How I Choose Goals That Motivate Me
I have gone from throwing my energy into the wrong projects which resulted in and a dozen half started or non started goals to completed projects I’m proud of. The mistakes of the past have taught me to strive for less and to condense my efforts into the projects that have real meaning to me. I’m an author so my example goals are around writing but I have applied these principles to other areas of my life. For example I had a goal of owning a home with Sam. Last year I renovated a fixer upper while we lived with family. Getting that done was an important goal.
Choose my goals after I make a wish list.
Often, I would get to this time of year and put together a list of all the things I’d like to achieve. Then I’d feel so proud of having achieved a list of goals for the year. I was full of optimism and high energy but even though this felt good, It lacked practicality. My list wasn't a workable tool that would move me forward to short and long-term goals. A wish list is fine but it’s not goal setting. Goal setting required deeper level consideration.
Pair down my wish list.
Too many things on my list resulted in my energy being defrayed by the sheer number of differing projects. A few realistic goals worked much better than the sheet filled with what I thought I wanted. I published a book each year for the last two years. Instead of aiming for three a year and not doing any I realistically looked at my schedule and my actual writing routine to see what could be expected. This has resulted in my having two books published and another on the schedule for next year. Looking back, I realized my wish list also contained goals I thought I should achieve. Not things I really wanted to physically do. I had to get real with myself.
Choose goals that feed me.
When I put myself in the driver seat and imagined how I would achieved the goal, I checked back with myself. Did it seem to give me energy or make me feel drained? For me, enjoying or finding the process of achieving the goal satisfying is key to it being a real goal. If I can’t imagine myself performing the task then it's a 'should do goal'. I really should make a YouTube trailer, nope I can’t see it, no ideas come to me. It’s not going to happen. I don’t yet have sufficient motivation to do that. It might be there in the future but it’s not a priority now. Another goal for last year was enrolling in a synopsis workshop. I really want to be able to pitch to agents and editors more effectively. This goal was a real one. It happened because I knew it would make me feel empowered, so it feeds me but I was also motivated because it was actionable.
Make goals that have a clear action.
Having a best seller isn’t a goal. That’s a wish. Producing a well written story is within my power. An overall goal for me but I still need to document the planned steps I’ll take. Professional development is a great motivator to me. So I choose an aspect of writing to hone, an area I’d like to see improve and then look for a course or at the very least a book on the subject.
My goals for 2018.
If you're wondering, this year’s goals haven’t been set completely. I use January's new energy to help me with that. As I've said there's a book planned for this year It just needs some rewrites before a March release. I've enrolled in a branding workshop but there might be time for more PD and finishing a half written new work, now that I'm not renovating. There is the garden though (she grins). My goals will need to be reassessed as events take place during the year but mostly a clear achievable goal, will have steps I can take. It helps me to check back with my goal as I complete each step and see how far I've come. This helps renew the initial spark that got me going in the first place.
Best wishes for your goal setting and a happy, healthy and successful 2018.
See more about these books on my book page.
Why I chose to write a series about secrets.
The question of secrets within family is often used as the plot for books. For me I was more interested in how a lifelong secret can affect a person’s emotional development and what consequences this would have on their life. A stone in the pond ripple effect was my suspicion and it certainly turned out that way as I delved into how a secret affair by a mother impacted the lives of her three daughters.
‘The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover’ is the first book in the Baxter Sister series. It’s about the eldest sister Natalie. By the time she is of marriageable age, she doesn’t want a fiery relationship like her parents had. She chooses a cool calculating business acquaintance but his calm exterior is a front, his terrible temper has dire consequences. He dies in a car accident that almost takes Natalie’s life and she loses the baby she was carrying. Once she is physically healed she takes a job in Scotland organizing a fundraising ball to benefit orphans. But she accidentally has a once night stand with her a kind client before finding out who he is. She agrees to a secret affair for the month she’s living in his castle in Scotland while organizing the ball. If her parents weren’t the sort of people who kept secrets she wouldn’t be able to see having a secret affair as an option. The problem is falling in love leads to heartbreak because to secure the future of the orphans, her client, a Scottish lord must have an heir to inherit the trust. Natalie is unable to conceive again. Their secret affair becomes a secret love that can never be openly acknowledged.
In writing these stories I wanted to show the far reaching impact that a secret can have on the people close to the person keeping the secret. That having a secret might be something that is done to protect yourself and others but that the truth will find a way to surface and then everyone has to deal with the real situation when the false one that is hiding the truth is swept away.
‘The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby’ is the second in the series about the Baxter sisters. The youngest daughter, Katrina is really her mother’s lover’s baby girl. Although both parents knew they decided to keep it a secret and she was never told that the man she thought was her father wasn’t her biological parent. Although he wanted to raise her as his own he was never able to completely forget that she was living evidence that his wife had been unfaithful. Poor Katrina didn’t know why he couldn’t look at her properly or showed more affection to her sisters. She internalized the blame, thinking it was something wrong with who she was, and that made her struggle for success as a ballerina to win her father’s approval.
The secret about Katrina’s parentage was finally outed when her parents died in a car accident. Katrina was shocked but also deeply wounded because a bedrock truth in her life had been a lie. She had turned to her biological father, a man who had paid for her private school and ballet classes but was again rejected. He didn’t want his son to know he’d been unfaithful in his marriage. Even becoming a prima ballerina wasn’t enough to heal her self esteem, and she gave up on ever being a woman that any man would love. After all if her own Daddy didn’t love or want her, who will? This devastating impact of being the victim of a family secret creates even more serious consequences when she falls pregnant to a man she loves but can’t believe he would ever really love her.
The final story in the series is yet to be published. It’s about the middle sister, Ruby. She’s a loner with no friends. Artistic like her parents, she’s out of place in her private school with her dyed, bright red hair. Jarrod is a popular young man, being groomed to take over his father’s fashion business. He recognized her talent for designing fashion when he saw her sketch pad. He encouraged her and saw through her rebel disguise to the soul of an artist.
When Jarrod tells his father about Ruby, his father is horrified that his son is falling for the half sister of his illegitimate daughter. He actively discourages their relationship and refuses to help Ruby in her career. When Jarrod’s parents separate he is asked to stay with his Dad. He’s devastated about his family breaking up and wanting to support his father so he backs away from Ruby.
When Jarrod steps back from her, Ruby doesn’t understand but what can she do but shut down and keep away? She finishes high school still mad with Jarrod for having led her on and worse than that, she believed he was different.
Years later she is working for Jarrod’s family friend. Jarrod is running his father’s company since he passed away. When he hears that Ruby has been accused of stealing designs, he doesn’t believe it’s true. Jarrod knows she has talent and has been set up. He makes a plan to right wrongs of the past and present but getting Ruby on board proves much harder than he imagined.
‘The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover’, ‘The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby’ and ‘The Australian Billionaire’s Secret Marriage Deal’, completes the series about the Baxter sister’s secrets, yet I think there is so much to untangle when a secret comes to light that I'm also working on a new story about a hero and heroine with family secrets. The healing that comes from secrets being unearthed is an uplifting process so it’s very satisfying to write about characters’ struggling with this journey.
PS. I’m working on having Ruby’s story, 'The Australian Billionaire's Secret Marriage Deal', out in Spring 2018
2017 Christmas Decorating
As promised last week, I'm posting pictures of this year's Christmas decorating. I haven't finished but am happy to share what I've done so far in the family room and bedroom.
The traditional colors of red and green are a feature, but there is more focus on green and natural this year. I'm working on the theory that adding some natural touches to the decorations I have, and paring some of the glitzy gold and silver back a little, will bring a calmer vibration to my home.
You can see in the close up picture above, I haven't used my red ribbon from last year on the tree and I've kept the decorations lighter in color with touches of red. The use of blush pink or rose gold balls helps to soften the overall effect. I still have some clothes peg stars to make and add to this tree, also some burlap ribbon bows so I'll post an update when that's been done. I also post to Instagram so you can keep a look out there too.
The coffee table has a magazine tree that I made from folding the pages in at an angle. On the wall I have a wreath but there is still too much red, so I plan to switch the bows to burlap ones. Same as the ones I'd like to add to the tree. I also need something above the TV. Any suggestions?
In the bedroom I kept my neutral linen look bedspread and only added a cranberry throw and pillowcase covers, from Laura Ashley, this year. Normally I'd use the whole doona set. I've added green picks with berries and fruit to some faux plants on the bedside tables.
The reindeer pillow feature in the middle of the bed is there year round but needed something to tie it in with the theme, so I added a red bow to its antlers. Now I think he looks very festive but the cool blue/grey background ties the bed in with the grey feature wall.
There's still some craft and things to do in December and I plan to take my time and get as much entertainment from this time of year as I can. Come back to see how my wooden clothes peg stars turn out and I might have a surprise project to share also.
Over December I'll also be working on the third book in the Baxter Sister series. I'm hoping to have it ready for release next March.
Here are links below to the first two. Also I just want to mention that the Scottish Billionaire's Secret lover is set right before Christmas. The epilogue has a lovely Christmas day scene that can't fail to make you sigh with warm feelings. So if you like a Christmas read this is a story you'll enjoy.
Inspiration for Romance Stories
Inspiration is different for everyone, I imagine. It's the question I'm asked most often when I tell people I'm a writer. Lucky for me, I don't have any trouble answering them. I've been able to corral the plethora of things that inspire me into three categories. Travels, Real Life and Rescues and Fate Steps In. If you're interested in hearing about these, read on.
Travel and Holidays
I guess I've been a traveler since a very young age. All of us travel a massive orbit around the sun on this planet every year. That's a lot of miles or kilometers to clock up when you've just been born! No wonder we all hanker for a look at foreign places.
I've been fortunate to travel to distant lands and experience the richness of their culture. But long before that I did it through documentaries on TV and reading.
I guess that's why I like to use the escape of a foreign land or travels within my home country of Australia to help me craft a story that takes me away from my ordinary world and puts me into someone else's.
I set "A Wife for the Orange Farmer" in Mildura, a border country town situated on the grand Murray river. Its Orange Groves are watered by irrigation from that river and are the major produce for the area. During a caravan holiday at Mildura, I sat in the shade of a River Red Gum, rocking my baby daughter to sleep reading a Mills and Boon romance novel. So romance and Mildura were already a connection for me long before I was rescued by a real life hero who was an orange farmer.
Real Life and Rescues
No wonder when I was rescued by an Orange Grower during a thunderstorm at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show I vowed to create a story for him. Such a charming handsome man, he entertained me and my mother with his easy good nature as he held a golf umbrella over the three of us.
Another yet to be published story was inspired during a self drive holiday in England. I was out of my comfort zone and then got lost. I needed directions and, you guessed it, a handsome man in a shiny silver Mercedes guided me back to the freeway.
Fate Steps In
I like these kinds of stories, soul mates who take a whole story to work it out. What if that woman lost in the car wasn't me but a grieving widow and this man was here to guide her back to a real life full of love and family? A novel was born.
What if that Orange Farmer with his easy manners and caring nature was taking care of his grandma who had grown so frail she needed a Personal Care Attendant? In country towns they're not easy to come by but a woman who's lost everything might go somewhere like that to find community and belonging and ends up finding a family as well.
I've met so many interesting people and been so many places and have such a romantic heart that I can't help but put them all together to create a story that gives it all meaning. Inspiration is drawn from everything I've ever read seen or done. It all gets put into a big bag and I play lucky dip I suppose. I also like to let my subconscious help out with meditating for writing and letting the words flow without questioning them and see what comes out. Later I sift through what has been mined for the gems. The results, well you've got to be the judge of that. Me, I love doing it.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.