Breaking down excuses and endless obligations to find purpose

In college I took a personality test. The results were not shocking. I’m an achiever who likes to feel significant. Yes, I love to do things and I love to do them well. As a result I tend to overbook and overwork myself, anything to avoid a moment of idle time.

Can't beat a good "Keep Calm" poster!

Can’t beat a good “Keep Calm” poster!

I’m a mother to an active preschooler and a wife who insists on my family sitting down each night to a home cooked meal made by yours truly. I’m the chauffeur and cheerleader for all my daughter’s activities: preschool, three dance classes, soccer, music, and art. I own, manage and instruct at my own dance studio, which I have created from the ground up here in Saudi Arabia. I am a speaker on time management for busy and working moms. I am an author to a non-fiction dog book and work tirelessly on my fiction projects. I am a seasoned freelance journalist always juggling projects of various time commitments. I’m also co-president for a community organization that focuses on planning and supporting children’s programming.

My life is busy. I feel significant and like the achiever I am everyday. But am I working on the right projects? My big picture goal career wise is to be a successful author and to get all these fantasy stories in my head out onto bookshelves and electronic readers. Could some of my projects be in the way or even worse, serve as “excuses” to keep me away from my writing?

This has been a big question weighing on my mind lately. I’ve begun evaluating everything I do and asking myself the following questions:

1. How does this benefit my family?
2. How does this benefit my big picture goal?
3. Does this make me happy?
4. Why did I feel called to do this?

These four questions are helping me to maintain perspective and keep moving forward in my goals rather than stalling out using excuses.

Another thing I’ve begun doing, really sticking to my daily writing goals. Yes, that means nothing gets in the way and they come first. I even wake up earlier to help make this happen and before I go to bed I reread my writing from the day so it sticks in my head overnight and I recall it easily in the morning. I write early and first so that way when the day goes crazy, as it usually does, I know that at least I got that done.

From there I prioritize my goals and obligations always referring back to those four questions if I get stuck on something. If I can’t answer them then I develop an exit strategy and find a way out of a project. That’s right, I am no longer above saying the word “no.”

Recently I did a very difficult thing, I said no to being my daughter’s back stage mommy at her dance recital. As a dance teacher it’s so hard to watch other dance program productions. The Latin dance program here is very successful and well run but no matter what I know I’ll critique everything and go into work mode rather than be a good mommy. I recognize this. The best thing on that day for me to do is to sit in the audience and support my daughter.

See? I can say no! Though my multiple projects do take time away from my writing I find that doing multiple things helps me to be a better writer. I truly never have time or suffer from writer’s block. When I’m writing I’m like a typing ninja on a mission and the words flow from my head. Knowing I have a set time to do it helps me to focus and make the most of every second.

All the dancing I’m doing keeps me healthy, active and helps me feel accomplished. I may not have that book contract yet but everyday I can say I’m running a successful dance business. Other than that I do what I do for my family. To support them and make the community we live in better.

I am an achiever. I do busy well and thrive on a hectic schedule. It also makes me a better and more effective writer, as my time management skills never fail to kick those writing juices into gear.

Do you evaluate your projects? Are you secretly hiding behind excuses and obligations that is hindering your writing career? How do you prioritize and focus your goals.

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