As the new year kicks off it’s a good time to take stock of the memories deeply engrained within your heart and memory. It’s so affirming to look back over the last 12 months and take an inventory of all the things that happened—the good and the not so good—and reflect on successes and lessons learned.
New Year’s resolutions often involve taking something away from your life. This year, I’m encouraging you to add something new instead. As well intentioned as they may be, fortunately New Year’s resolutions often end in disappointment. The trouble is, they’re often short-term, rely on willpower and lack a inspired solution focus.
Which is why I’m sharing my new year solutions (not resolutions) with you on my blog. I hope they spark an inspired change and encourage you to dream big.
Last year the new year (2016) passed in a dizzy drunken blur of bad music and false friends. This year I was with my lover (and best friend) sober in Fiji. It was magic. Dinner barefoot on a sandy beach beneath a kaleidoscope of fireworks. 2017 is my year of living magically – and beautifully.
If you’ve read, The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride you’ll know Fiji intimately. I began this book when I will holidaying there three Christmas’s ago. It was so blissful to return there. Fiji is my happy place. Have you been?
Albert Einstein once said, “‘If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects.’ I took his advice to heart last year – big time! Mostly I set aside more time to do what I loved.
I fell back in love with fiction. After spending much of my adult life in business roles and writing about careers—how to survive them, change them and thrive in them—I’ve become a ravenous reader of all things escapism. I love immersing myself in new worlds…especially if there is an element of history and/or the books are art-related in some way, like one of the books I read in 2016 – Jessie Burton’s, The Muse.
Inspired by my love of escapism I wrote two art-related romance novels in 2016, and indie published them under one of my new business lines, Blue Orchid Publishing. It has been heartening to receive wonderful feedback from readers, like one Amazon reviewer who posted a five-star review and said, “Beautiful. Resonated in my soul, gives me hope that I will meet my Prince one day and he will love me for who I am.” The two books I wrote are:
The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride and The Italian Billionaire’s Scandalous Marriage.
The awesome feedback I’ve received is particularly encouraging as, like many successful authors, I had to ensure rejection – and worse the silent treatment from a New York agent who asked me to send her my books and then never got back to me. On the upside this experience lead me to create a new business and new brand – something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I read a book about New Zealand romance writers over ten years ago, The Passionate Pen.
It’s been my absolute joy to have heard from so many people who have told me how much my stories resonated with them and who have posted feedback on Amazon. I love hearing from you.
Last year, as a result of my books going out into the world, I was contacted by many people in American, Europe, Australia and Asia and asked to share my experiences on podcasts, and in their books, including (appropriately) Write Your Book at Fifty by Jeanette Martin. Yesterday I received an email with another request to share my story in a new book which will be released later this year, called Thrive: Finding Space to Live a Creative Life. As the author, says, “It’s about connecting with your creativity (or a neglected passion), creating the time/space/lifestyle to pursue your creativity, and building habits to live a more creative life. I wrote it because for so long, I was stuck on the hamster wheel of being a workaholic and completely ignoring my creative side. I hope to help others who may also be unhappy,” the author wrote to me.
Amazingly the theme of this book sums up last year (and my intention for those that follow) perfectly. To live and work with passion, creativity and joy you need to make space.
So anyhow’s onto my new year’s solutions:
- I will focus and eliminate all distractions when I write. And I mean ALL – in 30 minute cycles, using timers to keep me honest. Right now my fav tool is focusatwill.com. The developers says this will work magic because it’s “Scientifically optimized music to help you focus.”I’m a big fan of this tool …I love the music and loving what it’s doing for my productivity. It is absolutely incredible how much you can achieve in 30 minute bursts when you are focused.
- I will simply and declutter my life – this includes my work area and desk and laptop (eliminating the unnecessary) – this will help me better achieve the above. This is going to be tough as I tend to be a ‘collector’ but I’m going to try.
- I will experiment with my commitment to be alcohol-free for the WHOLE year. And I mean the whole year. And I will share what I learned and what really works, in my new book, “Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.” Alcohol addiction remains a hidden and stigmatic problem marked by denial and fear. There are millions suffering alone, afraid to ask the question, am I drinking too much? Don’t let this be you. Take the ready to quit quiz https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5K8KSN7
- I will engage in three passion projects for the year – writing wise. As above for non-fiction, two art-related romance novels, and a historical novel set in Renaissance Italy. One of these is particularly significant as it is the book I never thought I could write. More about this in later newsletters! To achieve this I am committing to being more ‘anti-social.’ Not drinking will help this along as the majority of times I socialised last year involved alcohol.Related to this I’m rethinking my relationship to social media. I truly am cutting back here, including taking the app off my Iphone so i don’t do quick check ins. Being away on holiday off the grid was a great digital detox one I am to keep in check.
- Health is a priority. Alcohol is gone, coffee too, sugar – on the way out. In is green and clean and raw. Let’s see how I go. Meditation needs to be more regular for sure. I’ve been a meditator for over 20 years but sometimes I forget to prioritise it.
- I will trust and listen to my higher self more—especially in matters related to writing.
- I will love numbers more. Last year and in the six or so months before I’ve switched off from all things numerical – accounting and finance wise. It’s true, out of sight, really does mean out of mind. Not good escapism at all! This year I’m dedicated to earning more and spending less, and that means ensuring that every dollar I spend is an investment in fast-tracking my financial success as I continue to reinvent my career as a creative woman.
- Learn from the experts. This year I’m defragging from email overload and tapping into experts only. One of the few things I’m doing is taking a fiction writing class with James Patterson. Exciting!! As of January 2016, James has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, he also writes children’s, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction and is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children’s bestsellers lists. He’s a pro for sure! I’ve learned so much already.I’m also going to consult screenwriting guru Micheal Hague again—especially for my big (secret) project which has already been suggested by a top literary agent could become a movie! I know paying for these services will fast-track my success and feed my goal to be the best writer I can. I consulted with him when writing one of my romance novels (The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride) and the feedback was invaluable.
- I’m going to be incredible efficient with my time—minimising distractions and doing less to achieve more. A big change will be outlining before writing and using story-telling techniques when writing future blogs and newsletters to enhance my craft.
- I’m going to be driven by passion and ensure I keep my passion alive—focusing and eliminating distractions and maintaining balance will be key. Passion will carry me through the tough times and affirm me during the good times. I know, I know—I’m the passion queen. But even the most passionate people can get distracted and burn out.
- I’m going to get up earlier at 5am and ‘just do it!” This is going to be challenging, but I’m determined to make this a joyful ritual. My writing rituals will include five 9 hour days per week dedicated to fiction, one to non-fiction and marketing/business activities. Day seven will be a passion day – whatever I decide that will be. I love everything I do – so that will be easy. Included in this is balance – relationship, health and spiritually wise. Meditation, romance, chilling will all factor in—including a reward trip to Japan with my lover in September to defrag and retop up our inspiration well.
A few quotes that are inspiring me this year:
Do NOT sit there like ‘Oh I don’t feel like it today. I don’t feel like it tomorrow.’ Feel like it! Do it! Force yourself. —James Patterson
“Know what you want and try to go beyond your own explanations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s million: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.” ~ Paulo Coehlo, in his book “The Spy.”
“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all generations of the world.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
There—I’ve declared my intent for this year. Writing it down and sharing it with you makes it feel more concrete and me more accountable. It remains to be seen whether I achieve any of these, but I’m going to give them my best shot. Meanwhile I wish you a very Happy New Year. May it be beautiful, prosperous, interesting, productive and joyful