5 Tips to be Successful AND Happy in the New Decade

by | Jan 1, 2020 | Gayle Lynds, The Writer's Life, On writing | 11 comments

By Gayle Lynds

Are you shocked that another year has vanished?  I sure am.  Where has 2019 gone?  It’s true I’ve been busy all year.  Lots of life and work.  But still, time seems to have slipped away, sand pouring through my fingers.

Have I lost the last decade, too?  To find out, I read various roundups chronicling wars, politics, advancements and retrenchments, medical improvements and mistakes, increasing poverty, increasing wealth, horrible natural disasters, and entire areas of the planet still pristine.

The roundups told me what had happened but not where all the time had gone.  Maybe time is stuck somewhere in a steel box inside a titanium safe hidden in a hole grown over with weeds where not even an Einstein can find it.

Still, I remember being happy this past decade.  I married John Sheldon, a wonderful man, and moved to Maine.  My grandson was born.  Our family is far flung but emotionally close.  I published two novels and some short stories (two coauthored with John), all of which I really like.  I helped found Rogue Women Writers.  I made new friends and cherished long-time ones.  Oh, the wonderful evenings of conversations, and now, just now, the quietude of my office as I write this.

Do you remember times of being happy over the past 10 years?  How do you know when or even if you’re happy?  Does “success” = happiness for you?  It sure does for some people.

In search of answers, I found “13 things you should give up if you want to be successful,” by Zdravko Cvijetic on CNBC.  I’ll list the first five:
1. Give up on the unhealthy lifestyle
2. Give up the short-term mindset
3. Give up on playing small
4. Give up your excuses
5. Give up the fixed mindset

That’s some really good advice, but why so negative?  “Give up” makes me think of quitting, of running away.  I am ashamed.  Ah-ha!  Maybe irritation makes time last longer – I’d found myself dwelling on the list because it exasperated me. 

New discovery: Being unhappy is a lousy way to make time stretch

On the other hand, studies show that people who take time to care for themselves are healthier, more productive, enjoy better relationships, and – yes! – are happier.  So I’m going to make things right by translating those five rules into positives:
1. Create a healthy lifestyle
2. Think long-term
3. Prize big ideas
4. Turn your excuses into opportunities to say “I can do it.”
5. Let yourself dream of what can be

In our front yard, beautiful fresh snow explodes with a gust of wind.

My search for the last decade is beginning to make sense so that the 2020s don’t have to slip away, too.  I can slow the years by noticing and savoring memorable moments.   Time is an emotion.

As I finish writing this, I sit back and peer out my window.  It’s snowing.  Beautiful white flakes float and dance among the stark branches of the trees.  They stick like silver dollars to the barks, and mound softly in the crooks.  I’m inside a magical snow globe.  I’m happy.  Right now, at this very instant, I smile.  Time stands still.

What do you want the next year to be like for you?  Do you have any predictions?  Please tell!

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. john

    Great blog, Gayle. Speaking of improving my life style, I'm going to start by losing 10 pounds. The less of me, the better!

  2. Karna Bodman

    Terrific – thought-provoking blog, Gayle. When you reflected on all the great things you experienced in the past decade – I thought I'd mention one important development in our family just before the end of 2019. One of our sons has had health issues – especially the need for a new kidney – and has been on the "list" for a replacement for many years. I recall saying a little prayer during our Christmas Eve church service about that — and "Lo and Behold" he got a call on Christmas Day saying they had a match for him – he went into surgery that night and is now still in the hospital being monitored, of course – but so far, so good….such a blessing. As for the future – keeping busy, writing (in various genres which is a nice challenge), staying healthy and continuing to enjoy being part of our Rogue group!!

  3. Gayle Lynds

    Oh my, John. Good for the health, but there will be less of you to hug! 🙂

  4. Gayle Lynds

    What a gift, Karna! I'm so very happy for your son and your family. What a frightening time you've had, and now this wonderful moment when the future opens wide and embraces you. Thank you for sharing! x

  5. Lisa Black

    That is so great about your son! Friends of ours had a similar situation, the husband was just about to time out of eligibility for a heart transplant, it was Valentine's Day, and they decided to have people over to sort of, not give up, but celebrate life–then the hospital called. We would think those timely saves only happen in fiction, but they happen in reality too <3

  6. Lisa Black

    Great blog! My mother, who was the least self-indulgent person I've ever known, somehow taught me to take care of myself. I try to do something every day that I enjoy, even if it's only for ten or fifteen minutes–a crossword puzzle, a cup of tea on the stairwell at work watching the sun rise, something.
    But as for 2020–I lay in bed this morning thinking that this should be the year I get a handle on my publicity and marketing. I've been slouching by for too long. Plus, due to a strained muscle in my hip I'm not supposed to work out–at all–and I just finished a book. So I'm not writing and I'm not working out–that should free up 2-3 hours a day. I need to put that time to good use.

  7. Gayle Lynds

    Publicity/marketing is so hard, Lisa – I agree! It's always seemed much easier for me to publicize other people than myself. But one learns. You are such an outstanding writer that you have lots to publicize! 🙂

  8. Chris Goff

    A true Christmas Miracle. That is so wonderful, Karna. Keep us posted on his progress.

  9. Chris Goff

    Great goal for the start of 2020, Lisa. Let us know how we can help spread the word about your books.

  10. Chris Goff

    I think we're all thinking about what's to come in 2020. Wes and I lay in bed reflecting on what we've seen happen in our lifetimes. Between us we've seen the end of WWII, the rise of technology from color TV to the computer age we live in, the Civil Rights Movement, the moon race…. It's hard to imagine what's still to come. But certainly, thinking long term and dreaming big are tops on my list! Great blog!

  11. Jamie Freveletti

    Loved "Let yourself dream of what can be!" Wonderful thought and I think I'll spend this quiet weekend thinking about this. Happy New Year!