Having goals gives you a focus
The UK lockdown began on my 55th birthday – what a way to celebrate… At first, I found it a bit of a novelty to have the rest of my family at home, but I realised pretty quickly that I would need to use goals to motivate myself if I was to get any work done. Thankfully, I had the final edits of my latest book, Starting Over at the Vineyard in Alsace, to work through and send off to my editor and proofreader. Those deadlines are actually a lifesaver if you’re a full-time author. Without them, I might not have got so much done. But I gave myself those deadline goals, knowing that they would motivate me, and I published my book on 14 July, 2020.
Establishing a routine
As an indie author, I’m very familiar with self-discipline anyway. After reading some good advice from marketing guru, Nicholas Erik, I have always aimed to spend one hour a day writing or editing, one hour a day on marketing, and one hour a day reading non-fiction books associated with my writing. I also work part-time as a freelance proofreader and self-publishing consultant, so I factor in at least one hour’s freelance work every day as well. I’m usually doing some kind of training associated with my writing or other skills, so that adds another hour. And so you can see, I have pretty full days, and that’s what gives my day structure.
The benefit of daily exercise
However, as you’ll know, being stuck indoors all day during the lockdown was very hard. Thankfully, I wasn’t someone who had to shield and so in the beginning, I made sure to go out for my one hour of exercise every day. I started with a daily walk, and often my younger daughter accompanied me. Then one day, when no-one could see us (!), we tried running for a short distance as part of our walk. No-one was more surprised than me when I found I could run for short bursts without collapsing in a heap. So I decided to download the Couch to 5K app and to give it a go, never expecting to finish the 9-week course. But I liked the format of running every other day and building towards that final goal, and I liked the fact that I could do it even more! The last time I did any running was under duress at secondary school (37 years ago!)
As I write this post, I have just started my 20th week of running. I run three or four times a week now for a minimum of half an hour, sometimes longer as I chase the elusive 5K. I’m almost there but I’m not despondent about it because at the beginning of April, I couldn’t run for five minutes, let alone 5K! After all these years, I’ve realised something that they don’t teach you at school – it’s not about being the fastest. It’s about building your stamina and sticking at it, qualities that have also stood me in good stead as an indie author as well. So I know I will crack 5K eventually because I have the persistence to keep showing up.
Finding new challenges
This month, to give myself extra motivation, I signed up for a Race at your Pace challenge to run 35 miles in the month of August. When I complete it, I’ll get a medal, which is motivation enough for me! Seriously though, it’s about finding interesting ways to keep challenging myself because I really want to continue with this habit and as we still don’t have the full freedom to go wherever we want yet, it’s important to keep finding new ways to motivate myself. I have also been eating more healthily and this has helped me to lose some weight as well, which was an even greater bonus, and certainly helps with the motivation.
Goals = Motivation
So, just like writing a book, I’ve had a goal and I’ve had motivation to achieve it, despite the conflict the lockdown has brought. I still walk on the days when I’m not running and I thank goodness every day for the countryside where I live, and I appreciate how lucky I am to live here. I miss travelling but I’m grateful for all the wonderful places I’ve been in the past that I can look back on. And I can look forward to visiting new places again in the near future, I hope.
I hope you and your families have found a way to get through lockdown, and that you’ve all been keeping well. Let me know in the comments if you’ve found a way that works for you.