Last year I made a promise to myself. I would write and post something every day even if it was simply to caption a photo from my most recent adventure. Thus began my Photo of the Day blog posts. Often, that was all I could manage. While my writing and photography skills have both sored to new heights in the last 12 months, I’m afraid my time management has all but left me.
Therefore, today marks the start of a couple of new writing goals. By virtue of recently befriending a fellow reader, writer, shooter, athlete and foodie, I have decided to take a step back from blogging in order to participate in April NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I plan to continue to post regularly, three times a week rather than my previous five, while using the off days to dig into a novel idea that I’ve been in the process of finishing for the past seven years. It’s high time I did something about that.
Many blessings to everyone this Easter. I hope you’ve enjoyed my random sparks of inspiration, potluck recipes, fantasy quotes and the occasional freewrite. I look forward to sharing much more but am excited to be embarking on a new literary adventure.
January is well under way. The chaos of catching up from a long Christmas vacation is winding down and life is beginning to resume its usual rhythm (albeit a slower one since COVID measures were first put in place). It’s high time I renewed a few promises to myself and started making good on them. I think my previous struggles in this area stem from a combination of poor planning, a lack of discipline and a tendency to be overly optimistic about what I can reasonably accomplish in a day. There just aren’t enough hours to do everything everyday. However, there are some things that I’m confident I can achieve this week.
Read – Whether it be to finish the Mistborn Trilogy or to start Atomic Habits, even if it’s just a few pages between now and Sunday.
Write – Before midnight. Write during daylight hours when the creative juices are still flowing and there’s sun filtering through the windows.
Knit – That striped sweater won’t finish itself. Wouldn’t it be nice to add it to the rotation of warm woolen handknits next winter?
Be tidy – Dirty dishes and a greasy stove top can not be allowed to dominate the kitchen for more than 24 hours after cooking.
Exercise – Yoga, hiking, running, it doesn’t matter. Just do something!
SLEEP!!! – So many problems would be solved with a few more hours of regularly scheduled rest. Break the college habit and get a good night’s sleep.
What to write when you have nothing to say? Anyone who has ever attempted to commit to a writing goal can attest to grappling with this dilemma. Despite meticulously laid plans and the best of intentions, some days you just come up blank. It feels as if you can do nothing but stare at that blinking cursor in the upper right corner of the screen. A frustratingly large amount of the time, you wish it would simply move on its own.
However, every writing guru also knows that the tiny, winking black line at the top of the page is propelled by one thing, your voice. It is the most obedient worker, tap dancing across the white stage only when expressly commanded by your vigorous typing. It’s the perfect dancer but you must provide the choreography.
Today, for the umpteenth time, I am taking a moment to jot down a few goals. I’ve been dreading this for a while since my list looks frighteningly similar to one I made five months ago. I was hoping to have checked some of these items off by now but sometimes writing them down can be a jump start on a fresh start so here goes.
Kill time with Facebook, Netflix or Youtube.
Leave dirty dishes in the sink.
Forget to open the mail.
Stay up past 11pm.
Skip the workout.
Forget to practice the piano.
Put off meal prep ‘till Monday.
Be awake during daylight hours.
Go for a run.
Read a book.
Do an hour of yoga.
Play the piano.
Finish your paint by numbers.
Finish knitting your first sweater.
Clean as you go.
Cook dinner on Sunday.
Be outside everday, rain or shine.
Go out for date night, even if it’s just you.
Write for fun and away from screens.
Bring a notebook.
Go to bed early and wake up early.
Make a routine and stick to it.
Say ‘thank you’ everyday.
While there are plenty more helpful resolutions rattling around in my brain, these are the ones I’d most love to master. What are your do’s and don’ts?
Do you ever have days or weeks in life when it feels impossible to accomplish anything? Your eyes constantly itch with fatigue and your mind clunks along at half speed. No matter what you try, you can’t seem to get any traction on one project or task. We’ve all been there.
Recently I realized one of my personal key motivators is exercise. Sometimes the best way to get moving is to literally get moving. In October I set a few ambitious but achievable fitness goals for myself and proceed to fail miserably at all of them. After two weeks of consistent dedication to a new workout routine, I fell off the fitness wagon and watched it disappear into the distance in a cloud of dust.
I wasted far too much energy beating myself up over this defeat but eventually decided to cut myself a break (again) and regroup so that I could start fresh at a later date with renewed enthusiasm. Of course, I neglected to settle on a specific date and time crept on with no progress whatsoever. I became lax in my other after-work activities and my life came to an agonizing halt until I was itching to leap out of my skin.
Today I started exercising again and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. It was nothing more than a brief ten minute home workout in the comfort of my little living room but it was enough. It was exactly what I needed. I got more done in an hour than I have over the last two weeks!
Make sure to get your heart rate up everyday even if it is only for ten minutes. It was like someone had pushed the reset button on my attitude. How do you stay motivated?
“Remember to follow your dreams, but also bring along your brain.”
Those words were written in my mom’s familiar, loopy, half-cursive scrawl on a card I received for my 18th birthday. Too often, I think people only receive the first half of that message. Throughout life we’re taught to be creative and unique and to do what we’re passionate about. This is all fine and good but I do think it’s worth reminding everyone that you also need to pay the bills. I doubt your landlord will accept the lyrics to your someday hit single in lieu of rent payment.
The secret to happiness is not simply to do what you love but rather to align your passion with the lifestyle that you want. If you want to be a renowned artist but your talents haven’t yet been discovered and you can’t bear the thought of being broke, then I recommend finding another way to pursue your passion for the time being. I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t chase your dreams to their fullest potential, to the ends of the Earth even. Quite the opposite.
Your livelihood and your future do not need to ride solely on this beautiful passion of yours. People tend to assume that ‘passion’ and ‘career’ are synonymous. They’re not. If you put too much pressure on your dreams, you may soon find yourself thoroughly disenchanted with them and hunting for a new one. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before diving into the abyss of discarded dreams.
What do I love to do?
How do I want to live?
Does one support the other?
If the answer to the last question is no, don’t panic. It’s more common than you think. This is not a godly sign from the universe that you aren’t meant to do whatever it is you love to do. It just means there’s a little more work required to make it happen. This is where many people lose faith and interest. They encounter this roadblock, give up and go home rather than find a detour. So what if you have to take the scenic route? The journey is half the fun anyway. And I guarantee you’ll learn more about what you’re capable of after overcoming a few obstacles. Here are some follow up questions you might want to consider.
What am I good at that I enjoy doing?
Does this allow time/energy/resources for the pursuit of the thing I love to do?
It’s important to note that you are never stuck. What you do right out of school doesn’t have to be what you do for the rest of your life. But maybe it’s the first step toward that goal that you’ve been holding onto for years. By all means, follow your dreams. Let them take you to places you’ve never been and never thought you’d be. Just don’t forget to bring your brain.