Shape Up or Shape Out

January is notorious as the month people eat healthier and attempt to deploy healthy habits. From quitting smoking, giving up soft drinks, working out, taking up a new hobby, becoming more organized – I can think of how every January I came into the month determined and by the last day I was ready to give up.

So far, I’ve been shaping up. The shape out is not in sight. My shape up goals include getting organized (my 30’s have revealed a forgetfulness I don’t want anymore) and to be more active. This gal, who’s the heaviest she’s ever been, needs to start moving and grooving if I don’t want to have a heart attack before 40.

What’s the point of this silly post?

I’m going to give you my tips for Shaping Up – sticking to your goals throughout the year.

1. One day at a time. It’s scientifically backed that a person has to consistently do something for a minimum of 30 days to form a habit. Take one day at a time, and you’ll get there.

2. Set reminders. We’re human, life happens, and we forget. Set the reminder on your phone.

3. Prepare for Rain. There’s this movie I love, Facing the Giants, the movie is about a high school football coach’s faith and strength, it’s tested to capacity. There is a good quote from the movie that I believe in, though this is a shortened/paraphrased version – “I heard a story of two farmers praying to God for the rain to come. Both prayed but only one prepared the land. Who do you think trusted God more to send the rain?” In whatever you plan to do, you have to prepare for it to succeed. You want to work out, get a bag of those clothes together to take with you. You want to eat healthily, make a Pinterest board and clear out the cabinets of the foods that won’t help you. Want to get organized, purchase the journal, take it with you everywhere, etc.

4. Don’t procrastinate. The more you put off the one task  – Making the lunch, scheduling the work out appt., getting up from your computer and going to the work out room. We, as humans, are quick to believe there will always be tomorrow. This is your goal, how important is it to you?

5. Get some accountability. Another thing a lot of us have a challenge with is completing a task when there is no riding our butts about doing it. If you have a workout group, an app, a single person, the cloud – there are dozens of options to choose from. No matter your goal something exists to assist.

6. Develop Tangible Rewards (if needed). I don’t follow this practice because it doesn’t work for me, though I find it’s harder to commit to something where the results may not be visible right away. If that’s a problem for you, if you need instant gratification, then set some up. From a special cheat day to a new book or movie. Whatever you need to do, do it. There are apps out there that require you to put money into them and if you don’t reach your target weight you don’t get the money back – scary crap – for the right person that’s a tangible, motivating, reward.

Finally, 7. Be kind to yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day and success is not instantaneous. Goals are accomplished in small steps and they build to bigger ones, but that won’t happen if you put yourself down. Nor, if you give up at the first sign of weakness. It’s important to know that you are capable of everything you want to do and so much more.

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Writer’s Meh

The other day one of the Passionate Critters said she was having trouble getting motivated to get any writing work done. She knew what she wanted to write, knew she had some edits to do, but her heart wasn’t in it. Other things were just more interesting. Six of us responded that we felt the exact same way, including me. It’s not writer’s block–which I don’t really believe in, anyway–but it is a writer’s meh, which totally exists.

I have two books in various stages of completion, and while I have a third out on submission I should be working on them. One is so close to being done it’s practically taunting me. I was a bit stuck on where I was going with it, but last week I had a brainstorming session with a friend and I realized exactly what I needed to do. But I still haven’t been able to keep my butt in the chair, and some days I can’t even get it there at all.

It’s very easy to blame writer’s meh on lack of time or  life stress–especially during tax season, which is particularly painful when one is self-employed–but that’s really just an excuse. There’s always time to write, even when life is being persnickety.

I think writer’s meh stems from a need to check out for a while. To take stock of where you are as a person, writer, mom, wife, worker, whatever. To clear the brain of cobwebs, I suppose. (I’m thinking a lot about spiders today–I found FOUR in my house this morning. *shudder*) Unfortunately, I’m not entirely sure how to get rid of it. The meh, I mean, not the spiders. I’m pretty clear on how to get rid of those.

Perhaps just a little time is the answer, although a writer friend suggested a meditation exercise that might help. In any case, I think I’m close to getting the cobwebs out, to getting the brain ready to get back to work, and to pushing the writer’s meh away, at least until next time.

How about you? What do you call this weird period of non-productivity? How do you get through and out of it? All of us critters could use your suggestions. 🙂


About Marin McGinnis

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press. Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book. You can find her here, at, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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