Having a challenge, no matter how small gives you something to aim for throughout the coming year as well as helping your mental health, too. A healthy mindset helps you deal with life’s problems far easier. It doesn’t really matter if you complete the challenges you have set yourself, it’s all about focusing your mind on something. It can be anything that gives your life some sort of direction, and a reward. Something that makes you feel you have achieved a goal. Write a short story, or a novella. Enter a writing competition, grow flowers or vegetables from seeds, photograph a particular bird or landscape. Maybe, you want to get fitter, to run a marathon, or just see the latest movie with some friends. Whatever you decide to do, just set yourself an attainable goal.

Paula at age 15 at the first lock, Chelmsford.

Since I was a child, I’ve always set myself a goal. It started from when I was about fourteen years old after my parents got divorced. I used to sit beside the river that ran alongside the mill where I grew up. The river was someone I could share my problems with, knowing it would carry them away to the sea. I use to tell the river where I wanted to be in ten years time. I dreamt about being an artist and travelling around Britain in a camper van, drawing and painting as I went. Of course, I failed my school exams, and then at sixteen, I failed to get into college to do art.

Moulsham Mill in 1963 before the river was filled in and redirected.

Life is a river. There are always obstacles bouncing up to block your way as we all head towards the end of our life span. But, life is all about how we deal with those obstacles. In the past, Chelmer River was once used to power the mill via the waterwheel. Then time moved on, and the mill became powered by electricity. A new channel was dug and the river was moved away from the mill when a weir was built to control the river, to stop it from flooding the centre of Chelmsford. The city of Chelmsford (as it is now called) sits at the centre of the meeting of two rivers, the river Can and the River Chelmer.

View towards the A12. From the top of the mill, after the river was moved

Like the river, my life changed course, and I moved away. With the mill closing down, and the cottage where we lived falling into disrepair, we were moved into social housing. I never gave up on my dream of be coming an artist and took art courses in the evening, but found they didn’t allow for self-expression. So once again, I turned to books, from the library and charity shops. You can always find away to follow your dreams, if you set yourself a challenge. Even if your money is limited, this shouldn’t be an obstacle.

Each year I set myself the Goodreads challenge of reading as many books as I can. The challenge isn’t about beating anyone else, but yourself. You set the number of books you hope to read in the year and then curl up with your first book. Once you have read it, you sign into your Goodreads account, find the book title and mark it as read, you can give it a brief review, or a star rating if you want. Remember in my last posting I explained the Goodreads’ star rating. It’s about how much you, as a reader, enjoyed the books.

What I like about the challenge is it doesn’t matter where your books come from. They could all be ones sitting on your bookshelf now, or the pile you have at your bedside that you’ve never got round to reading yet. They can be charity shop or car boot finds, not newly bought for the challenge. Just create an account in Goodreads, sign up to the challenge, and type in the title of the book and author’s name. Mark the book as currently reading then once you’ve finished reading, you mark the book as read and move onto your next one.

The idea behind Goodreads is to encourage reading. Of course, this benefits the publishing industry, too. At the end of the year, readers are asked to vote on a selection of books in The Reader’s Choice competition run by Goodreads. The competition has all the different genres including non fiction which the Goodreads Readers vote on. You don’t have to do this, if you don’t want, too. I just enjoy the reading challenge for the enjoyment of reading a wide variety of books throughout the year. Reading is good for your well-being, too. Curling up with a book in bed, or gathering your children together in one room where you take it in turns to read from a book, must help save on heating as well as improving you and your family’s well-being. So find a genre you love, or step outside your comfort zone. Whether your books come from the library, charity shop, or the author, get reading.

My Writing Challenge for 2023:

Finish my first Granny Wenlock novel within the next six months. Enter some writing competitions. Submit to some anthologies.

My Painting Challenge for 2023:

Finish a selection of paintings for a craft fair in December 2023. Here I will be able to sell my books, too. I will be ordering my books from the publishers throughout the year.

My Garden Challenge for 2023:

Grow a good selection of vegetables. I’ve saved seeds from an array of pumpkins, have onion sets and potatoes to go in at the beginning of the new growing year.

What’s your challenge for the coming year?

Remember, it’s a personal one to you. Be positive and keep it attainable. If you make it too hard, you’ll be disappointed with yourself and your mental health will suffer. If you have a huge challenge, do it in smaller steps. Remember, it’s your challenge, you can take as long as you want.

Nothing happens overnight. Be kind to yourself.

I’ll be back to chat with you again soon.


  1. I set a goal to read 52 horror books this year. Goodreads says I’ve read 67. I don’t know how to get the number of pages read. It’s mind-boggling that you’ve read over 22 thousand pages!

    My writing goal is to get an agent in 2023. I have a meeting with an agent on February 17. Depending on the feedback, I may do rewrites or self-publish. My personal goal is to draw closer to God.

    Regarding the line you used about talking to the river: “The river was someone I could share my problems with, knowing it would carry them away to the sea.” It’s so profound that I think you should find a place for it in your WIP.

    Best of luck with everything in 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Priscilla. I try to read every day. Sometimes I think the extra book are from last year’s challenge if you read more that your target. This year I’ve gone over my target.
      Yes, I will try to fit the quote you selected into my work. Good luck with your meeting. I wish you all the very best with your agent.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a wonderful challenge, Neil. I want to improve on the number of Comments I received here. I need to work out what I’m doing wrong. Maybe my post are too personal. 🤷‍♀️ I can only write from my own view point. Thank you for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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