2021. A new year. A rushing sense of opportunity to start over without the weight of whatever dragged you down in 2020 and let’s face it, it was a lot. The tickng over of the calender triggers soul searching and sparks renewed vigour in what the world has to offer.

My soul searching involved accepting the harsh reality that it wasn’t 2020 that held me back. It was myself.

My biggest problem is (cue mini violin, first world problems, oh poor you) that I have too many things on the go and I get overwhelmed. This leads to a kind of shut down where I do the minimum, then whittle away the rest of my day/week/year without achieving as much as I would like.

What’s missing? I ask myself.

In the past I was able to study, work, exercise, cook, socialise…

When I think back to what my days were like then I realise they were FULL. Everyday was jam-packed. I thrived on it.

What has changed? (I refuse to accept age as a remotely credible reason).

After having kids my life was subsumed by the needs of other people. What started as a necessity (keeping my own interests and ambitions limping alone while caring for small children) became a habit. My kids aren’t small anymore. They get up, make their own lunches, catch the bus to school and mostly manage their own lives with relative competence. They just don’t need me in the same labour-intensive way they used to.

One thing I know, is that things need to change. 2020 highlighted my willingness to be distracted. To take ‘self-care’ to a level that became ‘self-sabotage’ and that ambition and ideas are meaningless without consistent action.

What I need is accountability, deadlines, expectations and… outcomes. I’m a destination before journey kind of person. I need the tick. I need the sticker. I need the good report at the end of the year. I always have.

As I contemplate 2021 and the new projects I want to undertake, I have a few outcomes in mind:

  • Launch some new creative writing related initiatives – an online book club, more workshops
  • Get published in a range of outlets—short stories, middle-grade fiction, flash/micro-fiction
  • Earn money from writing—become a freelancer
  • Upskill—I’ve enrolled in an editing unit at Curtin
  • Write a YA novel

Along with these professional goals, there are the usual ‘lose weight’, ‘get fit’, ‘get kids through another year at school’. You know the ones.

Am I taking on too much? Will I be able to handle it? Will I be here again next year making the same promises to myself?

As I write this,  I’m keening for the me that could always fit in whatever worked needed to be done. The one who would study until late in the night and get up early to go mountain biking. I need to get out of maintenance mode and find that self who would fearlessly take on more than I could handle and nail it anyway.

I suffer from, of all things, an abundance of time (I did say cue tiny violin, right?). My strategy for overcoming my excess time wasting is to go old-school. Literally. I’m going to construct a timetable that segments my days into portioned parcels of precious time.

Things on the list?

  • Admin
  • Study
  • Editing
  • Writing
  • Social Media
  • Chasing paid work
  • Chasing publication opportunities
  • Sport
  • Music
  • Lunch… and so on.

I won’t be perfect but if I don’t follow it, I’ll have no one to blame.

There is prep work to be done but that’s what the summer holidays are for. I’m not stupid enough to think I can work to a full-time schedule with the kids in the house but I can lay the groundwork.

To succeed in an adult world, I plan to reduce myself to a high-school student. For better or worse I have chosen a life that is reliant on self-discipline and self-drive. Rewards and stickers come rarely (sometimes years apart) but it is still a life that is worthwhile chasing.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.