Tag Archives: planning

NaNO? NaYES! (Guest Post)

NaNO? NaYES!

by Steph Beth Nickel

Most of you are likely scratching your head.

What on Earth does that title me?

Well, those of you who are writers have likely heard of NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50K words in 30 days.

Crazy? Some may think so. But thousands of people all over the world are sharpening their pencils and limbering up their keyboarding fingers.

Although I have participated in the far more flexible Camp NaNo a number of times, I’ve never taken the plunge and actually signed up for NaNoWriMo. All that changed this year and I’m diving in.

Sh! Don’t tell anyone, but I hope to make significant progress on a story I’ve had in mind for a very long time. The point of the challenge is to write the first draft—or close to it—of a new novel during the month of November, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really want to write My New Old Life.

So how can I set myself up to “win” NaNoWriMo? How can you set yourself up to achieve your goals—whatever they may be?

Learn from those who’ve gone before. (Tweet this.)

Although it may feel as if you’re alone, there are those who have gone before you, who know what you’re facing, be it an exciting new challenge or a heartbreaking situation.

I’m so thankful for those who have gone before, who know the pitfalls to avoid, who know how to plot a course (or a story), who know sometimes you just have to “feel the feels,” as the saying goes.

I would encourage you to learn from those with a positive attitude, who are further along on the journey. I have listened to some NaNoWriMo veterans on YouTube who shared great advice. I have also listened to some who share more about what went wrong. That’s not necessarily helpful or encouraging.

Plot out the journey—at least the highlights.

For the most part, I’m known as a pantser in writing circles. Come to think of it, I kind of live life that way as well.

I love paper planners and journals. They enable me to dream and pretend to be super organized. But I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind getting to the end of the day not having checked everything off my To Do list. In fact, I can’t remember a time I actually accomplished everything I’d set out to do on any given day.

But when it comes to crazy big goals, like writing 50K words in a month, some plotting comes in handy. If I know the major plot points I want to hit in the story, it will keep me moving in the right direction.

And if we know the major points we want to hit along this journey called Life, we will have a better chance of achieving our goals as well.

Plan to succeed. (Tweet this.)

While it’s okay to participate in NaNoWriMo and write 30K, 20K, even a few hundred words—after all, it’s more than we had written at the beginning of November—it’s best to go in planning to win.

And that’s the way it is with other things in life as well.

I’ll never have a clean, organized home. So why bother trying? They’ll never hire me for that job. Why even apply? I’ll never be thin. Why bother eating healthy and exercising?

It’s so easy to give up before we even get started. Let’s set ourselves up to succeed instead and take one step at a time in the right direction.

Don’t give up when things don’t go as planned. (Tweet this.)

We all know that it doesn’t matter how carefully we schedule our day or plan our life’s course; things will always come up that have the potential to derail us all together.

While we may have to reconsider our plans and dreams, it doesn’t mean we have to abandon them altogether. We just have to be willing to reprioritize as needed, and, as Christians, we must believe the promise in Romans 8:28, that God is working everything out for our good.

Fireworks image with the words, "Celebrate the victories -- no matter how small."

Celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

Many NaNo participants set up a reward system for achieving word count goals during the month of November, the more words, the more extravagant the reward. This kind of system keeps some pressing on.

Whether or not you choose to reward yourself when you make progress toward your goals, it’s a good thing to celebrate in some way. Too often we become discouraged when we don’t achieve our ultimate goal, when we don’t cross off everything on our To Do list.

Let’s celebrate the “small” victories in our life—and in the lives of those around us. (Tweet this.)

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Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

The Best Laid Plans (Guest Post)

The Best Laid Plans

by Steph Beth Nickel

Have you ever made extensive plans only to have them go sideways?

I know I have—and I’m pretty sure the same is true of you.

Isaiah 55:8-9 gives us some insight as to why this is. These verses say, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (ESV).

I know there are many reasons our plans don’t work out the way we intended, but I am certain God is involved and will keep His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV).

I remember one incredible summer several years ago. Our finances were beyond tight and we really didn’t know what the future had in store. But I had spent hours in God’s Word and prayer and I could honestly voice the following realization:

Lord, if we have to be on the verge of bankruptcy for me to remain this close to You, then please keep us there.

Humanly speaking, we would rather avoid unemployment, illness, and broken relationships. But these and other struggles can result in tremendous spiritual growth. This is why the Lord commands us in James 1:3 to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”

He goes on to say, in verses 3-4 to say, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

As Christians, we believe this on one level, but we find it hard to “count it all joy” when our plans crumble at our feet. It’s easier to look back and rejoice after we’ve seen how God was at work in the situation. But what if we could look ahead with confidence, knowing God will fulfill His promises?

Last weekend I left my hubby in Toronto for a weeklong stay. He was to have two hernias repaired (which he did). I had plenty on my To Do list and had no idea I would begin to miss him before I even left the clinic parking lot.

I am not typically a worrier and don’t mind sleeping alone, but that first night I woke us from a very troubling nightmare and was not at all impressed. (It might have something to do with reading a mystery novel before bed, but we won’t talk about that.)

What did the Lord bring to mind? That I ought to pray for those going through far more challenging circumstances: a lady who just lost her husband of many, many years; a relative in her late 30s who is dealing with throat cancer (and she’s never smoked a day in her life); friends whose marriages are in serious trouble …

Will God work these situations out for good? He will.

Does He use things I wouldn’t have planned to bring about His purposes in my life? Absolutely.

As His child, you can rest assured that He will do the same for you.

And as we make our plans, let’s do so prayerfully, asking God to have His way in our life, knowing His plans are higher than ours.

Tweetable

God’s ways are higher than ours. (Click to tweet this.)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Guest Post: Do Not Be Anxious about Anything—Even the Good Stuff

Do Not Be Anxious about Anything—Even the Good Stuff

by Steph Beth Nickel

In times of heartache and worry, I’ve often quoted Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV).

On September 2, I will be boarding an airplane with my hubby and our daughter. We will be taking our first trip across the Pond to the land of our ancestors. You see, my eldest son is getting married next to Loch Earn in Scotland, which will be followed by three days on the Isle of Skye (pictured) and various day trips.

Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye [image courtesy of pixabay.com]

As I write these words, I’m very conscious of my breathing and my heart rate. Am I anxious? I guess I am. Am I afraid to fly? Not at all. (And hey, I’ll have hours and hours to read. Bonus!) Am I worried about meeting new people? (If you’ve known me for say—five minutes or so, you’ll know the answer to that one.)

Do I have issues with my future daughter-in-law? Actually, we get along really well. At Laura’s request, we went shopping for her wedding dress when she and my son were visiting for my hubby’s surprise 60th birthday party in March. And she found the dress in a local store I hunted up online.

Why be anxious?

Having purchased our tickets online (with a lot of back and forth and missed telephone calls, but that’s another story), I have to trust that there will be a place for us on the flight—three places preferably. I also have to trust that we will have all the necessary documents and will clear security—on both sides of the Atlantic—without incident.

Have I done my homework? Yep. Have I made an all-inclusive list of things to pack in our checked luggage and in our carry-on, of things to wear and things to have readily available? I actually started packing over two weeks before the departure date. Have I booked my daughter’s transportation home from the airport? I have. (She has to return after a week for work. Dave and I are staying for another seven days.) Hey, I’ve even watched a YouTube video on bundle packing. (If you are planning a trip, it really is a “must watch.”)

Even as I mentally check off the things I need to do, I’m still a little anxious. Can I flip a switch and experience instant calm? Well, not exactly, but there are certainly things I can do.

What to do when we’re anxious:

I can do what the Lord instructs in the passage I shared earlier. I can pray and thank Him for this amazing opportunity.

I can rest assured that He will fulfill His promise and grant me the peace that passes understanding, a divine peace that guards both my heart and mind. Wow! What a promise!

And a number of weeks ago I made a tremendous discovery. It’s like a game actually, a mind game called “Worst Case Scenario.” Based on the reason for my anxiety, the worst thing I can imagine is that we would get to the airport and not be allowed on the plane because of a mix-up with our tickets. (Yes, I know there are even worse scenarios, but they aren’t the possibilities that are troubling me.)

The question is do I trust God? Do I really trust Him? Do I know that everything that comes into my life is filtered through His love? Do I know that He has all the details worked out, even those that haven’t even crossed my mind?

As I ask myself these questions and come to the conclusion that the answer to each one is a resounding yes, I can take a deep breath and leave it all in His hands.

Beyond that, I think it’s about time I memorized the entire passage, Philippians 4:4-7. Those preceding two verses read like this: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (ESV).

Tweetable: God has every detail under control. There’s no need to be anxious.

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Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.