Hi, friends. Welcome to 2021! With a hard year behind us and a hopeful, but likely challenging, year ahead, let’s all take a moment to breathe and appreciate where we are in this moment.

I know we’re all feeling relieved that 2020 is over but also worried about this new year and the challenges of the pandemic. I also know many of you had big plans for 2020–I certainly did–that went down the drain.

Instead of focusing just on big goals or milestones, let’s break down our experiences and expectations in a different way.

Disclaimer: Journaling Not Necessary

The title of this post may be about journaling, but you can ponder these questions in whatever medium helps you. Maybe that is a journal. Maybe it’s a random Google Doc. Maybe it’s a conversation you have with a friend. We all work differently, so don’t feel like you have to break out a notebook for this exercise.

#1: What am I grateful for that happened in 2020?

You can think big, but also think about the small things.

Did you discover a new song that fits well with your WIP playlist? You can be grateful for that!

Did you connect with a critique partner who you really get along with and share similar goals with?

Did you develop a new routine while working from home? Did you find a cool face mask that you like wearing when you run errands?

My point is that you can be grateful for a wide spectrum of things. In an ongoing traumatic event like a pandemic, it’s helpful to find whatever joy we can.

#2: What lessons did I (re)learn in 2020?

If there’s one thing I experienced in 2020, it was relearning some lessons I was quick to forget during the prolonged stress of the pandemic.

One example? I relearned that even the best laid plans might be out of my control. Right at the start of the pandemic, my wedding was postponed and my honeymoon cancelled. Was it the right choice? Absolutely–we’re all in this together to be safe and healthy. Was it hard to accept? For sure!

Follow-up: How can I take these lessons into 2021 to make the necessary tweaks/changes to my writing, my business, etc.?

I’m taking that lesson into 2021 with eyes wide open. Plans and goals are helpful and necessary, but sometimes things just happen. And that’s okay.

If it’s helpful to you, you might write down a list of these lessons even if you’re not journaling these prompts. Reminders can be helpful.

#3: What’s one thing I can pursue in 2021 to create happiness in my life?

Speaking of things not being in our control, what can you do to create some happy pockets in your day or week?

I had so much fun doing writing sprints during the NaNo Or Not challenge I hosted on Instagram in November. While I don’t have time for that every week, writing sprints with friends is on my list.

But I also enjoy a daily walk where I listen to an audiobook, and I enjoy the process of crafting my morning latte.

If you can identify more than one thing, great! But even just one thing you can do for yourself is a major win.

#4: What tools and skills helped you through 2020?

Maybe it’s something you learned in therapy last year. Maybe it’s literally a writing tool (like Scrivener) that you found super helpful for your writing process. Maybe a piece of writing advice really clicked and you now have a skill that’s boosted your writing.

Follow-up: How can you draw on those things in 2021 for continued support, growth, and success?

Think about what really helped you last year. How does that thing fit in with your vision of the new year? How can you make sure you incorporate it as appropriate/necessary?

I personally like to write down little notes to myself where I know I’ll see them. If it’s a program or web app, I usually favorite it in my web browser as a reminder. Set your future self up for success by jotting down your favorite resources.

#5: What’s one thing I want to work toward in 2021?

I know, I just said plans ca be out of our control. But that doesn’t mean we stop taking steps forward!

Follow-up: What are three small steps you can take toward that goal this year?

Big goals can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. That’s totally normal and something many of us experience. Instead, thing about what small actions can move that needle forward.

If your Big Goal is to self-publish your first novel, for example, some action steps might include:

If those still seem too big, you can break it down further:

  • Self-edit your manuscript in three phases:
    • Story edits
    • Language edits
    • Proofreading
  • Work with a critique partner might become:
    • Identify three potential CPs and reach out to them
  • Read blog posts about self-publishing might become:
    • Read one article each week for two months
  • Work with a professional editor might become:
    • Identify three potential editors you’d like to learn more about
    • Hire one for an extended sample edit or an Ignite Your Novel session

Whatever your goal may be, keep breaking down your action steps until they feel doable! This is a great way to make the overwhelming feel possible.

One more thing…

I know we aren’t out of the woods yet, but I’m wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe 2021. And, of course, happy writing!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, leave a comment on this post, or connect with me on Instagram.

If you want more writing tips, let’s connect on Instagram.