I was talking with Rish the other night, and lamenting the fact that my birthday is very fast approaching. It's really got me worked up, because this year will be my fortieth birthday. I think, once I cross that age, it makes me officially middle-aged, at least if I'm understanding that whole thing correctly. I'm not over-the-hill yet, because I believe that is when you turn fifty, but it still upsets me.
I'm having a really hard time coming to terms with my progressing age, lack of youth, impending mortality, all that bullshit that tends to upset human beings with enough time and prosperity to worry about simple problems like that instead of big problems like where my next meal will come from. So, yes, I realize it's kind of a first world problem, but it's messing with my head nonetheless.
I mentioned how, when I turned 39 I came up with a bunch of goals to achieve in the year before turning 40. It was sort of my attempt at staving off the inevitable depression that seems to come with getting old. If things were getting better, and I was achieving great things, then getting old couldn't be that bad, right? Of course, my nature took over instead, and I achieved none of those goals, and even regressed in most areas.
Let me see, I was supposed to lose weight down to my overall goal of weighing 200 lbs. again for the first time in many years. What progress have I actually achieved in that area? Well, today, I weigh 20 lbs. more than I did when I made the weight loss goal. Run a marathon this year was another one of my goals. Health issues caused me to give up on that quest, and, although I have been cleared of those issues, I still haven't started back up with the running.
I made the goal to go the entire year without drinking soda, which is a bit of a stumbling block of mine sometimes. I went a full six months, and stuck to that goal religiously, but then, after not seeing any obvious gains coming from it, I totally gave up. Holy shit, what the heck is wrong with me? I did so good, and I just gave up. Man, sometimes I even freak myself out with my lack of resolve. Even if I'd gotten no gain from it whatsoever, imagine how good it would have felt to be able to say that I'd stuck with something for an entire year, despite a myriad of chances to cave in and quit. I made it six whole months! But then I quit. Dammit, it never hurt so much until I wrote this paragraph.
Then I had my writing goals. My goal was to write 300,000 words, participate in NaNoWriMo, publish 15 stories on Smashwords, and podcast 8 of my own stories on the Dunesteef. Let's see. I probably fell about 250,000 or more words short, could not manage NaNoWriMo at all, published zero stories on Smashwords (unless you count the stories of mine that Rish published for me, like "Last Contact", but I don't, because I didn't publish them, he did), and I've podcasted three of my own stories...which actually kind of feels like a win, despite being way short of the goal.
So, my goals for this year were complete failures, really. I did well with some of them, then eventually blew it. So, while I was talking with Rish about it, he said I needed to stop whining and make new goals going forward. A goal to be a full-time writer, or to write a certain amount of words, or to publish my stuff, or...anything, really. I laughed, and told him of the goal I'd made ten years ago when I turned 30.
My goal was that by the time I was 35, I would make my living as a writer of fiction. Of course, in those days, I had no idea what that involved, other than writing, and submitting stories to magazines and books to agents for publication. The most obvious thing should have been that first one: write. I did a small amount of that, not nearly enough to make my living as a writer. Thirty-five came and went, and I was no closer.
"Well, maybe you need to set that goal again for five years from now," Rish said.
And dammit if he wasn't right. I do need to set that goal again. I've got five years. Luckily, being a writer isn't like being an athlete or an actor or something. As long as your mind is intact, you can still become a writer. You don't have to worry about your body getting too old to run the 40 in four seconds, or you face sagging along with your boobs until there's no parts left for you. You can be as fat and ugly as you want, and still be a writer. After all, look at the writers out there, they're mostly a pretty scary bunch. I think I'd fit right in.
So, I'm resetting my goal. Five years. I started making my goals the other night. I figured that one of my biggest shortfalls was that I had a big picture goal, but no steps-along-the-way goals. So, I started making smaller goals that would lead me to my eventual big goal. That same day, I was reading an article about my favorite soccer team these days, Sacramento Republic FC. They started out this year in the third division of American soccer, but before ever taking the field for the first time, they had a goal of making it to the first division, becoming a part of Major League Soccer. The article I was reading was about how they've worked towards that goal, and are on the brink of succeeding, and there was a quote from the team's president that kind of inspired me. "A goal is a dream with a deadline," he said.
At the same time, I was reading one of Dean Wesley Smith's blogs, and he also talked about the importance of making deadlines for yourself, and sticking to them. So, deadlines are a major part of my five year goal structure.
I also mean to publicly shame myself if I don't achieve my goal...and I suppose publicly laud myself if I do. I have made a post, and set it to publish automatically on the day that the deadline has passed. The post will say, "I am a loser that doesn't even respect my own self. I made a goal to finish my story by such-and-such a date, and I didn't fulfill it. Everybody point and laugh at me, so I don't do this next time." If I manage to finish the story, then I will be allowed to come in and change the text to something positive instead.
My first goal is to have my next story written by September 27th. When I made the goal, it was a pretty easy goal to achieve...except I didn't do anything, and now the deadline is really looming over my head. The story is called, "Chloey, Joey, Zoey, and David Bowie." I'm pretty excited about it. Rish thinks the title is horrible, but it's the entire impetus for the writing of the story, so it will not be changing. And besides, I think the title is great, so there.
So, watch for the post that hits on September 28th at 12:01 AM. Hopefully, it will shout of my victory!
It's interesting, because right now, Rish and I are both in a bit of a rut. Yesterday, when I was talking with him, Rish was wondering why that might be, and he decided that it was because he hadn't gone to Comic-Con in San Diego this year for the first time since before the podcast began. He was missing his annual fix of Kevin Smith inspiration.
I told him that I had had a weird experience right before coming to meet him. I'd been in the break room at work, and seen an American Family Insurance commercial playing on the television, and found myself moved to tears by the inspirational message.
Seriously we're talking about an insurance commercial. I despise the insurance industry, because I believe it's mostly made up of crooks who want to take your money from you because you are afraid, but then, in the off chance that one of your fears are realized, they will do their best to avoid paying your valid claim. And secondly, insurance commercials suck. And, I suppose, thirdly, it features an NFL player, and it seems like there's just no NFL players that aren't tarnished anymore. It's almost like playing for the NFL means that you must be a dirtbag. If we don't know about your issue yet, we all figure that it will be coming out soon. I still love the NFL, because I've loved it my entire life. But for most people that listen to the Dunesteef, they already hated it even before this stuff even started coming to light, and now it's only worse.
Anyway, here's the commercial:
It seems like it was friggin' made for me. All I need is one yes. I need to put in the work, the hours, the sweat. Because dreams don't come true, dreams are made true.
I've got five years, a plan, deadlines, and consequences. It's time to make my dreams true.