketplace, but that’s too much pressure to carry every day. So, in this first quarter, on the writing side of life, I’m releasing the first of the Within the Castle Gates series and fast-drafting the next two books.

That’s it.

And that’s everything. Because to do that, I’ll need to show up to write a little bit every day. But it’s only for the next twelve weeks and then I can adjust my routine If I want to.  But in the meantime, that personal discipline in one habit will tend to overflow to other areas in life like choosing water over soft drinks or going for a walk with my husband after supper. (In fact, building strong habits and routines is at the core of my plan for the first quarter of this year.)

I got a new amazingly comprehensive planner for 2019 and it includes all sorts of handy charts to break down my big writing goals into quarterly projects, monthly tasks, and then even the weekly steps that get assigned to specific days. And it’s got several checkbox charts to track other habits I want to develop. Once I’ve got it set up, all I have to do is “win the day” until day after day I made progress toward the big picture.

In the past, I’ve always kept my eyes on the big picture, but this year I’m leaning on this planner to go a different direction by going small. And when there are only three things to get done today, suddenly I’m less overwhelmed and momentum can build while creativity flourishes.

And speaking of creativity, the first installment of Within the Castle Gates releases today!

Available in ebook today ~ Print version coming SOON!

But Stepping Into the Light is only the first of many books releasing this year. Readers can expect Sing a New Song, Gloria’s story in The Wardrobe series, in May with another Christmas novella to wrap up that series in November. And then assuming I can keep on track with my quarterly writing goals, there are three more historical titles in the Within the Castle Gates series tentatively scheduled to release this year…with the tie-it-all-together contemporary novel to release in early 2020.

Wow. That’s crazy when I think about it! So I won’t think about 2020 yet or even the second half of this year. Instead, I’m only focused on the next three months and taking it one daily habit at a time.

What about you? Are you an annual goal-setter or an anti-resolution rebel? Do you pick a word for the year? What are you focusing on this first quarter?

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