We always here that phrase about time. You know the one. “Well, we all have the same 24 hours.” DaVinci, Mozart, Newton, Elvis all had 24 hours. It’s true. Yet why is it some people seem to make so much of their time and others have little or nothing (or even negative fruits) to show for it?
Today might be an uncomfortable topic, but if it helps any, it makes me uncomfortable too.
I don’t know if any of you are like me. Your attitude is, “Instructions are for SISSIES.” So I pull the pieces out of the box and just intuitively put stuff where it goes. Being an ENFP, we love doing stuff by gut. It’s comfortable…until it’s uncomfortable.
Because when I get to the end and am ready to plug in that lamp-endtable combo? It wobbles. Ah, hell, and there are these extra parts. I just thought they were being sweet and giving me backup screws in case I lost a few in the carpet.
So I have three choices. 1) Deal with/ignore wobbly lamb that leans like the Tower of Pisa 2) take the sucker apart and THIS time read the *rolls eyes * instructions and START OVER 3) PAY someone else to do it.
When we fail to plan we plan to fail, and there will generally be three outcomes:
1. Subpar thing/situation we just deal with and cringe a little every time we see it.
2. Cost us MORE time.
3. Cost us TIME and then MONEY (to buy someone else’s time).
See, if we don’t appreciate time and how it works or doesn’t work, we can leave ourselves open to chance, pain, misery, rework, etc.
Now, there are no right and wrong answers here. Why? Because you aren’t me and I’m not you. We ALL have different lives, challenges, gifts, constraints and past experiences. We all want different things out of life.
Thus today, these are some broad strokes that I hope will help you in writing, but also in ALL areas of life, because we need to be balanced.
I’ve been the person who had a LOT of money. When I was 28 years old, I was in sales and made more money than any twenty-something should make.
I drove an average of 2500 miles a week. I didn’t date, spent no time with family or on my spiritual or physical health and guess what? It cost me my job and nearly my life. I almost died from pneumonia. AND, because I had no friends, no support network, and no close relationships with family, no one was there to think to check on me (and I was too proud to ask).
Thank God for pesky mothers.
I recall lying on the couch unable to breathe and realizing that I’d invested SO MUCH TIME into being “successful” that I could die and the only way someone would know the pneumonia finally beat me would probably be a from neighbor reporting a bad smell to the manager.
Low, low, looooow place to be. But, in retrospect? The best place to be and the greatest gift I was ever given.
Only We Can LIVE Our Dreams
My father was brilliant. He wanted to be a writer, but instead he tried to fit into what family and culture said was “successful.” He died making $8 an hour fixing bicycles. Well, I didn’t want to be a “failure” like my father, so I took a job I hated because it provided the title, the car, the money, and the outward appearances of happiness.
Those of you who’ve read this blog for a while know I won an Air Force scholarship to become a doctor, because I thought it would impress my family. It didn’t. Then, I earned a premiere degree from a top university. Four people attended my graduation and I got a cake from a grocery store. So, I moved on to sales. If I made a LOT of money, surely they’d be proud. They weren’t. Then, I got into LAW SCHOOL.
Wait, do I even want to BE a lawyer?
Good thing for me the Brilliant Law School Plan came after the Near Death Experience with pneumonia. I wanted to be a writer, had known it since I was four, but I had to make others happy, right? I mean, when I said I was a writer they laughed, but if I had a LAW degree, that was writing….right?
And don’t get me wrong, I believe nothing is wasted in God’s economy. As a writer, I have used that three years as a Neuroscience major (the med school thing), and that degree in Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa (the pre-law thing), and the many hard lessons from sales (namely that I SUCK at it).
But look at all the TIME, MONEY, and REVISION because I wasn’t brave enough to go after MY dream. Other people’s dreams cost us less, but also cost us everything.
Because my father wanted to be a writer and failed, being a writer=FAILURE. I never stopped to think he failed to plan so he planned to fail. Since I was spread all over the map trying to make everyone but me “happy” I had no focus. When it came to my end goal of being a NYTBSA, I had a LOT of lost time to make up for.
We CANNOT Have Everything
Time is finite. The media will tell us we can have six-pack abs, cook gourmet foods, have a Martha Stewart house, perfect kids and can be everything to everyone all the time.
We MUST choose. If we don’t, we will live the equivalent of the cheap All You Can Eat Buffet. Lots of choices, most that gets tossed away and never really satisfies (and might even make us sick).
When we realize we can’t HAVE everything, we stop trying to DO everything. EVERYTHING is NOTHING.
And this is a lesson some of us will revisit many times. Y’all know I have been battling Shingles. Here’s the deal. We can have the carrot or the stick. I chose the stick…again *head desk*
Hey, it was ORANGE. It fooled me.
In trying to do all the cooking, cleaning, washing, yard work, homeschooling, blogging, writing, traveling, running two businesses and caring for ill and dying family members? Guess what?
I FORGOT the painful lesson I’d learned with pneumonia…so I got a refresher with SHINGLES.
And it has cost me three months of work. I’ve nearly had a nervous breakdown with all the things I couldn’t do, and things I still can’t do. But, when I pan back? This has given me the opportunity to ask:
Just because I can do it, does it mean I should do it?
In trying to repair my relationship with time, I’ve realized (PAINFULLY) that time must jive with reality.
Looking back, there was no way I could keep that pace and it not catch up. But, time is tricky. It’s like taking a toddler to the mall. We MUST keep an eye on it or it WILL get away (and we might not ever find it again).
Priorities Take Priority
Catchy 😀 . The problem is it is SO easy to mistake the urgent for the important (thank you, Mr. Covey). We wash the dishes, clean out the e-mail, volunteer for crap we don’t even WANT to do to impress people we don’t know or even like or are just too chicken to say no…and priorities take the hit.
Priorities will also shift over time…especially if you are hardheaded and been dumb like me. Since I DID NOT make rest a priority? Guess what I got to do THREE MIND-WRECKING months of? Sleep. Trust me. It is no trick for a workaholic to work more. Make them take a nap and wait for the weeping sounds.
Thus, I’ve gone back to my original list of priorities:
My Spirit—For me? I try to start every day with God. I love Andy Stanley, Joyce Meyer, and Craig Groeschel the most. I listen to their lessons while I’m waking up and getting caffeine in my system. I believe God will give me back the time I spend getting spiritually centered. I also take at least ONE FULL day off a week. Resting is now a HUGE priority.
Refreshing our souls is vital, especially creative people. Whether it is a walk, meditation, yoga, reading, or however you get spiritually grounded, ALL things spring from our well. Is our well refreshed and flowing? Or is it stagnant, stinky and floating with bugs?
My Family—My husband takes priority because the best thing for Spawn is to feel safe. Mommy and Daddy in love, working as a team is the best investment in his future. Also, I am enjoying the little boy Spawn is. I can have an aneurism over the 9 zillion Army men on the floor or that he’s sprinkled Chex like fairy dust through the house…or I can enjoy him being little. He will only be FIVE once.
My Writing—Self-explanatory. Yep, laundry needs to be done…after I make a certain word count. My mantra these days?
IT CAN WAIT. If an item isn’t in the first three of YOUR priorities? Odds are, it can wait. It’s urgent masquerading as important 😉 .
Everything in our lives, our relationship with time, should ideally come after the first three. Writing is not my hobby, my “thing”, my fun. It is fun, but it’s my JOB. If my JOB takes over my spirit and family, bad things happen. If other “priorities” like a perfect yard, crocheting, volunteering, helping others with “their lives” creep into that top three? Time to revisit and recenter.
Time is finite, which means focus is vital. You matter. Your dreams matter. Thing is, only YOU can make them a priority. So take some time and invest in YOU. Brainstorm all the things you want then circle the top three and THAT is where I’d consider placing energy and time.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel like too little butter scraped over too much bread? Is it hard to say no? Have you lost your center and don’t even know what you want? Have you defined your priorities or are you letting others command the agenda? Do you lose too much time in helping others at the expense of YOU? Have you been through burnout? What did you do? Are you there now? Have you kept the same priorities out of habit and not thought about revising the plan? Have you ever gotten SO off-track you made yourself ill? Are you now more vigilant?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of DECEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
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