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Tag: Walking

How having goals keeps me motivated

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!)

After my very first run
My Couch to 5K graduation message

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

RED January – Getting Active for my Mental Health

In January, I took part in the RED January challenge for the first time. RED stands for Run Every Day but the challenge was simply to be active in some way every day and as I hate running, I decided to walk every day instead. The good thing about the challenge was that it was a positive thing to do – I took something new on rather than having to give something up – and the idea behind it was to boost my mental health and wellbeing. Many people also did it as a way of raising funds for Mind, the mental health charity.

And so instead of walking one or two times a week, I upped my game and set about walking every single day. I walked in sunshine, rain and snow, and found new places to walk in my local area that I had never been to before. I’m proud to say that I didn’t miss a single day and I know it really boosted my spirits to go for a walk every day like that. The challenge finished on Wednesday of course, and I’ve had a couple of days off since then but I already miss it on the days I haven’t been out. So I may have to get back to it now that I’ve got into the habit. As I work part-time for a local Mind association every morning, and I would generally go for my walk after that, I found it was a nice way to sign off from that before starting my freelance work in the afternoons.

I can certainly recommend walking as a way of keeping fit for writers and also as a way of getting some thinking done. I’ve heard many writers say that they have been able to solve plot problems while out on their daily walk! I also use the time to listen to podcasts about writing sometimes, which is another good use of your time. The other thing I have enjoyed is taking photos of the view while I’ve been out and about. Sometimes, it’s been incredible to see how blue the sky has been on the days I’ve been out. I have put some of my pictures below for you to see the range of photos I took – unfortunately, you can’t see just how cold it was on some days!

I’d be interested to know what you do to keep yourself active as a writer, and how you find it benefits your mental health. There’s no doubt that if you take your writing seriously, you will be spending a lot of time sitting down at your desk staring at your computer so it really is good for your health to get out and about if you can, even if only for a short while.