Another Year, Another Path

2018 is winding down as we speak, everyone. From impossible situations, terrible storms, award-winning movies and novels, and countless memories – good and bad – this year has left many of us spinning.

My own year has shown me many things, about myself and others. As difficult as some of it has been, I do believe it has left me stronger. I’ve learned how much I can handle, what I do in unexpected situations, and a little more about who I am and who I want to be. I’ve grown quite a bit over the last 365 days and I can honestly say that there are days where I can’t believe everything that has happened since January 1st. It seems like there’s no way the year could have been so long, and it seems like half of it must have happened to someone else. But the lessons that year has taught me will never fade.

I have definitely learned not to take anything for granted. I’m blessed beyond measure, and I am determined to recognize that and remember it on the hard days. I’ve also learned that, when I do have hard days, my family is more than willing to be there for me. And my amazing wife is the best rock I could ask for. I can honestly say that I would not be in the state of mind I am right now if not for her. She’s saved me more times than I can count. Every experience I’ve had this year has brought with it a new lesson, a new bit of information, a new bit of clarity about who I am and who I want to be.

That’s the real point behind it all, I think. Life presents us with millions – billions – of situations, if we’re lucky, and we have to learn from them. Each notch in our belt, each calendar page that falls, gives us an opportunity to learn, to grow, to become more than we were before we experienced it. The real test of life is whether or not we learn from these attempted lessons. Do we listen as closely as we can to those attempts at making us stronger, better people? For that matter, how much of the message do we retain from day to day and how much do we let slip by us?

Those are the questions each of us has to examine, especially when we’re facing any form of hardship. Knowing that every problem, every challenge, every bad mood and tough situation we face is meant to make us stronger, better, more adapted and able, is one of the most important things we can take with us into every new day. If we look at every day like a chance to learn about ourselves, the world around us, then we’ll quickly find that there’s nothing out there we can’t handle. Personally, I often remind myself that God won’t give us more than we can take. That idea in itself is a powerful way to renew your strength on a rough day. But whether that is your personal reminder or not, one of the best ways to make sure we’re getting the most our of our lives is to learn to accept the things we can’t always change. Every situation we face is meant to help us grow and develop new skills and abilities.

So as we enter 2019, remember to always keep your eyes open for a new chance to learn, a new opportunity to be more than you were the day before. I know one of the most cliche and ridiculed things about entering a new year is setting resolutions. Often, we set our resolutions for renewed health, weight loss, new jobs, etc… But how long do they last? A week, maybe a month? It’s almost human nature that by at least the dawn of Spring, our resolutions are little more than collectors of dust in our lives, forgotten or abandoned because of the everyday world around us. So I decided to change it up a little. Rather than a long standing resolution that is almost certain to be lost in the clutter, I’ve built an ever-changing list of accomplishments for the year, a bucket list for 2019 that will be at the forefront of my decisions and my life. As I cross each obstacle off my list I will be that much more true to myself. I will be that much stronger and that much more accomplished, if only to myself. As I enter the new year, I have many ideas of what I want to accomplish, what I want to see happen, where I want to be 365 days from now. And I know that it’s up to me to make it happen.

The same goes for all of us. We can all be anything we choose to be. We can accomplish anything we attempt. In just a year, we can make our lives whatever we want it to be. It just takes making an effort and not letting anything set us back.

So what do you guys want to accomplish? What lessons do you hope to learn, and what obstacles do you want to overcome? Feel free to leave me comments or reach out to me another way. I’d love to see what you guys want to change this year. As the last few hours of 2018 wind down, I look forward to the beginning of a new year, and I wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year, an amazing 2019, and hundreds of memorable opportunities that will leave you happier than ever.

Setting Goals

It’s officially two weeks into the new year and I think we’re all getting into the swing of things pretty well. 2015 was a pretty good year that saw a lot of changes and developments for a lot of us. Personally I found myself graduating college again, teaching a workshop and signing books alongside an internationally bestselling author, writing a fair amount of short stories, blogging on multiple sites, getting a job that allows me to use my skill set, ¬†getting to meet a few of you guys and most excitingly- I got married! That alone was enough to make the hardships of the year well worth it.

One of my other biggest accomplishments of the year was that I finally managed to complete NaNoWriMo. That’s an experience I haven’t gotten to talk about yet, also. Before I do, though; For those of you that don’t know NaNoWriMo is a challenge for writers where you are pushed to complete a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November. Believe me, it isn’t easy.

This was my third or fourth year attempting NaNo and in the past I’ve always found myself getting so far along (one year it was around 10,000 and another it was closer to 20, etc…) before college and life bogged me down and pushed me in other directions, but this year I not only succeeding in reaching the goal but I exceeded it by over 18,000 words in a period of 20 days. By November 20 I had a 68,900 word novel in my possession and it felt amazing. It still does. I’m currently running the novel through beta readers so I can put it through the second round of editing and am in talks with two separate publishers about pricing and options and what not.

It’s a good feeling, that’s for sure, but the point of this blog is to talk about the new year, right? No matter how good (or bad, if that’s the case) 2015 was, this year can and will be one for the books! My personal plans for the year are to try as hard as I can to get at least one of my novels to a publisher and try to get it to shelves and not just in an electronic format. Another goal is to try (and hopefully succeed) to get my work published in at least 12 periodicals this year. I have more, of course, like getting back into church and refreshing my relationship with God for myself and my family, but those two are relevant to writing.

Now, obviously these things on my list are New Year’s Resolutions (yes, I’ve made it two whole weeks and I’m still trying!) and that’s a bit of a controversial topic. A lot of people think that making resolutions is a waste of time, some even say that it is a direct challenge to true happiness with one’s life. Their argument for this, of course, is that by making resolutions and pushing yourself to change your life in a certain way, it prevents you from being who you truly are. Silly, right? The point of resolutions is to be a better you, a you that you are happier with. So why not try it? Of course, I’ve also failed at resolutions like everyone else, but this year it feels different. This year I’ve made a list of goals that, if I don’t give up on, will make me a stronger, better, happier me.

So what about you all? Have you decided to make this year better? Have you worked on a list of goals that will improve your life? One thing that I intend on doing this year, with this and my other blogs, is to improve the quality and quantity of the posts I am giving you all. I would like to inspire each and every one of you to go out there and take life by the horns this year, so I want to hear more about what you all want from the blog itself and from me as a writer. How can I be better at this and make more of a difference? No answer is a wrong answer, so give me all you’ve got! Have a great weekend and make those goals, stick to them and change 2016 for the better!