I am a recovering workaholic. I have always had a to-do list to keep track of everything on. And I get immense satisfaction from crossing things off my list. Unfortunately, I still sometimes get into the mindset that I MUST get it all done while at the same time underestimating how long things take and adding WAY too much to my list.
It’s a recipe for disaster.
I end up panicking and inevitably morph into THAT crazy lady. I yell at my kids, snap at my husband, and at the end of the day I crash into my bed immensely regretting my actions.
I am also a bit of a book addict. I generally read two books at a time. Reading one or two chapters out of each every day. I had just finished a chapter in a book where the author had you come up with a vision for where you would be in 10 years. It was so fun to let my heart go wild while envisioning my future. Just so you know, in 10 years I plan on living in a modest ranch house I had built on 40 acres of land, with two horses and two dogs. I will also have sold a few books, made a career of writing, and be completely debt-free. (Maybe it’s a crazy dream, but go big or go home, right???) She also gave some practical ways to help you achieve your goals and make your dreams come true. I love books like this because I walk away on fire to make some changes and get my butt to work. And this time was no different.
But then my workaholic mind decided to take over again. I thought if I really want to make a career out of writing, and get some books published then I best get booking it. (Yes, pun intended.) So, I ordered books on writing from the library and joined a few Facebook writing groups. I also read a bunch of blogs and liked, followed, and commented in order to connect with and learn from other bloggers. I lost a lot sleep that night dreaming of all the amazing blogs I was going to create, and I came up with a title, subtitle, and picture for my book cover. I dreamed all of this up at 3 am. Why is it that in the middle of the night our creative juices seem to flow the best????
I also decided to make one of my goals to write 30 minutes a day. Just to practice. I had read somewhere that was a good habit to get into if you really wanted to take your writing seriously. And I do.
The next day came and I had planned to meet a friend to catch up with her, so I had a ton to do around the house. I also needed to finish up work for my part time job and take care of my kids who are off on summer vacation. I got it all done, had a fantastic time with my friend, came home and chatted with my hubby, and then watched a movie while snuggling my youngest son. By then it was time for bed. And I realized I had not written a single word.
I started chastising myself, but I had also read advice about getting 8 hours of sleep and getting up early, so you have time for yourself and can get some writing in before the day starts. So off to bed I went.
As I laid there, God started talking to my heart. I was feeling frustrated and disappointed that I had not written a single word that day, but God reminded me of another piece of advice I had read about lately.
Everyday list out 15 things that you did RIGHT.
See our brains tend to follow patterns. It’s just like well-traveled paths in the grass. The more you go down the trail the more the grass gets pushed down and then that’s the easiest path to take. Our brains like to take the easy path. Scientifically speaking, there is a space between the neurons in your brain. And the space between the neurons that are used more frequently shortens so that they are closer together and it is easier and faster for those messages to get through. Just like the well-traveled path through the grass. By the way we think we can literally re-wire our brains. How cool is that???
And knowing that, we can ask ourselves, do I want my brain focused on my failures? Or my successes?
I decided I want to focus on my successes, so I need to train my brain to do that by listing off all the things that I had done right today.
I kept the house clean. I encouraged a friend and was encouraged by her as well. Our meeting fed my soul which is great self-care. I chatted with my hubby. And I also snuggled with my son which is fantastic because those precious moments are slipping by faster than I would like to admit.
God also reminded me that although the advice I read said to write down who I would be in 10 years, in that same chapter she had also asked me to write down what my highest priority was. And you know what I wrote down?
Look, I do believe in my dreams. Even if they are crazy. I plan to learn how to be a better writer and pour my heart and soul into this. There is nothing wrong with being confident. There is nothing wrong with working hard to make your dream a reality. There is nothing wrong with having goals. And there is nothing wrong with believing in yourself even when your dream is big, crazy, or seems impossible. You just have to keep track of your priorities.
And for me, my first priority is my family. They are my number one dream. Writing is simply my dream career.
So, if making myself write for 30 minutes every day means that my workaholic habits kick in and I will go a little crazy, then it is not worth it. I do not want my crazy being poured out on my family. Or anyone else for that matter. I really want to be present in every moment with my family, and sometimes that means that the writing will have to wait.
Now, some people DO need that motivation. They need to sit down and write 30 minutes a day in order to move forward in their writing career. They need clear, concise goals. That is what works for them. But if I try to do that, I will drive myself bonkers. I must do what works for me. You must do what works for you. Read the books, take the advice, but don’t fall for the trap that you must do it a certain way or it won’t happen. Live your life in the best way that works for YOU.
That is what I am going to do. I am going to live my life and go for my dreams in the way that works best for me. Which means I can’t make my goals a to-do item. I can’t force myself to write. I need to simply let it flow from my heart whenever it is ready.
And by doing that, I can go after my crazy dream without driving myself crazy.