It’s almost a month since I turned thirty-eight. Having a summer birthday can be difficult, depending on your stage of life. When I was at school, and because I lived in a rural area, my birthday would always pass mostly unnoticed by my friends, who were on holidays. In the part of my life I refer to as my “freedom years” in my twenties, this wasn’t the case. There’s obviously no long summer break where people don’t see each other every day when you’re working in a nine-to-five job. Now that I am a full-time writer and work-at-home mother and my life has gone back to being on a school-type timetable, there is this feeling that everything stops during summer. And so my birthday has taken on that weird vibe again because it falls right in the middle of the no-man’s-land that is July.
This year, we had just returned from Spain. All my birthday presents were purchased at the duty free shops so I had received them already. I had some bad news in the morning and learnt that my second-cousin had passed away overnight at a young age, so the idea of celebrating anything seemed a little off. However, I did have a very pleasant day. I took a long walk in the morning and then sunbathed most of the day. Alex made a delicious lunch of salmon, asparagus, broccoli and cous cous (all my favourite foods) and in the evening I went to Nando’s with Alex and Luke. We played crazy golf afterwards and somehow Luke won. My little man certainly seems to have a natural ability for golf.
I set myself a list of goals for the coming year, just as I usually do on my birthday and as I have done every year since 2000 when I turned twenty. Last year, I did not achieve even one of my goals. This year, just one month in, I have already ticked two of them off the list. For the sake of accountability, I am listing them here. They really don’t have any relevance to anyone else. Although I try to provide value in my blogs these days, there is no value here for anyone but me. These are mostly writing and blogging career goals, mostly involving producing new work and reaching more people.
Goals To Reach Before 26th July 2019 (My 39th birthday)
- Reach 50K Twitter followers
- Have 1K Instagram followers and maintain 7.5% engagement
- Reach 2K Facebook likes
- Utilise Pinterest
- Publish a new novel of 80K words or more
- Write 4 or 5 Christmas shorts
- Re-publish all of my books, both on Amazon and on Smashwords
- Get a new car
- Complete another year of university
- Take a family holiday of at least 1 week
- Have a fashion post featured on another brand’s page on Instagram
- Get my moles removed
- Get my yucky tattoo re-done or removed
- Clean up my old social media posts or make the remaining ones useful
- Open an Etsy store with signed paperbacks
- Get back to my pre-pregnancy weight
- Decorate as much of my house as possible
- Go down the big slide at Soar
- Reach level 40 on Pokemon Go (this means walking a LOT)
I have already achieved two of these. On 6th August I felt the fear and did it anyway but tackling the big slide at Soar. This is a ceiling to floor helter-skelter type tube that costs £1 to use and shoots you down at a terrifying speed. I don’t know why I felt so afraid of doing this, but when I was helping Luke to use it I felt more than trepidation. It was the kind of fear that leave your muscles rigid and makes your pulse double in speed. That’s why I knew I had to do it. I don’t want to feel that kind of fear and as soon as you tackle it, you become a stronger person.
Then on 14th August I reached my Instagram goal. For those who say the number of followers you have don’t count, try having a large number of followers. Since I passed 1K I have been approached by a fashion brand who want to enter into a paid partnership with me and asked to participate in a BBC documentary. My blog’s hit counter has doubled and my if that continues I will start making money from it again. As for book sales, I’m not sure if it will affect those, but we’ll see. It’s worth a try.
I spent many years building a Twitter following and maintaining relationships I formed on that channel, but it never yielded the results that one week of a substantial following has provided. Some people say it’s vain to seek out followers, but they’re not selling books. Their livelihood doesn’t depend on it. Mine does. What I don’t want to do is forget about the readers I’ve already got so I am making an extra effort to keep in touch with them. Having a small following means a community organically emerges and I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of having a low following on platforms like Facebook.
Do you ever set goals on your birthdays? What traditions do you have?