As regular readers of the blog know, we Ladies have spent some time this January talking about our New Year’s resolutions or lack thereof. Many of us have chosen to go the route of using the dawn of 2014 to recalibrate and update e our goals instead of making official declarations. I am one of those in the goals camp. One of the upsides of that approach is that things I haven’t accomplished thus far aren’t lost resolutions or chances. Even if I miss a deadline for a goal, I can reset it and come up with a plan to do better starting now. Technically, the same can be said of resolutions, but words have certain connotations, and failing at a resolution just makes me feel worse than recalibrating a goal.
While some of my goals are specific to finishing drafts and submitting manuscripts for publishing consideration, one is the granddaddy of them all, because if I manage to achieve it, it will make my other writing career goals possible. And that goal doesn’t come with uprights* or a finish line. It’s a process! In a word, it’s prioritization.
Getting the balance right between family, friends, work, health, and leisure is a struggle for many, in fact for most people I know, but I feel like I’m particularly bad at it. Is that because I chose a high-stress, deadline-driven, time-intensive day job? Or did I choose that career path because I can adapt to imbalance (read: too much work) in my life? Either way, I find myself at a crossroads. This past month alone, the things I have sacrificed for the day job include multiple date nights with my husband, hang-out time with my daughter during her last week home over the holidays, at least half of my workouts per week, and my precious few daily hours of writing time (nearly all of them). If I were to make a priority list based on the way I am currently living my life, it would look something like this:
5. Loved ones (family/fur babies/friends)
7. Health (fitness/healthy cooking/sleep)
8. Reading/other fun stuff
In that list lies much suckitude. So, what’s a writer to do when the day job becomes the day, evening, weekend, holiday, and vacation day job? I haven’t found an answer to that question yet, so for now, I’m looking for ways to re-prioritize around it, based on my priority wish list:
1. Loves ones
3. Reading/other fun stuff
Yeah, that’s probably not realistic unless and until I find a much less stressful and intensive day job. Trust me, after a month like this past one, it’s under serious consideration. In the meantime, I can work on the somewhat achievable goal of restructuring my day. Some of the other Ladies have talked about getting up (or attempting to do so) at 5AM to write for two hours before starting my workday. I could do that. Maybe. At least some days. And twice a week, I could cut that back to one hour of writing and throw in an hour of workout time.
When I get to writing and workouts first thing in the morning, I approach both with much more energy and enthusiasm than I can ever muster after a long day at work. And it’s a great feeling to sit down to dinner with my husband knowing that, even if I have to get back on my computer and continue working the ‘day’ job late into the evening, I have a sense of accomplishment regarding my true priorities. Thus far, I’ve only joined the ranks of the 5AM writers a few times in this new year, but as I said earlier, and we’ve said here many times on the blog (as it’s one of our McD class mottos), it’s a process! It’s a goal, and instead of feeling like I’ve already failed to do something I’d resolved to do before January even ends, I will continue to work toward that goal, until I’m getting up at 5AM five days a week.
What are your priorities, and how do you make time for them? For those trying the 5AM writing schedule, how is it working for you? And do you have any tricks or tips to get yourself out of bed at that hour on these cold, dark winter mornings?
*gratuitous post-season football reference