Posted in Productitivity, Time Management For Writers, Writing

Why Multitasking Is A Bad Idea: Plus Tips

If you are like me you have spent most of your life thinking that multitasking was a good thing. I admit I have boasted about my ability to multitask on several occasions. So imagine my shock when my time management research informed me I was wrong. I had to double check my facts because no one likes to be wrong.

 

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See me multitasking here? What my video about multitasking here 

 

So, should you stop multitasking? I was reluctant to give up my multitasking but the following reasons convinced me. Number 4 was the dealbreaker.

  1. You are not really multitasking

What you are actually doing is task switching. Shifting your focus from one task to another.  The big issue is that you are never fully focused on doing one thing so both tasks suffer. Some tasks like eating while walking are less taxing on the mind than others, like texting while driving. Research results show that the brain splits in half. This causes us to forget details and make three times more mistakes when given two simultaneous tasks.

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2. Multitasking doesn’t help you get more done in less time.

Researchers at Stanford determined that doing more than one task at a time is less productive than focusing on one task at a time.

3. Multitasking decreases your productivity and your performance.

Our brains are not wired to focus on more than one task at a time. Working on a single task means both sides of the prefrontal cortex are working together in harmony. Adding another task forces the left and right sides of the brain to work independently.  Brain science also reveals that the brain can’t effectively handle more than two complex, related activities at once.  Each time you more than one task, the brain automatically discards one task.

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4. Multitasking lowers your IQ

Studies in London have shown that multitaskers had a reduction in their IQ scores while multitasking. Some of the multitasking men in the study had their IQ drop 15 points. That left them with the average IQ of an 8-year-old child.

5. You are probably not as good as it as you think.

More studies confirm that most people think they are effective multitaskers, The reality is that less than 2% of people actually have the ability to multitask successfully. The next time you catch yourself multitasking assess your focus on both tasks. Are you really giving equal attention to both or is one on the back burner? Then check the quality of your outcome for both tasks. Did you retain information from both tasks? Where both error free? If you had focused on one task would it be done at a higher quality and in less time?

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So what does this mean for you as a writer? It is time to consider the negative impacts multitasking may have on your writing and implement some positive changes. Here are a few guidelines to get you started on your road to multitasking recovery.

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  1. Focus on one task at a time. Give it your full attention start to finish.
  2. Minimize distractions that will tempt you to multi-task. If you know that you will be tempted to multitask on your phone while writing it is smart to turn it off.
  3. Decide that if something is worth doing it is worth doing with all of your attention. If the task isn’t worth your full time and attention is it really worth doing?
  4. Have a plan for dealing with tasks that come up while you are writing.  One solution is to jot down a quick note on your phone to deal with the task after you finish the one at hand.
  5. Don’t make the mistake of attempting to write and research at the same time. Block off a specific time to research and a specific time to write. Mixing the two is a recipe for using your time ineffectively. It also impacts your creativity because you are switching from right to left brain tasks.
  6. Be mindful. Try a mindfulness app, journal or book to help you get in the habit of being fully present in the moment
  7. Put away your phone. If you are like me, your phone is a huge source of multitasking tendencies.

Here are some links to studies, research, and articles that I gleaned information from to support this blog post.

 

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2010/04/multitasking-splits-brain

 

Posted in Avoid Writer Burnout, Productitivity, Time Management For Writers, Writing

How To Avoid Writer Burnout: 30 Tips & Tricks

According to PsychologyToday burnout is a chronic state of stress that can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

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Writer Burnout

I don’t know about you, but I have experienced burnout in the past and it is not something I care to repeat. The good news is that burnout doesn’t happen overnight and there are many warning signs and symptoms that will let you know if you are in danger of burnout. Check out THIS helpful article about the warning signs.

Effectively managing your time is a great way to avoid burnout. I am going to share my personal methods for avoiding writer burn out because I don’t want any writer to reach that state of chronic stress.  As a writer who suffers from anxiety and depression I have had to learn to manage my stress levels and a bit part of that is time management which includes self-care.

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  1. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR NEEDS

This may seem basic but knowing who you are as a person and a writer is a key to understanding what you need to do to avoid burnout.  I am an introvert. This means that while I love people, being around them drains me of energy. When I am drained of energy I become irritable, snappy. and unproductive.

I require time alone to recharge after being around people. Knowing this about myself allows me to make choices that won’t stress me out. If I have a writers group meeting, a conference to attend, or even a night out that includes socializing I know that I need to schedule in some quiet time to recharge the next day.

Here are a few tips to help you get to know yourself:

  • Journaling
  • Prayer or meditation
  • Take a personality test
  • Reflecting on what made you happy as a child
  • Make a list of things that you love
  • Make a list of things that stress you out
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2. SAY NO. NO EXPLANATION NEEDED

One sure fire way to burnout is to say yes to every opportunity, person, and every idea that comes your way.  I know this because I tend to be a people pleaser who is naturally inclined to (falsely) believe that I am the only one capable of doing stuff.  Learning to say NO changed my life. I still struggle with it at times.  Know that NO is okay and you don’t owe everyone an explanation. Say yes to only the BEST things. Saying yes to the best things is something that I learned from this impactful Christian book. I have provided a link below if you are interested in learning more about it.

best yes

Check out The Best Yes

Tips & Tricks For Embracing Your Right To Say No

  • Accept that you can’t do everything
  • Choose to say yes to the BEST things
  • Don’t feel you must explain your no’s
  • Know what your priorities are and make your choices based on them.
  • Practice saying no

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3. SET YOUR BUSINESS (WRITING) HOURS & SCHEDULE BREAKS

Make time for yourself during your writing. Writing is a creative process. It is important to remember that as you write you are draining your creative well. Take time refill it during the day.  Schedule short breaks in your writing time. Use the breaks to recharge or relax. I keep a list of small simple things I enjoy doing and sprinkle them in throughout my writing work day.

I might spend 5 minutes creating a drawing, organizing a drawer, reading a chapter of a book or watching a short video. Sometimes I spend my five-minute break exercising, sitting on the patio with a glass of tea, or getting ideas on Pinterest. Find what works for you.

Tips for Guarding your time

  • Set business hours for your writing
  • Schedule daily, weekly, and monthly breaks
  • Create a list of small enjoyable things to do on your mini breaks
  • Set a time to check social media and answer emails and stick to it
  • Schedule writing time separate from research, marketing, and editing times.

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4.  TAKE TIME OFF AND CELEBRATE

Writing is hard work and it requires a lot of time, effort, and discipline. To avoid burnout you need to realize that as a truth and plan for time off. My first year of treating my writing as a career was a success in many ways but by the end of it I was bordering on burnout. I was always working. In the morning as I took the kids to school I was thinking about what I would write. Then I was writing, filming videos, and building my author platform during the day. At night I would write blog posts, read writing reference books, write and think about writing. The weekends were more of the same.

Now, you would think that meant I got a lot done. But too much work led to working ineffectively. So, this year I have made it my goal to write smarter not harder. This includes not working on the days my kids have off school and planning for days off. I am getting more done and working less. I am also celebrating my accomplishments. Don’t cheat yourself out of your accomplishments by jumping right into the next project. Treat yourself and celebrate the large and small victories.

How To Celebrate:

  • Plan a yearly vacation. It doesn’t have to be a huge trip, just a break from work.
  • Be mindful and fully present in the current moment
  • Have a plan for celebrating victories, big or small.
  • Make a list of rewards or things that you will do to celebrate
  • Enjoy your successes. Don’t just jump to the next task.
  • Keep a journal of your accomplishments and celebrations

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5. ACCEPT THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE AND EVERYWHERE

This tip is specifically geared toward your social media presence. Most writers are aware that having an author platform and being present on social media is a bit part of book marketing. But, trying to be on every form of social media and trying to reach ALL THE PEOPLE is only going to lead to burnout.

Instead of trying to do it all, pick one or two areas of social media and focus on making real connections in them. Find out where your target readers are and focus your time there. Don’t just post everything everywhere and hope for the best. Be strategic. Use tools like HootSuite to manage your social media. Give yourself permission to take a social media break.

Tips & Tricks for Managing Social Media & Author Platform

  • Have a social media strategy
  • Use tools to automate your posts and emails when possible
  • Find out where your target reader is and focus on building connections on that platform
  • Focus on people, not numbers and not yourself.
  • Make real connections and provide value to your target readers.

I hope that you have found these 30 tips and tricks helpful. As always I am here to connect with you if you have any questions or comments feel free to email me or reach out on social media.

You Matter. Words Matter. And your words matter.

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This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the link I receive an itty bitty commission at no cost to you. I only promote products I find value in and feel you might find valuable as well.

 

Posted in Goals & Goal Setting, Productitivity, Time Management For Writers, Writing

7 Time Management Mistakes Writers Make

Are you making the most of your time? Many writers find themselves juggling writing, another job or career, a family and other obligations. This can make it very challenging to find time to write consistently. Properly managing your time will make you a better writer because you will have more time to write and improve your skills.

Watch the video here

Today I am going to be sharing 7 time management mistakes that I see writers make on a regular basis. Many of them are mistakes that I have made in the past. I love to save other people from making my mistakes by sharing what I learned.

 

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Are you making one of these common time management mistakes?

 

 

#1. Failure to Plan

The biggest mistake a writer can make is not to have a written plan that includes written goals. This includes your writing plan as well a plan for your life in general. Planning is essential to finishing a book, being a consistent blogger or successful freelancer. Sure, you can finish a book by winging it but it will probably take a lot more time and effort.

 

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Are you making the right tasks a prioroity? 

 

 

#2. Failure to prioritize

If you want to be a writer it is important to make it a priority. To do that successfully you need to make time to write. Prioritize your writing (and life)  tasks by focusing on tasks that directly relate to making progress. Aspiring writers often claim they don’t have time to write but the bottom line is that we make time for the things that matter to us. Determine your priorities and prioritize your tasks.

 

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Do you use your to-do list correctly?

 

 

#3 Failure to use a to-do list correctly

Having a to-do list is am an important part of planning. Not only do some writers skip the list altogether, those who do use a to list aren’t using it correctly. Filling up a list with tasks to check off is a waste of time if those tasks are not directly related to making progress on your writing goals. I recommend keeping your daily to list limited to 6 priority tasks. My goal is always to complete 3 of those 6 tasks. Then if time allows I will work on the next 3 or work from a list of lesser important tasks.

 

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I once though multitasking was a GOOD thing. Boy, was I wrong. 

 

#4 Multitasking

I feel like superwoman when I multitask. The problem is that multitasking isn’t an effective way to manage our time or check of the important things from our to-do list. Focusing on one task at a time is a better use of time. I will have an entire blog post and video dedicated to multitasking later in February. So, make sure you are following my blog and subscribed to my YouTube Channel so you don’t miss out.

 

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Do you write when creativity strikes or do you set aside time to write no matter what?

 

#5 Working Non-Stop AKA Not Setting Business Hours For Writing

The flip side of procrastinating is working non-stop. I made this mistake when I switched my writing from hobby mode to career mode. Working constantly, without taking breaks and giving yourself permission to rest guarantees you will reach a point of burn out.  Self-care, rewards, and scheduling your personal and family priorities before work will help achieve the balance needed.

 

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Is it a mistake to mix editing, writing, and researching during the same time frame?

 

#6 Mixing Research with Writing Time

Stopping in the middle of a writing about a car accident to research how a car accident looks, feels and sounds seems like a great idea at the time. I mean, you need to know what you are writing about, right? The problem is that when we stop writing, outlining or editing to research we risk losing the flow of our writing. We risk falling into to the rabbit hole that is the internet. Research is important but doing it at the right time is just as important when it comes to managing our time.

 

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I will stop procrastinating…tomorrow

 

#7 Procrastinating

Putting off a must do task always has an impact on our time. Our writing can come to a complete standstill when we procrastinate. I will have an entire blog post and video dedicated to why we procrastinate as well as tips to stop procrastinating.

The good news is that over the next four weeks I will be tackling all of these time management issues in a series of blog posts and videos. I did a lot of research regarding time management last year when I discovered I wasn’t using my time as wisely as I could. Then I implemented time management strategies and techniques in my own life. After experimenting and tweaking my process, I will say I that time management has allowed me to write more, write better, and still have a balanced life that includes my art hobby, my reading habit, spending time with family and friends, and managing my home.

 

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Posted in Goals & Goal Setting, Productitivity, Writing

Step by Step: How To Achieve (Smash) Your Goals In 2018

Dreaming big? So big that your dreams or goals are overwhelming you? Not sure where to start? I am going to teach you how to smash your goals… into manageable pieces so that you can start making progress today.

Watch the video here! As always, content varies from blog post to video so you get the same basic idea with a different spin in each format!

 

First, let me fill you in on a little secret. I haven’t always been good at achieving my goals. I have had a lot of failures, flops, and frustrations. What changed?  I stopped looking at goals as set in stone and as something to tackle once a year. I started breaking them down on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis.

 

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Dreaming big? Awesome. Now lets make it happen! 

 

I discovered that when I make small amounts of consistent practice I achieve my goals without getting sidetracked, losing interest, or doing things that don’t actually lead to progress on the goal.

I am going to walk you through the process of breaking down your goal step by step. We will pretend your goal is to write a book but you can apply this method to any goal.

 

 

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Does your goal have what it takes to be attainable? 

 

Step One:  Write down the goal.

Your goal needs to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Have a deadline for completion

Ex. I will write a 50,000-word book in 4 months and finish it on _________________.

 

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You need to fully understand why your goal matters to you to achieve it. 

 

Did you know that just by writing your goal down you have already set yourself up for success? Most people don’t take the time to do this step.

Step Two:  Figure out your WHY.

Don’t skip this step. Figuring out why this is important to you will not only keep you focused but it will give you something to look back on when you start to lose interest or the goal seems difficult.  Be honest about your why and don’t feel guilty about it or think that you need to justify it to anyone. This is personal and important

EX:  I want to be a published author. This book has a message that someone needs.  I want to tell a story that people can get lost in. I want to make X amount of money. I need to get this story out of my head.

Did you watch the video? No? Click here

 

Step By Step
Watch my video for EVEN more goal smashing goodness! 

 

 

Step 3:  Braindump what you know

Write everything down that you need to do get this book written or goal achieved.  Start simple but keep going until you have emptied your brain of knowledge. What do you need to learn? Add those topics to your list.

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Lists are a great place to start when you are not sure where to start with goal planning 

Step Four:  Make a List

Compile all of the information from your braindump into a logical step by step list of the things that you need to achieve your goal.

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Dream Big …. but break that dream down into smaller steps

Step Five: Break It Down 

This is the step where the smashing happens. You want to break your goal into pieces using the list you created in Step Five.  Each thing you need to do becomes its own mini goal.  This is will keep you from getting overwhelmed by the length of your list.

Let’s go back to our example goal to see how this might look.

  • GOAL: Write 50,000 words by _________
  • I need to write __________ words every month
  • I need to write _________ Words each week
  • I have ___________ amount of hours each week to write. I need to write _________ amount of words _______________ days a week to finish.
  • You can also break into scenes or chapters if that work better for you.  Now let get even smaller.
  • Say you have 3 hours 3 days a week to write. You know you need to write ______ words each day.
  • You need to write ______ Words per hour.

Before we move to the next step you need to evaluate your plan. Is this reasonable? Can you write this many words per hour? If not, You may need to change the date of your goal or find more time to write by elimination other things from your day. If your goal isn’t reasonable you will fall behind and lose focus.

 

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Truth: if you are not going to actually schedule the work you will not be consistant. 

 

Step 6: Schedule It

Doing all the work of 1-5 is important but if you don’t schedule the work you are less likely to get it done. I admit I am the type of person who enjoys winging things. Something it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The only way to make consistent progress toward a goal is to set a time and do it.

 

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You can. You will. You are. 

 

Step 7:  Do It.

Do the work. Do it when scheduled. I recommend finding an accountability partner or group to share your goals with because it is hard to hold yourself accountable.

 

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What needs to change? What needs to stay the same?

 

Step 8:  Evaluate & Adjust

Even with a detailed plan, the reality of life is that it doesn’t always go as planned. There will be interruptions, setbacks, and changes that have the potential to keep you from achieving a goal. The key is to regularly evaluate your goals, deadlines, and action steps. Look at both the successes and the failures, what worked, and what did not. Change your actions steps, your timeline, and your goals as needed.

 

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Celebrate the smalls steps and enjoy the process. 

 

Step 9:  Enjoy & Celebrate

It is always easier for me to see my failures than my successes. That can be detrimental to achieving goals. It is so important to take time to enjoy the process, make note of your successes, big and small and really focus on seeing progress and growth.  Struggle leads to progress and celebrating that progress is deserved.

Posted in Goals & Goal Setting, Motivation, Productitivity, Quarterly Goals, Writing

Tips & Tricks For Staying Focused On Your Goals In 2018

Are you ready to rock your goals in 2018? If so, it is a great idea to be prepared for those days when you get distracted, burnt out, or start to lose interest in your goals. I am going to share some tips and tricks that will help you stay focused on your goals in 2018.

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Write Down Your Why

There is power in writing down your goals, but don’t stop there. Write down all the reasons that your goals matter to you. This is no time to shy away from honestly because knowing why you want your goal is just as important as setting it.

Later in your year, or next week if you are like me, you might find yourself unsure of your goals or frustrated with your progress. That is when referring back to those written reasons for your goal will be the push you need to get you motivated and back on track.

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Post Your Goal… Everywhere

One of the reasons many people fail to achieve a goal is because they lose sight of it. We live in a world of distractions that fosters forgetfulness. Out of sight can truly mean out of mind and out of mind means you are working toward it.

That is exactly why you should post your goal in as many places as possible. Here is a short list of possibilities:

  • On the fridge
  • On your bathroom mirror
  • Dashboard in your car
  • In your planner
  • On your wall calendar
  • Screensaver or wallpaper on your phone and computer
  • On your desk
  • On the wall in a pretty frame
  • In your Art Journal
  • In your daily journal
  • On a bookmark

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Schedule Regular Goal Checkups

Just as health checkups are important for our health goal checkups are a necessary part of being a goal achiever. I like to check in on my goals daily, monthly, and quarterly.  Whatever time frame you choose here are a few tips and tricks to help you out.

  • Schedule Goal Checkups as if they are real Dr’s appointments. That means a date and time!
  • Set a reminder or alarm for your scheduled time and write it in your planner.
  • Have your goal list ready. I keep a copy on my phone, in my bullet journal, and on Trello.
  • Track and Evaluate each goal. Are you on track? Are you behind? What do you need to adjust
  • Celebrate your progress.

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Partner Up!

Don’t keep those goals a secret. It is way to easy to lose focus if you don’t share them with someone. Find a likeminded accountability partner to share your goals, progress and yes, your failures with.

The important thing is to find the right person and be clear about what you expect. Accountability can really drive you to do more than you would if you were only accountable to yourself.

Where to Find A Partner:

  • Social media
  • Facebook Groups
  • Local writers group (if you are a writer – if not skip that one.)
  • A friend or family member
  • Church

Set Limits

If you want to meet your goals you are going to have to make some hard choices. Sometimes that means setting limits on your time, your money, and other projects. The world loves to tell us that we can do it all, have it all, and then get more. Truthfully, that leaves us tired, broken and defeated.

Not only should you make your goals realistic you should set limits for other things in your life when they start to compete with the time you have set aside for your goals.

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Reward & Celebrate

Even achieving your goal can feel unsatisfying if you don’t take time to celebrate it before pushing on to the next goal. Your life becomes a neverending checklist and you are so caught up in it that you have forgotten how important it is that you achieved the goal.  It is a great idea to have a reward list handy. Include both big, medium, and small rewards so that you can celebrate every success, no matter the size. Here are few ideas to get you started.

  • A trip to the bookstore
  • A relaxing bath
  • New Music
  • An evening out
  • A trip to a local attraction
  • Indulge in chocolate or wine
  • Fresh Flowers
  • Read a book
  • Buy something pretty
  • Drink fancy coffee
  • Go swimming
  • A spa day with friends
  • Get a message
  • Go to the movies
  • Dinner out
  • A new pen or art supply
  • Pretty stationary
  • A whole day to do whatever you want.

There you have it! Some fantastic tips and tricks for staying goal focused. What are your favorite ways to stay focused? What do you struggle with the most?

 

Posted in Goals & Goal Setting, Life, Motivation, Productitivity, Theme Words

How A Theme Word Can Help You Crush Your Goals In 2018! *Bonus* List of Theme Words

Have you heard about choosing a theme word for your year? Wondering what the heck a theme word is if you need one and why? This is the post for you. So, let’s get right to it and dig into this mysterious idea of a theme word.

What is a theme word?

It is a word that you choose with the intention of focusing on what that word means to you in the upcoming year. I have also heard them referred to as focus, guiding or soul words.

 

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Bonus: List of possible theme words to get you started. Keep reading for the full list. 

 

Do I need one & why?

Obviously, Theme words are optional. Not everyone is into them and that is okay.  However, there are benefits to choosing a theme word. Having a theme for anything helps you to narrow in and focus on what needs to be done.

A theme word can be beneficial to your goal setting process.  It can also help you to make choices throughout the year. For example, if your theme word is balance, you probably chose it because things are out of balance for you and you want to make balance a part of your life.  As you set your goal for the year you can hone in on what balance looks like to you and make your goals and choices revolve around creating balance in all areas of your life. If you receive a job offer, opportunity or idea later in the year you can evaluate it based on your theme word and make the best choice for you and your goal of balance.

One thing to keep in mind about these words is that they can change before the year is up and you can choose a theme word at any time. Check out my personal story of how my theme word changed for 2018 in my  Video About Theme Words

 

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Don’t forget to watch the video! It has more reasons you need a theme word plus my personal story of how my theme word changed fo in 2018. 

 

It is okay to readjust as the year goes along and pick a new word if the old one is no longer relevant to you.

Because when it comes right down to it, a theme word is all about you, what you want for your life and what is important to you. Just taking time to figure that out and selecting a focus word can give you so much clarity.

If a theme word sounds like something you are interested in you can dive into the list of possible words below and see if any of them fit you in 2018. If you have already chosen your theme word, tell me about it!

 

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Do you need focus? Clarity? A theme word can help with that! 

 

How do I choose a theme word?

Don’t make it too complicated.  Start by thinking about what is important to you right now. What do you want more of or less of in the coming year? Sit down and spend some time praying or reflecting on the things that matter to you, your goals, and what you want from your life.

Grab a sheet of paper and jot down all of the things that are important to you this year. List what you want to happen this year. Write out how you want to feel.  What does your ideal day look like?.

After you have dumped all of your thoughts on paper it is time to look for a common theme in the words you wrote.  Putting it down on paper is a great way to see the possible connections between the things that you want.

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List Of Possible Theme Words For 2018

Here is a list of theme words to get you started!

  • Abundance, Align, Art, Able
  • Balance, Better, Beauty, Believe
  • Clarity, Courage, Consistent, Confidence, Celebrate, Connect, Change
  • Determination, Daring, Discipline, Dreams
  • Evolve, Enlightened, Enough, Expression, Expand, Embrace
  • Free, Focus, Flourish, Faith, Fearless,
  • Grace, Grow, Guiltfree,
  • Holy, Happy, Healthy
  • Influence, Ignite, Intentional,
  • Joy, Jovial
  • Kindness, Knowledge
  • Love, Learning, Logic, Loyal, Listen, Logic, Leadership
  • Money, Magic, Move, Merry, Make it Happen
  • Openness, Opportunity, Optimism,
  • Peace, Patience, Progress, Purpose,
  • Rejoice, Reclaim, Reveal, Revolution,
  • Spirit-led, Soul, Seek, Solitude, Strength, Solutions,
  • Trust, Truth, Try
  • Unique
  • Voice, valor, virtue
  • Winning, Worry Free, Wisdom
  • Zeal

I would love to know what your theme word is! Comment here or follow me on social media and let me know your theme word for 2018.

 

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Fun tip! Keep your theme word front and center. Check out my society6 store for fun products like the embrace the mess mug. Just search for author april on the society6 website. 

 

Posted in Goals & Goal Setting, Life, Motivation, Productitivity, Quarterly Goals, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing

How to Make New Years Resolutions that you can stick to in 2018

Let’s be honest. We are in the 2nd week of 2018. How many of us have already failed or forgotten about our New Years Resolutions? How many of us are still trying to figure those out?
I know that I have fallen into both roles many times in the past. This year, I am still in the process of planning my resolutions because I want resolutions I can stick to. I want resolutions that are more than something I think about in January.  I am going to walk you through a process of making resolutions you can stick to.
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Words are important.
So, let’s start by defining what a resolution is and what it is not.  A resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not do something. Doesn’t that make the whole New Years Resolution thing sound easy? All you need to do is make a firm decision to do or not to do something.  The bad news is that a resolution without a plan will probably fail.  Only 8% of people achieve their resolutions and 80% fail by February.
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I witnessed this happen year after year when I worked at a fitness center.  In January the gym was flooded with new members. By March the gym was back to normal, with only a few of the new faces sticking around. Don’t give up yet you can be the new face that sticks around. You can be in that 8%.  Put my Four P’s of Resolutions to work for you.
P= Plan
Resolution to Goal  
The first step to making a realistically achievable resolution is to take your resolution from that firm decision to a goal.  A decision no matter how firm, means nothing if you don’t do something about it.  A goal has a deadline. A goal is a decision with an end date. The top New Year’s resolution that people make is to lose weight. So, let’s practice with that example.
Resolution: I am going to lose weight.
Goal: I am going to lose weight by December 31 of this year.
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P= Plan

Goal to Great Goal:

A great goal is big, achievable, specific and written down.  Simply by writing your goal down, you have a greater chance of achieving it. Making it specific will make it achievable. Once you know
Goal: I am going to lose weight by December 31 of this year.
Great Goal: I am going to lose 50 lbs, and keep it off by December 31st of this year.
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Great Goal to Realistic Plan of Action
If you have gotten this far with your resolution you are ahead of the pack. If you want to increase your chances of achieving your goals you need to take things one step further and create an Action Plan.  One way to do this is to brainstorm all of the ways you can achieve the goal. Once you have all your options on paper you can begin selecting the best options for you and build a plan.
Action Plan for losing 50 lbs by Dec 31
(This is just an example of what I might include if this was my goal, not a suggestion that this is how you can lose weight)
* Track food intake daily
*Break down how many lbs you need to lose each month to achieve your goal
* Get a personal trainer or create a workout and nutrition plan
* Work out X number of days per week
*Replace 1 meal with a healthier option each week
*Find a support group, a workout buddy or accountability partner and set up daily, weekly, & Monthly check in’s.
* Pray Daily for Strength
* Make a list of nonfood rewards
* Add deadlines to all possible action steps and put them on your calendar.
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P= Partner Up

Action Plan to Partner Up

Once you have an action plan there is another important step that many are apt to skip. Find an accountability partner to share your goals with. This works because it is harder to give up when you know someone knows what you are doing and will be checking in with you. You can also join communities and groups of like-minded people online or in person.

Knowing you are not alone in your quest will equip you to succeed and a community can provide a wealth of encouragement and knowledge.  Which brings me to my own personal method of making my resolutions.

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P = Pray

Can you skip this step? When I make my own resolutions and goals I may fail or succeed.  When I am relying only on my wisdom, wants, and strengths it is always harder and more overwhelming to reach my goals. That is where prayer can be a game changer.

Going to God and asking for his wisdom and guidance before making a firm decision to do something or not to do something always gives me peace, clarity, and a focus that I can’t get on my own.

I encourage you to take this step. If you have already set goals for the year it isn’t too late. It is never too late to go to God and ask for his guidance. It might just stop you from wasting valuable time on something you were never supposed to tackle. It might just give you the clarity that you are on the right track. It might reveal another goal altogether. When I invite God along, follow his leading, and rely on him I am set free from relying on myself.

My Story

This happened to me this year. I decided to choose a focus word, theme word, or soul word to base 2018 around. I love words and It sounded like a neat way to keep focus. I dug through a list of suggested words and picked one that I liked.

Then in a later prayer, God gave me a different word. With the word came a promise, clarity and focus that I did not have the word I picked on my own. I will be sharing my F Soul Word for 2018 and why you might need one too in an upcoming post.

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P= Put Your Goals In Front of You

The last P is to put those goals somewhere you will see them every single day. You want as many visual reminders of your goals and dreams as you can make. It is easy to loose focus if your goals are shoved in a notebook in the back of your desk. Here are a few ways you can keep your goals front and center. Tell me how you do this! I would love to know.

  • Create a vision board
  • Create a graphic with words and use it as your screen saver on your phone and computers
  • Pick an object that relates to your goal and keeps it around you. If your goal is to lose weight you might pick out a goal outfit and keep photos of it on your desk, phone, or even in your car.
  • Write your goal on every page of your wall calendar
  • Post it’s on your bathroom mirror, tv, or radio in your car.
  • Write it down every single day.