At the beginning of 2018 my big goals were:
- lose weight/get healthy
- write a book
- get a job with less teaching
Even though I didn’t write them down anywhere, I know these were my goals because EVERY year these are ALWAYS my goals.
So, how did I go? Let’s just say:
I smashed it.
Somehow this year everything aligned. Aligned in so much aligning that I kept smashing it beyond the ordinary smashing that…you get the picture.
I’m not writing this to brag or gloat or be anything other than proud of what I achieved this year. Indulge me in this rather uncharacteristic moment.
Lose weight/get healthy
This is kind of personal so I’m not going to go into detail but just imagine a pretty impressive before/after. A life-changing before/after. I’ve changed a lot about how I eat and move because I had to and it has paid off. I learnt a lot more about nutrition (most of it in the last three months it seems) and how to put food together for optimal results – something I never thought I’d be interested in. I did have help. It was in no way easy but this year it was achievable rather than impossible and that was the difference. I am pretty happy to talk about all this but not that keen on committing it to writing on the Internets! Ask me, if you want to know more :).
Write a book
Tick! I have a completed manuscript of an historical fiction novel. In the end I forced it out in about 10 weeks of 1000 words a day, every day. You can read more about it here, if you haven’t already.
So that is a big achievement all on its own. But then I entered the manuscript into the Emerging Writers Program through FAWWA and made it onto the shortlist and then onto the finalists list so I won two years of workshops and, most excitingly, a two-year mentorship with an established WA author to get my MS ready for publication. This is only new news so I’m still sorting through what this actually means and having a mini crisis about what redrafting/second drafting/editing even is (I mean, is it just writing it again? how much do I change? what if I change something that was good the way it was?). But now I have a mentor to ask these things of! Yay!
Plus, in our initial conversation we talked about the necessity of publication, of that being the point of the program and for the first time I felt like maybe this life-long goal could be possible rather than a nebulous pie-in-the-sky dream. I’m trying not to think too carefully about it lest I jinx it in some way, or something…
Get a job with less teaching
I kinda wish I’d been a little more specific when I asked the universe for this because, turns out the universe has a sense of humour. I’ve been a high school English teacher for almost a decade and a half. That’s five classes of English every year. That’s a lot of prep and a lot of marking (and a lot of wonderful and not so wonderful students). It is a routinely exhausting amount work. It is a tough job, but I do enjoy it a lot. I want to keep doing it but do it less. The thing about teaching is that if you work part time, you generally just spend the time not at work doing prep and marking but not being paid for it. I couldn’t see how I could teach less but still be paid enough and still enjoy my work…it seemed impossible.
From next year, though, I’m the head of the English department. This means I will only teach two classes instead of five but doesn’t really reduce my workload overall and certainly increases the level of responsibility I have. So, I got what I technically asked for but I’m not sure if the overall impact on my work-life-write balance will be different. We shall see, I guess! Still, it is an exciting opportunity, I have a great team of teachers to work with, wonderful support from above and I get to be part of some juicy educational initiatives that I’m really looking forward to. And I do still love my job. And I know what a big deal that is, having spent many years hating work.
Oh, and I also applied for and was accepted into an emerging women in leadership program next year too. So that’s pretty cool.
So here is the big question. What on earth do I aim for in 2019? I’ve had these three goals for YEARS, literally YEARS. I don’t even know how to begin to think about new goals. Do I just think about consolidating what I have (probably sensible after such a big year) or do I throw in something new? Do I make seemingly unachievable goals (for many, many years my three goals were unachievable) and then work at them for years until they pan out finally? Do I make achievable ones because, turns out, achieving goals is actually pretty damn cool!? Do I make very specific goals or broad goals? Do I make goals and then break them down into small steps? Do I just throw out the idea of goals altogether?(!!!)
The main piece of learning from 2018 has been that I am most successful when I’m highly organised. And that anything is achievable when consistency meets routine meets bloody-minded determination.
And, although I look back now and think: yes! tick! done!, it was actually a lot of day-in-day out hard work. So, besides being proud of what I’ve achieved, I’m also pretty tired. Lucky summer holidays are mostly reading by the pool 🙂