February is more than half over.

Are you as surprised as I am?

I thought I would use this week’s blog post and email blast to offer you a chance to “check-in” with me.*

So, let me start by checking in, with you.

My Year So Far

January was a pretty good month for me I recently heard from Silk Road Review, which is the literary magazine published by Pacific Oregon University that my short story, The Outlaw, was selected for publication in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

The Outlaw is one of my personal favorite stories. I feel like it had a nice balance of humor and heart, and I think it is a story many readers will remember, at least for a little while.But as I’ve talked about before, being published isn’t an aspect of my career I actually have much control over. Whether or not a story is published is someone else’s decision.

I know from the personal responses I’ve received from editors that many of my stories are good. They just didn’t make the final cut. And that is, ultimately, beyond my control.

So when I say January was a successful month, I do take a few minutes to enjoy the news of an upcoming publication, but I don’t count that toward my assessment of the month. Instead, I focus on the things I CAN control.

Or, at least, the things I can usually control. Of course our lives aren’t ever fully in our control, but there are things we can control about how we live our lives and help make sure we are progressing to our goals.

How have you progressed so far in 2015? Is there anything I can do to help you continue toward your next level?
How have you progressed so far in 2015? Is there anything I can do to help you continue toward your next level?

I set goals in three areas: personal health and well-being, creative output, and business growth. I have some goals that are “by the end of 2015”, some that are measured monthly, and still others that I keep track of every single day.

In most of the areas, I was right on track. For example: I read several books, I wrote one new short story, and I kept up with my weekly checkpoints at a rate of 88%. (My weekly checkpoint goal measures about 35 data points throughout the week, and my goal is to hit at least 85% every week.)

In a few other areas I had made some progress, but the items weren’t completed. I set up a PayPal option for sponsoring this blog, for example, but I haven’t made the videos I want to develop to help readers understand WHAT the donation program is and HOW I use the money. Or, another example: I wrote quite a few new pages for a novel-in-progress, but it isn’t finished yet.

And, finally, there was at least one category I did not succeed in. Yet. I had a goal of losing five pounds a month, each month, throughout the year, and I did not succeed in January. I lost three.

Measurement Means Action

Based on my results, I was able to make some additional changes to my schedule and focus. Specifically, in the area I failed, I changed tactics. I started a different diet and exercise plan in February, and so far the results are encouraging. I am on track to not only lose the five pounds for February, but also make up the extra pounds I did NOT lose in January.

In the areas where I made progress, but didn’t master the goal, I have taken a look to make sure I’m at least “on track” to finish the goal by the end of the year. So far, so good. I have made a few minor tweaks to my daily priorities list in order to make sure I am not out of balance, but otherwise, I feel things are progressing nicely.

Of course, the areas where I felt I was excelling not only made me feel good about accomplishing things, they helped me understand when I’m doing something RIGHT.

What About You?

So. Here is YOUR chance to let me know how you are doing so far this year. Send me an email, or use the Speak Pipe widget on the right hand side of my website. Or, if you want to be bold, you can use the comment section for this blog post, and share your successes and minor failures with everyone.

I want to know where you are succeeding so I can celebrate with you.

But I also want to know where you are falling short, where you are struggling, or where you are perplexed about how to move forward. If there is a way I can help, I’d be happy to.

At the very least, I hope this post reminds you to take a few moments to check-in with yourself, and honestly assess your progress so far in 2015.

 Special Note: I wanted to say a public “Thank You” to Pilot Pens and specifically Holly Houser. I had a silver Metropolitan Collection fountain pen that I had been using without incident for almost a year before it began to leak around the nib. I reached out to Pilot and Holly asked me to return the pen, and she issued a new pen to replace the faulty one. (She also sent along a sample of their disposable Varsity fountain pen and five ink cartridges for my Vanishing Point fountain pen.) It is very easy in this day and age to harp on bad customer service and use the internet and social media to tear down a company, but in this case, I wanted to use my bully-pulpit to say I was very happy with the way Pilot handled this issue with generosity. So, thank you, Pilot Pens and Holly. I very much appreciate your response. 
*The truth is, I had a completely different blog post planned for this week, and I started writing it on Monday. As of today, I passed the 3,000 word mark on that post, and I realized it will need to be at least two or three separate emails. I think the content is good, and might be helpful to you if you have found yourself stuck in your writing so far this year. Stay tuned.
How About a Check-In?
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