I’m not sure if I’ve let you in on this before or not, but I love lists. Lists, schedules, file folders…I love to feel like I have everything together.
Lately, I’ve been trying the bullet journal thing, and I have to admit it’s made a huge difference. Keeping all my lists in one place and being able to combine my diary entries and daily planner has been a great move. However, this isn’t really what I want to talk about today. At least, not entirely.
Because of my love of a well-defined routine, I decided to set out my blog schedule for 15 months. The idea was to use the time between books to write a ton of posts and schedule them out, so that I wasn’t trying to juggle both parts of my writing life at once.
This worked well for awhile. At the beginning of the year, I wrote 15 or so posts and scheduled them out. I focused on my next book, and it ran like clockwork. Then I stopped writing posts to add to the queue. Now that my book is ready for release, I decided it was time to get out in front of the blog posts again. Until I looked at my schedule.
A few of the ideas no longer felt like a good fit, and even more of them seemed too time consuming. I know I’ll get back to the “harder” ones once my brain has made the shift out of “book mode”, but it still highlights a very common struggle in my life: overestimating what I can do.
One of the things my bullet journal forced me to do was shorten my daily to-do lists. I have my progress trackers for long term goals: daily word count, exercise, guitar techniques I’m working on, and so on. I also have longer lists of various projects I want to tackle and things I must do. This cuts down my daily to-do lists considerably, so that I can focus on two to four things I know need done.
Somehow, I stayed locked into my old blog plan, though, and it seemed to be causing me more grief than necessary.
Today, I was “supposed” to share a short story I’d been working on. Because I’ve been focusing on my impending book release, it obviously didn’t get finished. I still felt that I needed to put something out, so I started this post, hoping I would find something I wanted to say.
And I did.
After thinking about the stress my rigid schedule has caused, I decided to let go of it. Instead, I have a list of possible post ideas that I can pull from. I can still write them in bulk and schedule them out like I have been, but now there’s more room for new ideas. There is also more room to move things around as needed.
The other day, I posted on Facebook that despite the fact that nothing major had happened, I was feeling very blessed. Everything has been humming along rather smoothly lately and I am constantly amazed at how much love fills this house. I can’t help but think that this new shift in my prioritizing has had a big hand in that.
Instead of constantly thinking about all I have to do, I’m focusing on what I can do today. I’m giving myself permission to relax and to let go of the guilt I’ve always felt when I don’t check off every single item on my list. I do what I can and catch up the next day if I need to, which is a big change for me.
I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on getting rid of stress and mental clutter lately, and I have to say, it feels great. I’ve also been trying to focus on using the inevitable stress we all feel to propel me into action, which is tough when you’ve always used it as a reason to avoid something. Reminding myself that doing something now will cause less stress in the long run has really gone a long way.
And that’s the point I want to get at. Never stop looking for a better way. We weren’t meant to spend our lives stressed out to the max or pushing through things that bring us no joy. Sure, there are times we have to do things we don’t necessarily like (scrubbing toilets, anyone?), but we can always change our perception and focus on the payoff instead. And if there is no payoff? We can change our course.
This journey has been incredibly eye-opening. Each and every day I am working towards building the life I had always dreamed of, and I know each one of you can do the same. The trick is to not get discouraged and keep trying new methods until you land on something that works. Don’t fret over what hasn’t worked, or things that have epically failed, just keep charging forward.
Two years ago, I would have told you my dream was to own my own home, to have a happy family, to write full-time, and have time for my music. Today, all of those things are a reality. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some kinks to work out, and the steps towards those goals started many years before that, but we got here. Now it’s time to focus on the details to bring that picture into focus.
I wrote about dreams awhile back and how important it is to have a clear vision of what you want. I still believe that’s true. You need to know exactly where you want to go so that you can create a roadmap. However, sometimes the only way to figure out what you truly want is to start hacking away at the things you don’t want so that it can reveal itself. You also have to be prepared to take the scenic route and get lost a few times along the way.
Have you figured out where you want to go yet? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!