Every year, I spend the last week of December contemplating the year that has passed and planning the next one. I set goals and write them in my daily diary where they are in front of my eyes all the time.
This year I decided to go one step further and created the Author Business Plan to stay on track and don’t get distracted by other exciting things.
I started in the last week of December, as usual, but didn’t finish till the first week of January, and there was a reason for that.
Something happens when the clock strikes twelve on New Year Eve.
All that was current becomes past in a moment.
Your perspective changes.
The New Year’s energy brings several possibilities, and wisdom gained in the past year helps you avoid repeating the same mistakes.
A typical Author Business Plan has five components — Business Summary, Financial Goals, Products, Publishing, and Marketing Strategy.
My Author Business Plan has different components. They are not standard, rather than based on what matters to me at this stage of life. They may not apply to you. Feel free to choose your own components. I wholeheartedly recommend Joanne Penn’s book Author Business Plan, which I used as a model to draft mine.
Let’s not forget I am turning sixty this year. Some of the things that matter to me may not be a priority for you. But then some things are universal.
Let’s get into it.
From last year, instead of setting annual goals, I started setting a theme. I wrote an article about it – Don’t set goals, set a theme instead. I urge you to read it. I promise it is worth your time.
Where goals are rigid, limiting, and unforgiving, themes are fluid, merciful, and open up new opportunities.
With a goal, the question is, have you achieved it or not? Whereas with a theme, every action you do, you need to ask: Is this aligned with my theme?
Goal setting leaves you miserable. If you don’t achieve them, you beat yourself up, and if you do achieve them, you set another one as soon as possible.
On the other hand, themes give you achievable, meaningful daily standards you can live up to. They reduce the pressure goals create.
A goal shuts out opportunities for current fulfillment in favor of a distant payday. A theme looks for opportunities in the present.
Last year my theme was FOCUS.
I focused on learning various skills and on whatever things I was doing. The theme kept my wandering nature in check.
This year my theme is CREATE.
I will enjoy the process of creation by using the skills I learned last year.
A guiding principle is an overarching principle that helps you decide what to do and what not to do?
Pick a phrase or a theme and say like, ‘At the end of my life, what do I want my actions from today to have contributed to?’
For me, that statement is, “Make sure my creativity injects hope in this world.”
The Bare Minimum
I have always been an overachiever. I will set up so many goals, so many projects, and so many endeavors that it would become physically impossible for me to accomplish them all. Then I will beat myself up for not achieving those.
On top of that, I love spontaneity in my day. I get easily inspired and want to act on new ideas as soon as they appear. New ideas have certain energy associated with them, and if you don’t act on them immediately, they go flat like a bubble. At this stage in my life (I will be turning sixty soon), I want to follow whim rather than discipline.
This year, I will identify the bare minimum things I want to achieve and leave the rest of the time for spontaneity.
These bare minimum things are:
- Finish my novel.
- Publish six ebooks (already in draft)
- Write 3–5 articles a week
- Continue once a week newsletter A Whimsical Writer.
- Draw 4–5 sketches a week
Three of these goals are weekly, one bi-monthly, and one annual. I will be able to achieve these easily. The rest of my time is for me to do whatever I please.
I might run a webinar course, start a podcast and post on social media every day for 90 days, or start doing urban sketching. These things can come and go. I will be happy if I could achieve the five bare minimum things I have identified.
In 2020 I ignored my health. I stopped going to the gym when lockdown started and didn’t start properly even when gyms opened mid-year (we have been lucky here in Canberra). I ate mindlessly and put on weight. To tell the truth, I ignored health for writing. I was so consumed with following my writing goals that I didn’t make time for exercise.
This year, heath is going to come first. I am back to walking 3–4 times a week, doing weights 2–3 times a week, core training 1–2 times a week, and yoga class once a week.
I have joined WW to be accountable for my weight and investigate intermittent fasting to control my eating.
Not being able to travel led to non-stop working in 2020. I took no breaks other than a month off in February. This impacted my sanity and perspective. This year I have blocked two weeks each quarter. Even if we couldn’t travel, I will take time off to do nothing. And if travel became possible, I intend to take longer breaks in the second half of the year.
This is how the overall plan looks like:
I am sharing it here for two reason, one to keep myself accountable to my readers and two to give you a template to write your plan if you haven’t got one.
May you have a productive and safe 2021!