A Tired Older Woman Plans For Success

A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn

Also available in print and for NOOK!

Recently I came across a newly coined word – Hallothankmas.  You may have heard of it.

I have no idea who came up with this term for the madness that engulfs us from the weeks leading up to Halloween and culminates on Christmas Day, but the idea expressed started my mental wheels spinning.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE Thanksgiving and Christmas.  To me they represent times filled with family, domesticity and spiritual meaning.

I cherish the traditions, enjoy the festivities and embrace the messages of thankfulness, love and giving.  I sing carols with gusto, cross time zones to celebrate with family and eat too many treats.  I celebrate past memories, create new traditions with friends and remember those who are no longer with me.  I enjoy every minute of it.

And yet…

When Silent Night has been sung at the Christmas Eve service, when the wrapping paper has been torn from the gifts, when the last bite of Yorkshire pudding has been consumed, I never feel sad.  Blessed – always, grateful – certainly, but satisfied.  The new year is now calling to me, demanding my attention and commitment.

I will finish the twelve days of Christmas portion of my Advent devotional.  I will sip coffee from a Santa Claus mug until December 31st.  I will reread the personal messages hidden behind the lovely snow scenes on my holiday cards, but my mind will be churning.

The coming of a new year represents a golden opportunity, and after all of the festivities, I find that I crave quiet.  For me, the weeks before and after New Year’s Eve represent a period of serious reflection and planning.  This is when my goals for the coming months will be set.

Step One – locate a fresh legal pad and a new pen.  Even in this digital age, when I have my fingers on a keyboard almost 24/7, I want these determinations to have the permanence and accessibility that can still only come from paper.

Step Two – decide the categories that I wish to review.  Some that consistently make the list are:

Finances

Health

Career

Spiritual Growth

Relationships

Others that show up from time to time are:

Travel

Hobbies

Education

Reading List

Lifestyle Change

Retirement

You, of course, will have categories of your own.

Step Three – begin lists.  Now the real work begins, although I try not to be obsessive.  As I described in A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off!, it is important that the goals I eventually set for myself are reasonable.  I also believe in building in flexibility and opportunities for creativity, and I would never want to completely rule out the road not taken.

At the top of every other page of the legal pad, I write the name of a category until all of the ones for the year in question have found a home.  I want plenty of room for notations, and I have been known to allow as many as six pages per category, when I recognized that a particular year’s decisions might well be monumentally life changing.

A good example of an exceptionally intense planning session would be the year in which I decided to start the medical out-sourcing business that eventually spanned three states and supported my family for the better part of fifteen years.  On the other hand, flipping a five store retail chain one year was definitely taking advantage of an opportunity presented by a road not usually taken.

A decision I put off for too many years was the one to address my health and weight loss issues in a meaningful way, which I address more completely in A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off!.

And now that the prep work is behind me, I come to the all important Step Four.

Two additional items are required at this point – a pitcher of espresso and some sort of upscale chocolate.  Properly equipped, I take the phone off the hook and put on some soft music.  Then, after one last, quick glance at my list of categories, I sit quietly and clear my mind of all but my list.

Slowly, like Carl Sandburg’s Fog, ideas begin to present themselves on soft, padded feet.

Yes, this is the year to redo the Master Bathroom.  No, I do not want to buy a stair-stepper. Would this be the right year for a family cruise?

This is not a quick process.  I have been known to spend as many as eight hours planning my new year over a period of three days.  In years that have required few changes to keep me on the right path, I have taken as little as two hours to complete a thoughtful review.  I am not, however, obsessive about details.

I am searching for broad plans to achieve specific goals.  During the coming year, I will develop some categories further and switch gears on others.  I will attempt to do anything that furthers a goal and not to do something that stands in the way of achieving one.  Life will occasionally step in and take over.

The idea is not to constrict, but rather to inspire, and I am certainly not aiming to make myself miserable or to end up a failure.

Annie Acorn Publishing LLC is not my first or even my second successful business, and yet, I have never claimed to be anything like a genius.  I majored in History and English.  A six week typing class taken the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school comprises my entire business education.  What I am is a very successful planner.

On three separate occasions, serious money-making opportunities came my way – not because I was lucky, but because I paused and stepped back from the whirlwind and noise that is Life long enough to spot a potential for profit and then took the time to map out a common sense plan.

Yes, I worked hard – often harder than most, but I also worked smart.  I planned for the worst and hoped for the best.  I maintained my flexibility, and I wasn’t afraid to think outside of the box.  I was often called to account for living my life to the beat of a different drummer.  Looking back, though, I give most of the credit to my yearly reviews and well thought out lists that provided me with workable blueprints for success in areas that really mattered to me.

I’m sure that 90% of you readers made New Year’s resolutions, and most of you have already broken most, if not all, of them.  This is not about following the pack or keeping up with the Joneses, and it is never too late to get started or return to the right track.

Will all of your plans work out for you if you follow my example?  Certainly not!  Life happens, and none of us can control it.

Still, if you start a new year with no plan, it is quite possible that December will come back around, and you will have lived a full year with nothing to show for it.

2013 has given you a chance at a fresh start.  It represents a new opportunity.  Find a fresh legal pad or spiral notebook, and grab hold of a pen.  Get off by yourself with a bowl of something to munch and your beverage of choice.  Clear the decks, turn off the noise and focus your mind.  Make this YOUR year!

Best wishes!

Annie Acorn

Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available in print, at Amazon UK and Smashwords, and for SonyReader, Kobo, Diesel, ibookstore and NOOK!

Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn

Also available for NOOK!

 

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2 Responses to A Tired Older Woman Plans For Success

  1. Paul Fenlon says:

    Hi Annie, You are the opposit to me, nice lists, ready to tick off. Women make lists much more than men. It’s a great idea, but I prefere to be taken by the tide, this way that way, with a basic plan but not rigid. I can see the logic of lists, but thats where failure would lie, something not ticked, something not achieved. If I did have lists I may do much better, but the underlying fear would be ‘that one there’, I just can not do it. What I do love is how much time you are perpared to devote to planning. I also love your clarity of mind, you know where your going and you know (roughly) how your going to get there. Bedtime. Paul.
    Paul Fenlon recently posted..Footy Fool.My Profile

    • Annie says:

      Paul – I’m not sure that we’re so very different. Remember, I stay away from details. Perhaps, the lists are to force me to make a thoughtful choice when the road not taken beckons. I find it interesting, too, that you don’t see men as list makers. I’m already thinking of ways I can use that in a book – a man who is obsessive about lists and one becomes a clue or a man who loses an important list because he doesn’t value it. There are lots of possibilities there. Annie

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