A new year arrives on Thursday and I find myself at a crossroads.
Now, I don’t mean to trivialize problems far greater than mine that others are facing. For me, life is generally good. I mean, come on…look at that cutie on the left (obviously Angus, not me).
But in some seriousness, I’m wondering what is becoming of this ‘writing career’ I’ve been inching toward the past few years.
You may, or may not, have noticed sporadic posts on this blog over the past few months. The birth of a child has been more than a slight detour off Routine Road; it’s been a total loss of pavement, sending me white-knuckled over a field of potholes, ditches and sharp rocks.
And that’s thanks to just one healthy kid! I feel nothing but the utmost admiration for those who have more than one, or whose children have medical issues, and manage to get things done. You people are amazing.
Still, this new priority has entered my life and as I’ve become frustrated in my other endeavors, I’ve had to ask myself, “What’s really important to me now?” I’ve grown tired of beating myself up for not accomplishing everything I’d like to accomplish.
To carry on a cliché: There has to be a better way.
A time management course I took in October gave me the tools to look at the various roles in my life: Dad, Husband, Son, Brother, Friend, Author, Blogger, Engineer, Athlete, Student, and Chef to name a few. The idea was to honestly probe each role in order to determine my goals and discover what matters in one’s life.
As it turns out, a lot of things matter. I want to be an awesome dad, a loving husband, a thoughtful son, a fun brother, and a true friend. I want to become a successful fiction author. I want to regularly blog brilliant words of wisdom. I want to make meaningful contributions at work. I want to fit comfortably in my pants again. I want to read and study “the classics.” I want to give those 10-year-old, souffle-making Masterchefs a run for their money in my own kitchen.
That’s just a sample, but as you’ve figured out by now, there’s not enough time in the day to be really good at all of those things. We mammals require this ridiculous thing called sleep.
Therefore, the question of “What’s really important to me now?” naturally becomes, “What’s really, really important to me now?”
The list becomes smaller at that point. Family will always be #1. The job supporting my family becomes #2. Right now, to do those two things well, seems to require 90% of my time (I’m only counting the time I’m not snoring in bed). The other 10% is enough time to read a chapter or section of a book and take notes, or draft a blog post, or cook a fun dinner, or unwind by playing a game on my tablet.
#1 may get less time consuming with Angus, or more time consuming, as he gets older (the answer seems to depend on who I ask). My hope is that I can implement more automation and delegation for #2, making room for other roles on my list.
So, did you guys catch it yet?
The sharp readers likely noticed “Author” is off the shortlist. Following much thought and consternation, I’ve realized my top two priorities don’t leave me the time required to enter that ‘fictive dream state” required to write a novel at the level of quality of which I’d be satisfied. The planning, researching, outlining, writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, cost more time than I’m willing to pay right now. Those are minutes I can spend playing with Angus, talking with my wife, running errands, cleaning the house on a regular basis, and gaining knowledge through reading and study.
Writing a novel is still a dream of mine and always will be. I can’t wait to chase it again. But I’m no longer going to get down on myself for not giving it the attention it requires.
Of course, things change and only a fool sails against the wind. It will be interesting to see where things lie in the middle of 2015.
I hope you all have a Happy New Year and wish you success in your own goals!