A month ago I wrote about the “Tug of War in Finding Balance.” “Doing our best has limits,” says Richard Swenson, author of Margins. “Our rush toward excellence in one quadrant of life must not be permitted to cause destruction in another.” Those who go “all out” for success in one area – even writing – risk failure in other important areas of life.
The tug of war happens when we are trying to be excellent in so many roles: writers, parenting children and grandchildren, caring for elderly parents, neighbors, church members, and more. It can be overwhelming!
From Stuck to Unstuck
The sense of being overwhelmed can quickly solidify into being stuck. Enter a lovely little book called Simple Acts of Moving Forward: 60 Suggestions for Getting Unstuck by Vinita Hampton Wright. As she says, when you have too many things on your plate, “Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to just not care so much about how something will turn out.”
It’s all right to set your own priorities. It’s all right not to care about some things–no matter WHO thinks you should (including me). Why? Because if you care deeply about everything, you’ll burn out now and live an exhausted life.
And exhausted writers have a terrible time writing.
All on Your Shoulders?
Sometimes we feel like everything is up to us. Usually it really isn’t. Even with those projects or jobs that are totally up to you, they may not really need to be done (like kids’ big birthday parties.) Or they can be done with help (like moving it to McDonalds). Only you can decide what things really matter to you.
As Ms. Wright says, “You can decide what is most important, what is next in importance, what you can take or leave, and what has nothing to do with you. Others may think you should care, but it’s not their job to decide what your priorities should be.” (This includes your writing! NO ONE else gets to decide where it belongs on your list of priorities!)
What To Do?
What can you do if you’re sinking under responsibilities that choke out your writing time? Ms. Wright advises, “If you are overwhelmed, find one thing to stop caring about and stop caring right now.”
If you’re brave, leave a comment and tell us one thing you’re going to stop caring about–or at least caring so much about. [I'll start: right now I am going to stop caring about a party I need to go to tomorrow night--what to wear, finding someone to talk to, how to leave early...you introverts know what I mean!]