Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Last year I wrote a post about my goals and stuff, cleverly titled Goals and Stuff. Some years I meet my goals, some I don’t, but I like setting them anyway. If things work out well, I can be all “Hey! Look at me, making stuff happen WOOHOO!!!” But if I fail to accomplish things, I have created something to beat myself up over which is one of my favorite hobbies.

In 2014, I set out to do three things: finish the first draft of the memoir manuscript, lose 50 pounds, and empty my house of all nonessential items. I didn’t do any of them, but I’m not quite ready for self-flagellation. I am going to (you might want to sit down here and brace for the shock) cut myself some slack.

The manuscript: I have over 90,000 words and I would say, since I’m in a generous mood, I’m about 90% done with the draft. I’m not even slightly pretending that it doesn’t need tons of work still but most of the story is down. When I decided to really get serious about it last January, I had bits and pieces and a loose outline but no idea what I had in any measurable way. It’s not done like I’d wanted, but I feel like I’ve made so much progress and it’s not a wishy-washy “I want to write a book” type goal anymore.

Weight: Let’s just not, okay?

Empty the house: I had planned to focus on the attic and the basement. The attic is about 90% empty (seems to be a common number for me…). All that’s left is one piece of furniture I have to take apart to throw out (so lazy though), the comic book collection (which will probably stay there permanently), my wedding dress, and about half a dozen bins of pictures, keepsakes, and my mom’s stuff. Considering it was so full I could barely walk up there last year, this is a huge improvement. The basement has been emptied by about 50%. There is still stuff down there to donate or sell, keepsakes and Mom’s stuff to go through and various household items. I can’t empty it fully, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

So what’s on the horizon for this year? I’m keeping the 3 goals from last year but adding a few more areas of focus.

1. Finish the book. Not just the first draft but all the drafts.

2. I need to do something about my weight and health in general. I need coping strategies that don’t involve pizza. I need to exercise regularly.

3. Keep getting rid of stuff. Organize what’s left. Get rid of more stuff.

4. Get paid to write. I landed a few paying gigs in 2014, but this year I’d like to expand on that. It would be wonderful if I could write full time as opposed to finding another insurance job and I suspect that may not be something I do this year, but I want to get closer to it.

5. Read more books and watch more movies. Not a fancy goal, but one that will make me happy.

This year, more than anything else, I want to focus on the stuff that matters most to me. I want to stop killing time. At the risk of vague-blogging, I have goals much larger than what I could put into a year-in-review/resolutions post. You’ll have to take me at my word that I’m going to keep working on them. If every day is spent focusing on the big picture and not immediate gratification, it will be a successful year.

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog regularly. When you tell me that you enjoy my writing, when you encourage me to keep going, that you can’t wait to read the book or just that you liked this post or that one, it means so much. Writing feels like it happens in a vacuum sometimes and knowing that people are looking forward to hearing what I have to say is invaluable. Hopefully I won’t let you down in the coming year.

26 Responses to “Looking Back, Looking Ahead”

  1. I like your goals. A little lofty, a little realistic, and while they may not all be fulfilled at the end of 2015, I’ll bet you’ve touched or even massaged each one a bit.

    I think 90k words is wicked impressive. Especially considering you were working full-time during most of that. You are amazing!

  2. Rachel Bozek says:

    I LOL’d when you called yourself lazy. And you know I am not a big LOL-er. Great post.

  3. Nice goals. I do like starting the year with goals. Helps focus towards something. I’m planning on a goals post next week as I’m still away on holidays and have no access to a laptop.

  4. I love this! I love LOVE that you have written so much. I think that is a real accomplishment. :) Goals for the new year are hard but it is so important to set them, even if it is just to create intention! And wow about getting rid of stuff. That is huge.

    • michellelongo says:

      Creating intention <-- Exactly. If the goal is "work on the book" then that's so easy to say I did when maybe I just reread a portion or something small. But finish or write this many words today or whatever, I either do that or I don't. And saying I intend to do it makes it much more likely to happen. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Natalie DeYoung says:

    Your goals are totally doable, which is the best things goals can be. I am uber impressed with how much you wrote–that is truly making things happen. Doing what you can.
    I just love this so much.

  6. dowbiggin says:

    I completely and unapologetically LOVE this blog post. You’ve achieved great things this year. I’m one who needs to lose weight, exercise more, and just generally be healthier, so I LOLed at “Let’s just not, okay?” (And I AM a frequent LOLer.)

    90% is A- and A stands for awesome, in my book, so I think you can feel very accomplished for the memoir writing and stuff jettisoning. As for being paid to write, I have to say that I believe very firmly that this is something you should pursue wholeheartedly. You’re an excellent writer, and while I have ZERO clues about what it takes to write professionally, you get my vote.

    Just being self-aware is an accomplishment in itself. You’re not just going through motions. You have a plan of sorts. And that’s more than a lot of people in our generation can claim. So, go ON with your bad self.

    • michellelongo says:

      Regarding the weight thing: Not only did I not meet the goal, I actually went in the wrong direction and made things worse. Oops. It’s okay though. I’m going to keep trying. There isn’t really any other alternative!

      Thanks for the encouragement about the writing! I’m not entirely sure how to go about becoming a professional writer, but I can learn, so there’s that. It won’t happen overnight but hopefully I’ll look back at the end of the year and I’ll have done better in 2015 than 2014. That’s all I can ask.

  7. Jenny P says:

    90,000 words is just so many many words. Well done! And seriously, your goals are awesome and I always find it helps when you share them with the world too. It helps to have people rooting along with you. Happy new year and good luck!

    • michellelongo says:

      Accountability is huge for me. The last thing I want is someone asking me how something is going and having nothing to say. And this has happened to me often in the past. I’m hopeful it can stop happening!

  8. Stacie says:

    So much to love about this post! I want to read more too. My online time has been taking away from that too much. I need to figure out how to manage that.

    • michellelongo says:

      Reading feels like leisure time but really I need to read more to write better. I’m trying to frame it that way so I feel productive as I’m reading.

  9. Love this post, Michelle! Especially that part about instant gratification and the big picture. Oh and I can relate to the weight thing completely ☺

    Good luck for everything this year

    • michellelongo says:

      Thanks, Shailaja! I have no patience so the slowing down for the big picture is SO hard. It relates to writing, my weight, everything. Hard work pays off though, that much I know.

  10. katydidknot says:

    9/10ths of a book is a huge deal, especially if you have ANYTHING else going on in your life! The couple of times I’ve written something that substantial, I don’t remember anything else that happened during those months. It is no small accomplishment!

    I’m a little bit jealous, actually…

    • michellelongo says:

      Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the book isn’t done yet because of the other things, most of which weren’t optional. But when I think about where I am, I am pretty proud that I’ve come this far. It’s nice to sit with that a minute before thinking about how much more there is.

  11. 50peach says:

    WOW. Beat yourself up all you want (though I hope you don’t), but I say you’re f*ing badass. This, coming from someone who hasn’t yet moved past the wishy washy phase of her book. UGH. How did you do it??? I’m proud of you for working so diligently on your dreams, despite all odds, distractions and pizzas. You can do this, my friend. I wish I was there to be your walk/run buddy! In all, keep taking care of you and I know this year is going to be incredible.

    • michellelongo says:

      I can totally see you dragging me out of my house and making me exercise :)

      You can write your book! How did I do this? 5am wake ups and a lot of coffee. Set a goal of so many words/pages/whatevers per day/week/month and then attack it. I know you know how to attack goals so I know you can do it!

  12. I liked this…loved your attitude about losing weight because it so matches my own. LOL As far as writing a book or anything of that size…go you! I have a hard time just whipping out a simple story anymore let alone a book, but that’s me. Here’s hoping your 2015 is amazing!

  13. Sam Merel says:

    You are so awesome. That is all.

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