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Twelve months ago, I began my unexpected return to the US, after living in Germany for two and a half years. For my last nine days, I stayed with old friends in the Odenwald region. They wanted to make sure my final time would be filled with beautiful memories. They did a wonderful job and I can’t thank them enough.

As I pondered my return, I used every free moment to set goals to keep focused. To keep it simple, my list included two goals, along with the steps necessary to accomplish those goals. I knew I needed to start rebuilding my life as soon as my feet hit American soil.

My first goal was to conduct a book-signing at a major bookstore, because…well…that’s what a writer does, right?

My second goal was to earn the prestigious Toastmasters International Competent Communicator designation. In order to do this, I’d need to complete 10 speech projects from the Competent Communication manual, each designed to help me develop my speaking skills. I felt improving this skill would help me in my writing career.

What happened to me over the year was simply amazing:

I wrote a piece for The Huffington Post that inspired the CEO of a major supermarket chain and earned an employee praise from the top.

I began a novel,which is currently over 44.000 words. I’m still reworking the plot. In addition, I outlined three other novel ideas to keep me busy for a while.

I worked for a major social media marketing firm. What I learned convinced me to improve my website and integrated blog, making it mobile responsive. I also learned the true value of the work I did in this area while in Germany. Wow!

I worked on a screenplay with an indie filmmaker. Even thought it was brief, I learned quite a bit.

I joined Toastmasters International in May of 2014, in San Diego, California. I had a fiery determination in my belly and I focused on learning and perfecting the craft of public speaking as soon as I could.  After only 168 days, I earned the prestigious Competent Communicator designation from Toastmasters International. In my quest for this prestigious honor, I won a number of awards, including Best Speaker for most of my speeches

On October 18, 2014, our family had a birthday celebration  for my grandmother, who turned 90. The place was packed with family, friends, and those whose lives she’d touched. I had the honor of being the MC. I felt the new skills I’d attained from being a member of Toastmasters were beginning to pay off.

In 2013, I contributed to the the book 101 Awesome Things To Do for Someone Who’s Sick . In 2014, the book won two awards: The Indie Excellence Book Awards and The Living Now Book Awards.

I contributed another story to the popular book: Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Family. Although I signed my agreement in 2013, it wasn’t published until the Summer of 2014.

I was able to win National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) 2014. Another 50,000 words completed.

As you’ve probably noticed, I didn’t accomplish the book-signing. However, so many other things happened that weren’t on my list. For me, the explanation was simple. By working toward my goals–even such a short list–I was filled with so much powerful positive energy, other opportunities were drawn to me like a magnet. I’ve already started on my goals for next year. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. What a difference a year makes.

So…bring on 2015! I’m ready!

Don’t forget to check out the video below.

Post by The world of author Lawrence D. Elliott.

The image “print the words are welcome on the mat of green grass” courtesy of Mitra Sahara. Used under Creative Commons license 2.0.