Setback: A Reason to Quit or a Time for Reevaluation?
Setbacks happen. To all of us. Sometimes when we least expect them. I recently had a big one. On January 2nd, I came down with a cough that eventually worsened and evolved into pneumonia – which sidelined me, well, pretty much until this weekend. A whole month – lost.
Or was it?
Productivity wise, yeah, it was a lost month. I had to tell my clients, “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” Most were very understanding, offering to pray for my quick recovery. I didn’t work on my novel. I had to cancel the first Meetup of the year for Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion. My husband and I had to cancel a getaway to Flagstaff. I was down.
Benefits to Being Sidelined
But the sidelining forced me to do some things I, apparently, haven’t been very good at. One – resting. A lot. Like all day long for two straight weeks. Two – pacing myself. Once I regained a little strength, I had to figure out where and how to use it, because it was so limited. Three – listening to my body. Besides the obvious breathing issues, the illness also affected my digestion, sleeping, skin, and cognitive function. Who knew that thinking used up so much more energy than exercise? Four – drinking water. I’ve heard for years that we’re supposed to drink ½ our body weight in ounces per day – and I’ve never come close to that. Being sick, though, made me desperate for water. And I learned that I very much prefer ice water. So now that I’m in the water-drinking habit, it’s probably something that will stay with me.
It also gave me time to dedicate to something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – express myself more, in terms of social commentary. When Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. died 10 years ago, one of the terms that was used to describe him was social commentator. I loved that – and wondered what I needed to do to become a social commentator. I added it to my personal description on my website, but I never pursued it much. I guess I do a little of that with this blog, but I really work on staying focused on book marketing, so the opportunity for broader expression is limited, by design. I could start another blog – but those of you who’ve been following me for a while know I can be pretty hit-or-miss with this one, so another blog seems a silly endeavor unless/until I get much more disciplined. Maybe someday…
In the interim, I had my trusty phone with me whether I was in bed or watching another stand-up comedian’s Netflix special, so I delved into Facebook in a way I never have. I’m honestly not advocating for Facebook – it’s just the platform that was accessible to me at the time. (I’m also exploring a new one called Minds.com that looks to be a very promising challenger to THE social network.) And I started paying attention to all of the posts I was seeing – many of them, understandably, political. I don’t know whether it was simply having the time, or whether I was finally deciding to answer that calling to be more visible about my perspectives, but I wrote and posted a lot of stuff, some of it very personal, that I’d never before shared publicly. Things like: my complicated position on abortion; my mom’s lifelong mental health issues that finally turned out to be vascular dementia; my feelings about the “Make Facebook Fun Again” meme; my thoughts on Obama’s legacy; many issues on both sides of the political aisle. I never pay much attention to my friends count, like some do – but as far as I can tell, it didn’t really waiver in the face of all these new revelations. Did I impact anyone? I think so – just based on the comments on some of the posts. Have I been invited to blog anywhere or do a TEDx talk? No – not yet. But it was a good exercise, one I hope to find time to periodically continue as I emerge from my illness and get back to work.
Last May I started working with a personal trainer, Miles Beccia of Mind Muscle Memory. Miles’ training style was foreign to me, at first – very different from the prior experience I’d had working with a trainer. But he’s actually a genius – and his method, reflected in his business name, works. His method is to start slowly, with the goal of training your body and mind to work together to form new patterns that help you eat well and get the most out of your exercise regimen. “Because,” he said, some months ago, “if you ever experience a setback, you want to be able to get back on your program as soon as you can afterward.” (OK – that’s paraphrased.) But it really worked! Not for one moment while I was sidelined due to this illness did I ever consider abandoning my new exercise and healthy eating habits. Yes – I sure had to put them on hold for a while, as consuming multiple boxes of saltines is not really recommended for a healthy person who wants to reach a weight loss goal. But I’ve recently resumed my workouts, though slowly and in a fairly abridged format. More importantly, I am motivated to work my way back to the full strength and stamina I had when I left off at the end of December.
What It All Means to You
So what does any of this have to do with book marketing, anyway? A lot, if you think about it. No matter who you are or where you are in the publishing process, chances are good that you’ve hit a setback or two. This lead or that tool did not pay off the way you thought it would. You were less than successful at three book fairs or festivals in a row, which caused you to think, “I’ll never do this again!” You burned through your annual budget in the first two months of your book marketing campaign. Whatever it is – you’re not where you wanted to be or thought you would/should be by now.
What Are You Going to Do About It?
- Are you going to become a victim, give up, and go back to whatever you were doing before you decided to write your book?
- Are you going to take some time to reevaluate your plan – or write out a plan, if you’ve never taken the time to do that before – so you can make any necessary adjustments and give it another shot?
- Are you going to learn from the experience, and apply what you’ve learned going forward?
- Are you going to get back on the treadmill – or decide that you never really wanted to lose the weight in the first place?
Setbacks happen. Here’s hoping you make the most of the next one that finds you.
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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