In my last post I discussed how change (the jump) proved hard, but completing that change (the fall) often turned out the easiest. I’m really good at choosing to fall. I’m a goal oriented person. If I don’t have a goal (even a small one) I’m not sure what to do with myself.
But, I’m not so good at completing personal goals in a timely manner.
It isn’t a lack of motivation or conviction. I’ve got an abundant supply of both. It all comes down to consistency. Habit. Time management. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. I’m not good at saying no. I’m not good at putting time into the projects that are important to me. Instead, I give that time to the projects that are important to others.
In the spring of 2016, I found myself wrapping up a publication project and book launch for a friend, with another friend’s publishing project nearing completion. I’d also helped coach both into starting their own businesses, which became very, very successful.
I got paid by both friends, it wasn’t free work, but it was considerably less than another business would have made off each project. I don’t regret my work on either project or helping encourage them to pursue their passions as businesses. But, as a stood photographing the launch of my friends book and inevitably her motivational speaking career, it hit me like an asteroid out of the sky.
I worked a full-time job and spent all my free time helping other people achieve their goals. Those goals included being published, helping countless others with their publishing dreams through design work, and helping launch businesses through branding and coaching. I was very good at helping other people achieve their dreams and, while I had managed to come very far with my own goals, I had somehow gotten away from my one true dream: to be a published author.
I’ve been writing since I was little, and from the span of 2009 to 2015 I had completed five manuscripts (three in one series). Only one of them I’d tried to publish by the traditional means, and ultimately realized it needed to be completely overhauled. I started on that project in 2014. By spring of 2016, I had yet to budge it past the halfway point.
I was feeling depressed, anxious, and unfulfilled. But, that asteroid of an epiphany told me the truth. I had to stop investing my time in others and start investing it in myself. By summer of 2016, I put what I had of my book on a website called Inkshares, only a few chapters, and I didn’t think anything of it. I wanted to get it out there more as a dedication, a promise to do something with what I had worked so hard on for the last ten years. Soon, I found myself being encouraged by fellow authors to enter the Geek & Sundry publishing contest.
I didn’t win the contest, but out of over six-hundred entrants, my novel, The Living God, came in 6th and met the preorder goal for publication with limited release. By June of 2017 I’d turned the novel in for kick-off to publication. It is an anxious wait, but soon it will be physical and in my hands and I will finally have achieved my goal of being a published author. All because, for a year, I invested time into myself and my dream.
How many goals have you been plucking away at with the limited time you have between a day job and obligations you’ve made to others? How does procrastination get in the way of those goals? How many passion projects lay stagnate because of poor time-management or stretching yourself too thin?
Time is a finite resource. A portion of that time is taken for sleep, because we need that to live, and work, because, well, we also need that to live. Then, we give time to be with our loved ones and friends. With what is left over we sometimes donate hours to volunteering, to church, or the community. Some of us do freelance to help afford necessities, I’ve been there. In the end, you get a few hours each day to spend on whatever you want. You can spend them on someone else, or you can spend them on yourself.
Donating time or working side jobs for a little extra money is all well and good until it takes away from what is important to you. When that starts eating away at your dreams and into your very soul, it is time to reinvest that time.
Deposit those hours into the Bank of You.
I still volunteer my time, I still give back to certain organizations, but I’m more mindful of how much time I give to others. I maximize my donated time for the greatest impact, so I can give less and do more good in order to have something left over to give back to myself.
Investing in yourself is not selfish. It is necessary, both for goal completion and health. Analyze a typical week and figure out how you can structure your time. Make yourself a priority. Learn to turn down projects or requests that will add too much to your already loaded plate. Learn to say no. It is hard. It takes practice. Build better habits that will decrease procrastination and limit wasted time. Monitor the amount of time spent scrolling social media. Clean up behind yourself throughout the week to decrease the time spent on chores during the weekend. Take breaks and carve out free weekends for yourself. Use a calendar religiously. (I have a calendar that has everything I do built into it. My time is structured to an almost military precision.) Make appointments for yourself in that calendar. Block out times for you to work on your project and stick to it, that way no one else can claim that spot.
Deposit the time saved by doing even a few of those things into a better place… you.