‘What if?’ insurance

We have car insurance and health insurance, but what about “What if?” insurance? What if your car breaks down? What if you’re laid off? What if you get seriously sick? What if your computer dies and the manuscript you’ve been working on for two years dies with it? What if you get in a car […]

Budgeting matters in the creative life

My husband and I recently completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, so together, our financial budget matters. But so does our time budget. Your grandma’s birthday is this weekend? My best friends’s birthday is next weekend and I work all day.

Why does money and time matter to the creative life?

We need to budget our creative time and, when applicable, budget money for our creative life.

This includes things like blog fees, publishing fees, graphic design fees for your new book cover. I’m not going to lie. I kinda suck at this (aren’t I poetic?), but I’ve learned to sneak in time for my creativity lately, a lot in part because of this blog. Write in the cracks of life. I write during breaks at work. I write on my phone while riding shotgun to events. I jot down ideas as they come to me on sticky notes, to-do lists, and random slips of paper.

Taking time away from creativity because you’re lazy can be like signing on for a loan.

You are indebted to whoever or whatever you signed the loan and your time to. You can pay it back and slowly get your time back, but it takes time and money. Time and money you’ll never get back.

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you get money quick, you’re probably going to lose money quick. The same thing goes with inspiration-driven creativity.

If you rely on only creating when the muse visits or when inspiration hits, your creativity is going to be fleeting.

You’re going to lose it fast. But if you budget time for creativity often in your schedule, it will just keep on building, similar to interest on an investment.

Challenge A: Budget your time for next week. Make time for your creative life by literally writing your creative hours down on your calendar. I don’t care if you put it in your phone, write it in a tiny box on a printed calendar in your office, or add it to your to-do list, but write or type it somewhere. Then follow through with this commitment to yourself and for yourself.

Challenge B: Add a creative line to your budget. Whatever your art needs, like a computer program, contest fees, or paint, set aside some money for it because your art is worth it.

Got goals? Learn from the pros!

Last week we discussed #goals. This week, we’ll talk about how to achieve those goals.

Here’s a simple step-by-step process that takes a lot of time and effort:
Step 1: Learn from the pros.
Step 2: Do what the pros do.
Step 3: Achieve goal.

No matter what your goals is – writing a book, becoming a MIG and TIG welder, budgeting your finances – the best way to fulfill those goals is to learn from the pros. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of pros want to share how they became a success because what they do is important to them. And who better to learn from than someone who already figured it out? Ideally, learning from a pro is done in person, such as job shadowing or an apprenticeship, but that’s not always an option, which is okay. There are other ways to learn!

Learning isn’t just for students. Learning is not limited to the classroom. You don’t stop learning when you get a diploma and not having earned a diploma doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your dreams.

Lifelong learning is necessary for everyone with goals.

I believe in the value of higher education, but I recognize that going to college or starting a job training program isn’t the only way to learn. We must think outside the box for various avenues to learn, which is fun and easy to do in this technology-driven world. My favorite ways to learn are:

  • Visit a library. There are seriously SO many opportunities to learn within a library – and I don’t just mean the books. (Although you should try reading books, reading eBooks, and/or listening to Audiobooks, too.) Many libraries offer events and workshops, and they are usually free – no library card required.
  • Visit a local college or university. They often host well-informed speakers (pros, if you will) for lectures and present cultural events, and many of these are open to the public at little or no cost. Also, look into their non-credit offerings. You can’t earn a degree when you take them (non-credit = no credit earned toward a degree), but you can learn a lot of amazing things for a low cost. (My mom and I took a few cake decorating classes a few years ago. We spent less than $100 between the two of us and had a blast. I also learned that I won’t be starting a cake decorating business anytime soon.) Check a college’s website or call them up to see what they offer. They aren’t just there for their students. They are there for their community; they are there for you.
  • Attend workshops and training opportunities. Personally, I seek out opportunities through my employers and my local libraries, but a quick search on Eventbrite shows a variety of local options. You might have to pay for these if your employer is not.
  • Listen to podcasts. Podcasts opened up a whole new world for me! There are so many experts on various topics out there who answer questions and inform their audience on their specific area of expertise.

Here are few resources I have found inspirational and insightful.

Books: 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller; Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis; and Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion, and Purpose by Sadie Robertson.

Podcasts: The Ken Coleman Show, EntreLeadership, Christy Wright’s Business Boutique, and Life Money and Hope with Chris Brown. If you’re not listening to podcasts, you should be. There are so many out there! These are just a few I listen to for free on CastBox, which is a free app for Android and IOS.

You know what’s crazy?

Learning to fulfill your goals can also get your creativity flowing again when you’re tired.

Creativity is intertwined with the rest of your life, so keep on learning.

Challenge: Do one of the above bullet points this week and let me know how it goes in the comments.

In an effort to share my love for learning with the community, I created a library display that highlights all of the things you can learn from library books.
I focused on what you can learn from the adult non-fiction section, from budgeting to getting a job.

Letting Go of Perfect

Some days I’m convinced perfectionism is a shape shifter. As I edit my drafts and continue down this writing path I get more and more ‘finished’ projects. At least I think they are finished, till I read them again a week or two later. What happened to my perfect project? Why do I hate the […]

Life #goals

Last week I shared a post about why we want to quit and talked about how important it is to flip the question and instead think about why we are doing whatever it is we’re doing in the first place. I talked about goals a bit and I want to develop the idea that goals are important here.

If the word “goal” makes you think of “New Year’s Resolution” and you grimace, think “challenge” instead. Who doesn’t like a challenge?

Goals should be stepping stones to achieving your dreams.

What do you dream about doing someday? Now make that smaller. Cut it up into bite-sized pieces you can attack today, this month, this year. Those are your goals.

Personally, I live for goals. If I’m not in a fitness challenge, I tend to slack on my workouts. If I don’t have a goal date to have a project done, it just sits there. So I always have running goals, short-term and long-term.

If you don’t have a goal in mind, then where are you headed?

Goals focus me. I realized early on in my 20s that I’m absolutely aimless and stagnant without goals. If something comes up in my life that doesn’t serve my goals, then I’m more apt to turn it down with good reason. If an opportunity comes into my life that aligns with my goals, I will probably jump at it to get closer to achieving my goals. Otherwise I’m just a ping pong ball going back and forth to what everyone else wants.

But what if you don’t have set goals? Break out your thinking cap and let’s go for a ride.

Life goals

What do you want out of life? You might know this even if you haven’t ever pinned it down or written it in your journal. Do you want a big family? Do you want a successful career? Do you want to own your own business? Do you want to publish a book someday? Your life goals encompass all of your other goals.

Focus on what you want but consider your family, especially your spouse, with your goals. If you want to own a big farm in the middle of nowhere but your husband wants to be a lawyer in a big city, you need to have a conversation.

Career goals

Is your dream job something big like being a heart surgeon or pop star? Or do you have more modest goals like being a stay-at-home mom or helping the community through your desk job? Think about what you want to do. Not what your parents/spouse/friends/the world say/says. What do you want to do with your life? Then pursue it and (hopefully) get paid for it.

Family goals

Do you want to get married or be single? Do you want a ton of kids or are you happy with a couple dogs? Do you want to adopt or do you only want biological children? If you’re in a relationship, talk about these things with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/fiancée now.

Creative goals

Do you want to publish on a blog or publish in a brand-name magazine? Do you want your friends and family to read your stories, or do you want the world to read them? Will you be happy if you never get on the bestseller list? Is self-publishing a few books enough for you, or do you want an agent and a career?

Take a deep breath.

If you’re not 100% sure what your goals are in any of these areas, that’s okay. You don’t need to have all the answers now, but I hope you’ll start thinking about them today. And it’s okay if your goals change over time, because they probably will even if you don’t fulfill them. That’s how life is. We change, sometimes our dreams change, and so our goals change.

I’m not completely sure what my dream day job would be, but I’m reading books, listening to podcasts, and journaling about it to figure it out. Then, when I know what my career goal is, I’ll be able to pursue that goal in incremental steps. In the meantime, I’m going to learn everything I can about what I might want to do and how I can go about doing it. That way, when I do know, I’ll know which path to take.

Challenge: Think about your life goals. If you know what they are, take a big step to achieving them this week. If you’re not sure, take some time to think about what you would like to achieve, ask yourself why, and talk about it with friends or family members to receive solid feedback.

Extra credit: Turn superficial #goals into real-life, “I’m getting stuff done and pursuing my dreams” #goals. Or, like me, grab a cup of coffee to give yourself the jump start you need to pursue your goals. Share your #goals with me on Instagram @writersam77.

Note: If you’re not sure where to find information on how to achieve your goals, visit me next week.

Why do we want to quit?

My 6 o’clock alarm goes off and I want to roll over and skip my workout because I’m tired and hate mornings until I have coffee in my hand. Halfway through my writing project, I think it’s dumb and want to stop writing because it’s crap and I can’t imagine who would like it anyway. When I have a really rough day at work, I consider quitting my jobs and becoming a stay-at-home dog mom because obviously that’s a great career move. 

Tiredness, frustration, boredom, fear of rejection… These are all reasons to quit.

But what would quitting solve?


It would only create more problems. I’d lose muscle tone and gain a few pounds back, which wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I have goals, you know? I would never get published if I stopped writing right now. I’d almost surely turn into a blob of sad who lived on my couch if I stopped working. I’d also stop gaining fitness knowledge and writing skills if I gave these things up.

I would stop becoming a better version of myself if I quit.

Now let’s take a step back. Who am I? I’m a young woman who enjoys writing, editing, reading, running, cooking and baking (when someone else does the dishes), binge-watching TV shows, and spending time with my husband, family, and friends. I’m a millennial who works hard. I’m a writer, blogger, librarian, and night owl. I’m a lover of coffee, nachos, and ice cream who tries to live a balanced life, whatever the heck that is.

I know. I can hear you now. “Sam, why does any of that matter to me?”

It matters because it gives me my why.

When I want to quit, I shouldn’t focus on the problem. I need to focus on my why. Instead of “Why do I want to quit?,” I need to turn the question into:

“Why am I doing this?”

My why for today may be the same or way different than it was when I started running/writing/working, but today’s why matters because today is, well, today.

Life constantly changes, so my why is going to change, and that’s okay.

If I didn’t want to publish a book someday, I could stop writing. Writing would no longer serve as a means to obtaining my goals. But it is one of my goals, so I’ll keep writing, editing, and being rejected.

Why do I want to publish a book someday? Because I love sharing stories and I know that within me, I have some stories that someone else needs to read. Why do I workout most mornings? Working out makes me happier overall and gives me more energy throughout my day. (See this blog post for more on that topic.) Plus, it makes me stronger physically and mentally. Why do I have two jobs right now? Because I have grand career goals and I improve my writing craft every day at my jobs.

Now it’s your turn. What are your goals? For your career, for your family, in your life as a whole? Write them down. Then take a step back and consider the why behind those goals. Make your why meaningful and write it down.

Instead of thinking about all the reasons why you want to quit, figure out why you want to keep going.

Challenge: Think about your lifelong and/or short-term goals this week and write them down. Then write your why down. What happened recently that made you want to quit? If you kept going, what pushed you forward? If you quit, how can you get back to it and stop yourself from quitting again? Let me know in the comments.

Note: If you don’t already have life, career, and family goals, that’s okay. Visit me next week for more on why goals are not only important, but necessary in life.

P.S. Look at how my dogs help me write! I’d be an awesome stay-at-home dog mom.