Monday, January 2, 2012

Personal Reflections on a Less Than Successful Year

From a writing standpoint, 2011 was not exactly my most productive year.  Which wouldn't be all that bad except it was supposed to be.  When I retired last December, I had great hopes and plans for 2011.  I was going to write - get the edits and re-writes done on Hunter's Way and start querying my little heart out.  I was going to get seriously into, if not finish, one of the other book projects I've got on hold.  I was going to expand my web site and my blog, take some on-line classes, go to a couple conferences, find some crit partners, and really launch my new full time career as writer.

It should have been easy.

After all, during the previous twenty years, I had built and maintained a computer network that included a half dozen servers; over a hundred workstations; dozens of assorted printers, copiers, scanners, and FAX machines; and multiple routers and switches connecting six buildings spread over three counties.  I also trained and supported all the people who used this network.  I know how to work, how to multitask, how to meet deadlines.  And now I have all the time in the world.

So what happened?

Basically, I failed to manage the change from external demands to internal ones.  At the old job, other people were counting on me.  If I didn't get something done and we developed computer problems, those people couldn't do their jobs.  Deadlines were reinforced by a group of impatient (desperate) faces waiting for that installation, upgrade, training, etc. External demands.  Customer driven.

And then there was just me.

Without those external demands and dealines, I spun my wheels, wasted time, wallowed in indecision, failed to balance tasks, and accomplished a fraction of what I had intended to do.  I've measured my goals and objectives for 2011 against what I actually got done and realize...

I pretty much wasted a year.

So here I am, looking at 2012 and trying to figure out how not to do the same thing all over again.  I've got goals and objectives for the new year - a planning device that worked for me in my old job - but not much faith in their effectiveness anymore.  

Any suggestions?  How do you keep yourself on task when there's no one counting on you but you?

Oh, I did manage to let other people down on one thing.  I apologize to anyone who planned on doing the January writing challenge I said I would have in place by the first of the year.  I'm afraid I let December get away from me completely.  I'm still going to try this, slightly delayed, and I'll let you know as soon as I have it ready.  Don't give up on me.  Maybe we can pick a new start date together.

And here's a real groaner to start the new year...

Groaner of the Day:  A frog goes into a bank, and hops up to the loan officer.

The loan officer says, "My name is John Paddywack. Can I help you?"

The frog says, "Yeah, I'd like to borrow some money."

The loan officer finds this a little odd, but gets out a form. He says, "Okay, what's your name?"

The frog says, "Kermit Jagger."

The loan officer says, "Really? Any relation to Mick Jagger?"

The frog says, "Yeah, he's my dad."

The loan officer says, "Okay. Ummm...do you have any collateral?"

The frog hands the loan officer a pink ceramic elephant and says, "Will this do?"

The loan officer says, "Hmmm...I'm not sure. Let me go check with the bank manager."

The frog says, "Oh, tell him I said hi. He knows me."

The loan officer goes back to the manager and says, "Excuse me, but there's this frog out there named Kermit Jagger who wants to borrow some money. All he has for collateral is this pink elephant thing, I'm not ever sure what it is."

The manager says, "It's a knick-knack, Paddywack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone."

32 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

How? By telling the whole world what you intend to do, and then you'll be accountable for accomplishing it!

Stephen Tremp said...

Year One is always a trying year as you work out the kinks. "Just Keep Swimming" as Dora the fish from Nemo would say. Better things await you in 2012!

Laura Marcella said...

Hahaha, I like that joke! That's a great one.

I think you're on the right track since you identified how you didn't spend last year the way you wanted to! Though I also think it's okay to "waste" time. People need a break, especially women because we run ourselves ragged taking care of every one else's needs. This year take care of your own! Make a list of things you want to change from last year and things you want to accomplish. I make daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. It's good for me to have little steps to climb to the top!

Good luck, have fun, and happy new year!!

Maria Zannini said...

You didn't waste the year. You socialized with friends, supported your family when they needed you and explored a new world of not working for da man.

This happens to everyone when they retire. It's a whole new world. I'm busier now than I ever was when I worked in corporate America.

The only advice I can give you is to learn to say no more often, especially to time-sucks. That much is totally under your control.

Lydia Kang said...

Yes, but you've maintained a wonderful blog for a year that made people laugh. Doesn't that count?

I do badly with internal deadlines as well, but I set them anyway and get guilty when I don't live up to them. Hard and fast goals (like finish first draft in x days) usually helps. Write it down on a post it note and keep it visible where you write and blog. Make a timetable of how many words or chapters a week. Make it more concrete by making it visible on your calendar. That helps me!

Also, you can make your internal goal an external one. Tell someone. Have them email you or bug you about it (i believe it is called nagging). That helps too. :)

LD Masterson said...

Alex - Well, I did post my year's goals last January but I guess I need something more immediate to hold my feet to the fire.

LD Masterson said...

Thanks, Stephen. I liked the Dora reference (loved that character). I'll chaulk 2011 up to a practice year and get it right in 2012.

LD Masterson said...

Laura - I'm uch better at identifying my problems than correcting them, but hopefully I can get back on track. Thanks for the good wishes.

LD Masterson said...

Maria - Okay, not a total waste. I'm enjoying some excellent new friends on line friends. *wave* But the transition from structured job to on my own has been a little trickier than I thought. I need to follow your lead.

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - Thanks for the blog compliment. I think you're right. Crit partners are great but I also need nag partners.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That was a groaner!

I didn't accomplish a lot last year, either. Some areas I did move forward, which means I need to reevaluate the areas that were stagnant.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

when i start slacking off, i try to read blog posts and success stories of other bloggers/writers who are ahead of me in their journey. This usually gets me all fired up because i want to be where they are, and then i can tell myself that the only way i'll get there is if i keep at it, keep writing.
Jealousy is a very effective motivating tool for me.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The first year was your "tuition" in discovering what NOT to do. Now, you write every day -- something, anything -- on your novel. Carry a notebook to scribble down bits of dialogue or plot twists that occur to you when you are out and about.

I followed you over from Alex's blog. Come check out my blog. It's not half bad. Loved your "groaner" by the way, Roland

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Big groaner for sure. Maybe you should set yourself short goals, like by the week or word count. Put it right in front of your eyes.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

LOL That's why I published my 2012 List and posted it on the sidebar. Now I'm accountable to all the bloggers I know and some that I don't.

That's the best Groaner! I laughed out loud.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

LOL That's why I published my 2012 List and posted it on the sidebar. Now I'm accountable to all the bloggers I know and some that I don't.

That's the best Groaner! I laughed out loud.

Mason Canyon said...

Never say you wasted a year. You contributed to so many in so many ways. If nothing else, your groaners helped brighten some cloudy days. Today's was cute. Happy New Year.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

TC said...

I would say that you should put yourself first for X hours per week. "Blocked out scheduled unchangeable intractable 100 percent locked away do not bug me" time! You lock yourself in your new office and you work.
All of the so-called emergencies ask yourself, "would I have left my job as IT director to do this?" If no, then proceed accordingly!
A lot of pro writers say that booking the same time every day increases creativity -- your brain kind of habituates to that being writing time.
And of course you will book plenty of time for disruptions and fun ... these grandkids need you and vice versa ...but on your terms around a mutually agreeable framework!
Decide how much time you want to spend each week based on your goals for 2012, get out the old planner and color it in. Done!
Easier said than done? Of course ...
I bought a book on time management 5 years ago but have not had time to read it!

LD Masterson said...

Diane - Nice to know I'm not alone.

LD Masterson said...

Sarah - Jealousy, huh? Haven't tried that one. Thanks for the tip.

LD Masterson said...

Roland - Welcome. Thanks for joining my followers. I've hopped over to your blog nad returned the favor.

LD Masterson said...

Susan - Sorry about the groaner. I couldn't help myself.

LD Masterson said...

Mary - Maybe I should try that. If I fall behind, will you promise to nag me?

LD Masterson said...

Mason - Thanks. I probably should have said I wasted a year of writing opportunities. There were a few other things I did get done. And I do like giving people a good chuckle (or even a groan).

LD Masterson said...

TC - To be pefectly honest, I was my own worst distraction. But maybe that 'same time each day' idea would be good for me. I think the lack of structure doesn't work well after all these years. Thanks for the thought.

Sarah Pearson said...

This is me in a nutshell. I cannot keep to my own deadlines. I'm really trying, but it's hard.

LD Masterson said...

Sarah - If I find the secret, I'll let you know.

Cate Masters said...

Only one secret - sit at your computer and write. NaNoWriMo's great external pressure, but get in the habit of applying that same pressure internally and you'll do great. :)

LD Masterson said...

Cate - Yup, that's the habit I need to develop. Wish me luck.

jan said...

We have alot in common. I retired from the practice of medicine just to pursue my writing dream. Alas, I, too, am as yet unpublished. But you might like to check my blog, http://www.abeginneragain.blogspot.com, especially the early posts when I was just getting started.
For me, the worst day writing is still better than the best day in the office. Don't get me started...

jan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LD Masterson said...

Jan - Thanks for coming by. I did visit your blog and became a Follower. Hope you'll stop by often. We "retired" folks have to stick together.