Let’s Talk with Cheryl Hollon

Happy New Year!
by Cheryl Hollon

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Nope. Not me. None of those well-intentioned wishes ever made it past February anyway. It turned out that they were also the same over and over again. Every. Single. Year. I was setting myself up for failure and feeling wretched. Not good.

What I do now is pick one single aspect of my life to work on for the entire year. Not every day, mind you, but I chip away at this one goal for the whole year. This gives me the flexibility to tackle it as I wish – however that works out best – for me. This method has proved to be a thousand times better than those impossible resolutions.

I started this about six years ago when I was trying to get an agent and struggling to write while working full time. Getting to the ONE thing that might help me, I came up with WRITE EVERYDAY. That’s it. No word count targets. No totaling up time spent. Nothing else but simply to write every single day. Simple. The result was either yes or no. The real result is that I got an agent and a publishing contract after that year’s goal was achieved.

Another year’s goal was BE KIND. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Not if you have a quick retort to almost any remark. That automatic quip might not be particularly kind. I wanted to fix that. I reminded myself in e-mails, conversations, and especially in the middle of family drama to BE KIND. I got better at being kind, and I’m a more thoughtful person because of that.

Last year’s goal was to work on FOCUS. I am easily distracted (SQUIRREL!) and can start more than a dozen tasks without making much progress on any of them. By limiting my focus on what REALLY had to be done – in good time – I achieved more with less stress. I limited the important items on my daily To Do List to five items. If I finished them, I could add a few more, but I started to work ahead of deadlines instead of always being in last-minute mode.

I also invested in a better work environment by renting a space at a nearby co-work facility. I was able to focus and complete my five tasks in HALF the time it was taking me in my home office. Wow! What a great goal that one was for me. Really feel good about that one.

This year I’m going to work on FITNESS. Yep, I’m a keyboard junkie and can spend hours, days and weeks tapping away at the stories that are running around in my brain. Mind you, I’m not horribly out of shape, I mean, I walk several miles a day and attend yoga class with a friend. But, honestly, I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without sounding like a steam locomotive. So, I’m going to work on that for 2020.

What personal quality would you improve if you could only choose one?

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Comments

  1. Wendy Dingwall says

    I can really relate to the squirrel year. It was a struggle, but focusing last year on freeing up my time, (you know what I mean,) has allowed me to get back to focusing this year on writing. I have worked on the being kind aspect in years past for the same reason. LOL.

    Your decision to focus on one thing a year has led you to become a role model for all authors! Congrats on all your recent successes and those I know you’ll attain in the new year!

  2. I’ve given up on resolutions, too. But, I do try to learn or do one major or useful new thing each year. It might not always start in January but it will happen eventually. End of 2019 was “learn to play the ukulele”. Definitely for 2020 it’s “get better playing the ukulele”. 🙂

    • Cheryl Hollon says

      That’s lovely. I inherited my dad’s mandolin. It’s a beauty and I love the slim neck. Okay, I’ll learn to play it this year.

  3. maggietoussaint says

    Focus and Be Kind are top priorities for me. It is easy to get flustered and spin my wheels. Likewise, it’s easy to be sharp when you’re very busy. I think I’ll follow in your footsteps with those ideals.

    • It’s wonderful to be in that busy mode. I also feel energized but too much of either means I have to recharge before the next onslaught. Naps work pretty well. 😴

  4. Those are all good goals. I need to work on paying more attention to family members. I get lost in my literary world and forget there’s another one out there that’s more important. We can easily lose sight of our priorities in this business.

    • I hear you, Nancy. We all live within a five mile radius and if we’re not paying attention, weeks will go by without a visit or even a text. I’m trying, too.

  5. Lois, that’s a tough one. I finally put a YETI water bottle next to my keyboard a mere three inches on the left side. Then I worked on taking a sip every time I paused in my typing while thinking up the perfect word. You know that we all do that, right? That silly trick has boosted the amount of water I get through each day. *takes a sip* I don’t even notice it now. BONUS: I also get up more frequently. 🙂

  6. authorlois says

    You know that old saying about how you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink? I’m trying to work on not dragging those stubborn “horses” to the watering hole, no matter how dehydrated they really are, whether they recognize it or not.