Today is ‘Evaluate Your Life Day’. Oh yes… It’s an official day for us all to reflect on the things we’ve done, to think about the path we’ve travelled and to plan for the journey ahead of us. Or, for me, I found it’s to reflect on some of the things I really should have done by now and haven’t. Like save and plan for my retirement and be financially fab. Basically, my quick snapshot evaluation showed me I’m screwed.
The sensible ones amongst you are probably evaluating often. I thought I did, but realised soon I haven’t ever properly done it and it was too big a task to do in one day. So I decided that focussing on my ‘writing life’ on ‘Evaluate your Life’ day won’t remind me as much that I’m pretty useless at being a responsible and sensible adult.
Why evaluate your life?
Despite it having the potential to be quite an over-whelming, anxiety-inducing task, evaluating your life is an important thing to do. It helps to appreciate how far we’ve come, and what we’ve achieved, no matter how big or small. And it also shows how easy it is to get a little lost along the way and forget those dreams we once had, that were so important to us once upon a time. Before life and ‘stuff’ happened. And possibly rammed all those dreams and goals out of the way or, even worse, obliterated them into a thousand tiny pieces.
I guess that’s what happened a little with my writing over the years, particularly the last two. Life and stuff has knocked it off course a bit. Had I have had a better plan, would it have been easier to stay on track with my dreams? I’m not entirely sure but I do know it would have helped me re-route more quickly to my destination.
That’s how I’m celebrating ‘Evaluate your Life’ day, by taking stock and looking at how far I’ve come, and to formalise a plan to get back on track to where I want to be.
The End Goal
I started by looking at my end goal. Where I want to be with my writing in 5 years’ time. I chose 5 years because, when I published my first book in 2014, I had a goal to write and publish at least 10 books 10 years. One book a year. And 5 years on, with 5 more years to go, that goal still stands.
My end goal is also to be writing full time. To be able financially to give up full-time work and just write, and write, and write. Build up a community on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms. See more of the world, travel and write on the move. To live the dream… all in 5 years. Hey, I’m dreaming big!
So, what do I need to do?
5 years is not a huge amount of time, so I’ve got to work smartly. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many books I create if my writing isn’t good enough. I need to get better, to improve, to have something interesting to say, to give my readers what they want. Then I need to actually write, and not just talk about writing. And, I then need to sell, and have a marketing plan that works.
How will I get there?
For my craft to improve and grow, I’m going to learn and soak up everything I can. I will invest time in courses this next 12 months, attend more shows and conferences, get myself out there in the writing world. And I will read more. At the moment, it’s 10 minutes each night when I first get into bed. It would be longer, but the 5:30am alarm is already sounding in my head and I struggle to make the 10 minutes sometimes. And it’s always the same authors, the ones I absolutely love, but that are familiar and comfortable. My plan includes reading 2 books each month, and for those books to be very different to anything I’ve read before.
In terms of my original writing goal 5 years ago, I’m not too far off track in releasing the 10 books in 10 years. As it stands, I’ve published 4 books since 2014. 3 fiction and one non-fiction (written in my actual name). I should be 2 or 3 books further ahead.
To get to the 10 books by the end of 2023, I’ll need to start by releasing 2 books next year. My 4th novel in progress needs to be finished by December so that it is ready for release in April/May 2020. That means another needs to follow at the end of 2020. That’ll be 5 novels and one non-fiction completed as part of the 10 year plan, leaving 4 more outstanding.
To achieve that I’ll need to divide the four books into 3 years (2021, 2022 and 2023). My aim is that the three books are fiction, but it may be that one could be non-fiction.
What will help me achieve it?
At the moment, I juggle it with working full-time, and it’s tough to keep on track. I’ve tried dictating during my daily 2 hour car commute, but it just doesn’t work for me and only proves how much I swear out loud at crap drivers.
So, my plan breaks it down into a bite-size chunks of 2000 words each evening, with weekends to catch up on any that I’ve fallen short. It doesn’t always work out but, when it doesn’t, I have’10 books in 10 years’ goal in mind, and the chance of me writing full time.
How will I keep my ‘Evaluate your life’ goals going?
The plan is everything. For me it needs to be written/typed and reviewed often, to keep me on track. I did have a normal diary/planner I was using but it just didn’t have room for everything on there. Like goals, sales targets, specifics.
But then Claire Mitchell came along. If you don’t know Claire, she is the owner of ‘The Girls Mean Business’. If you’re a business owner, self-employed, or want to be, Claire is the woman for you. She’s ace. Anyway, Claire has designed a gorgeous 2020 planner which has everything I needed and more. Here’s a link – I’m using the PDF format as I like to work on it wherever I am and can’t always carry the physical planner with me. I’ve just started using it and can see how it’s helped me already. (It’s an affiliate link, so I do get commission if you buy after following the link, but that’s not the reason I’m promoting it. It really is brilliant). Check out her other pages whilst you’re there.
I’m pleased I’ve celebrated ‘Evaluate your Life’ day. It’s brought the focus I need. I now just need to work on all the other ‘bits’ of my life, like finances… actually, I think I’ll stop there.