You Have to Learn to Pace Yourself

I’ve been thinking a lot about pressure. To be more specific I’ve been thinking a lot about the pressure we put on ourselves.

January is over. The first month of 2021 is gone. Did anyone else feel like January was as long as this pandemic? No? Just me? Ok.

Let me ask you this then: Are you pleased with what you got done in January? Or do you feel like you could’ve done more?

If you’re thinking the latter then this post is for you. You are my people.

Like you, I didn’t get everything I wanted to get done in January. There were moments I had time reveal itself to me but I didn’t take it. Twelve days in, I started to resent myself for not taking the free time I had.

The instant a weight of self-loathing began pressing on my shoulders, I paused everything I was doing and gave myself a pep talk. I took out my journal and literally wrote, “Relax! It’s only the first month of the year.”

After that, I took a few deep breaths and decided to give myself the next day off. I read, I rewatched season 3 of Cobra Kai, and I updated my Spotify playlists. For the rest of the month, I allowed myself to get away with not doing something just because there was time to do it. 

And you know what, it was glorious.

I pride myself on being a productive person. I’m always writing something, plotting something, reorganizing something. Having my own business and working from home gives me the freedom to change my hours as I see fit. Though I usually stick to the same hours, it’s nice to know I have the flexibility to alter them if something comes up.   

I want to share this tweet from author and screenwriter, C. Robert Cargill:

He isn’t kidding. 

In January alone we saw a siege on the Capitol building, a second impeachment, and the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (Madam Vice President!!!). Basically, it was a month of roller-coaster emotions. People were scared, excited, hopeful, worried. I myself felt all of those plus some. My mind was so preoccupied with the state of the world, I barely had the creative energy to write.

If you — like me — didn’t get a lot done because you were trying to hold it together, it’s ok.

Personally, the majority of the writing I did during January was journal writing. My goal was to make sure my mental state was in check. The last thing I worried about was a deadline or finishing my plot outline. 

Now, if you were able to write or complete your January to-do list, way to go! Never be ashamed for working hard. Everyone reacts differently to historical moments. Whatever your reaction was to these January events, I’m here to tell you it’s normal.

February is a new month. The Age of Aquarius starts in February. It is a time of rebirth and transition. Let January be known as the month you dipped your toes in the water. February is the month you’ll jump in, swim forward, and never look back.

Let’s go!

If you don’t already I recommend following C. Robert Cargill on Twitter. He posts a lot of inspirational and relatable writing posts.

Fun fact: The title of this post comes from Billy Joel’s song “Pressure.” It’s a great tune that was sung by Jane Levy on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist in an absolutely hysterical scene. If you’re not watching that show, I highly recommend giving it a go. I’ve never laughed and cried so much.

How did your January go? Did you get everything done that you wanted to? Did you feel more stressed than usual? Comment below.

Setting 2021 Goals and Plans

Let’s be honest. This New Year’s Eve didn’t feel like the “wipe the slate clean” type of day it usually does. Because contrary to what people think, we’re not out of the woods yet in terms of the pandemic. 

We still need to be careful. Wear a mask. Social distance. Protect each other.

But 2021 can represent a fresh start in some ways. And despite the uncertainty, I created my annual list of goals and plans.

I don’t believe in resolutions. I believe in goal-setting. 

Is there a difference? To me there is. 

The reason I don’t like resolutions is the pressure it puts on us. We start out strong and then life gets in the way. We fall behind. We feel like failures and we resort to old habits because it’s easier. Negative self-talk begins. The vicious cycle continues year after year.

That’s no way to succeed. So I made the decision a few years ago to not set any New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I create a list of goals and work on them throughout the year.

What’s the difference between goals and resolutions?

Mindset for one.

The term resolution makes my stress levels rise. Goals don’t need to be completed in a month. I know they might take the whole year to finish, which is fine. 

When people create resolutions they want instant gratification. When they don’t get it, they quit. Turning resolutions into goals removes a lot of stress. You should also break them down into smaller goals.

For example, one of my goals this year is to publish at least 10 essays. This goal includes print and online publications. 10 for the year seemed like a good number. 

This larger goal is broken up into smaller tasks like:

  • Get a list of publications to submit to.
  • Generate a list of topics to write about.
  • Write for 30 minutes a day.

I’m a big believer in breaking larger goals down into smaller tasks. It always feels less daunting.

Some other goals for 2021 include:

  • Complete first draft of essay collection.
  • Draft screenplay.
  • Get 10-15 clients for my copywriting business.

Each goal is broken down into smaller tasks. I use Trello to keep track of them as well as update my progress. I also set a deadline for each task.

However you plan for the new year — whether you call them resolutions or not — remember to celebrate the little victories. 

Set realistic goals. Know your limits. Push them, but not to the point where you feel like a failure. Track your progress. Keep going even if you fall behind. 

Don’t let the term resolution frighten you away. Change your mindset. Write your goals down. Work on them a little each day. You got this! 

What are your goals/resolutions for 2021? Do you believe in resolutions? Have you found more success in making resolutions or setting goals?

10 Online Shops to Find the Perfect Bookish Gift

It’s never too early to start thinking about holiday gifts. And online shopping this year is predicted to be higher than any other year — thanks, COVID — so it’s time to start ordering now. 

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the bookish person in your life, or if you need to give people an idea of what to get you, I’ve gathered some sites that offer amazing items. I certainly wouldn’t mind getting some of this stuff.

Whether they’re a writer or an avid book reader, your bookish loved one will appreciate the thought you put into their present this year.

Here’s my top ten list of places to find the perfect gift for the writer or reader in your life.

  1. Scribbler
  1. Book of the Month
  1. Out of Print
  1. OwlCrate
  1. MyBookBox
  1. Frostbeard Studio
  1. Chick Lit Designs
  1. Storiarts
  1. Introverts Retreat
  1. Our Little Book Club

Happy shopping!

Your Right to Vote and Why You Should

I recently had an essay published on The Big Smoke. I talk about the education I received in school about politics and voting. More accurately, I talk about how horrible it was. I also talk about how I finally started taking politics seriously in my 30s. My voice could very well be responsible for the future state of this country. Why wouldn’t I use it?

I’m sure by now you’re probably sick of hearing about the election. Believe me, there are days when I don’t want to hear another thing about it. But it’s fair to say the reason this election is literally everywhere is because of its importance.

It’s fair to say the current administration does not have everyone’s best interests in mind. They want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act during a time when thousands of people are out of work due to a global pandemic. Do they have a replacement plan ready to go? No.

I understand administrations wanting to change things they don’t agree with but at least have a plan in place. They need to stop putting their personal vendettas first. The safety and concern of the American people should always lead to their decisions. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

I’m not here to get into a debate about administrations. Everyone has a right to vote for whatever person they believe will do the best job.

What I’m here to tell you is if you’re falling in the “I’m not sure I want to vote because I don’t like either candidate” hole, you need to vote.

Not voting just because you don’t like a candidate is not the answer. 

Believe me, I’m not thrilled with the choices. I’m still voting because not voting will make me feel like I didn’t give my voice a chance to be heard.

I vote because my vote is my voice and when I don’t vote I give up my power and the chance for change.

It’s our responsibility to teach younger generations that we’re not always going to have candidates we like on the ballot. But voting is still important because a non-vote can swing in the direction you don’t want to go. 

You’ve probably heard people say if you didn’t vote, you shouldn’t complain. I’m sorry to say I agree with that statement. If you want to see change, you have to use your voice. And our voices during an election are loudest on the ballot. I know there doesn’t seem to be a silver lining anytime soon, but if we don’t vote and steer our country in the right direction, there won’t be one for a really long time.

So please, get out there and vote. Vote early. Get involved. Make phone calls. Send letters. Text. Volunteer to work at the polls. Getting involved is one of the best ways to learn about the importance of elections. And if you’re still in school, don’t be afraid to ask your teacher harder questions. We won’t change the way we learn about politics unless we take the initiative to change it.