Do you feel as if you’re forever running to catch up and keep up? Is finding any time at all to write a challenge for you?
Over my thirty years of writing, that has been an ongoing challenge. Often the problem was my lack of boundaries in many areas of my life. (The problem is so prevalent that, right now, I’m working on an e-book called “Boundaries for Writers” because I think we need our own set of instructions!)
Maybe you’ve been told you need to simplify your life—choose what really matters—and slow your pace. Great advice!
Reflective Thinking Brings Answers
With all the noise of modern life and the frantic running around, we have little chance to hear the inner whispers and feel the nudges that try to warn us. “Hold on—this isn’t right” or “You really don’t want to do this” or (with me quite often) “Don’t say that!”
Sometimes life gives you the gift of stopping you in your tracks. That has happened to me several times over the years. Once I was surgically wired shut for weeks. A few years ago I ran a fever for eight days and ended up with many sleepless nights to think.
I took stock of my rat-race, anything-but-serene lifestyle, and I was appalled at how I had let “stuff” creep back in and take over my life. I asked myself some hard questions.
Your Personal Answers
If you also want to get off the merry-go-round, take a note pad and jot the answers to these questions pertaining to your own life.
- Why is my life as busy as it is?
- Why have I chosen to commit to so many things?
- What are the costs to me right now of living like this? What are the future costs?
- What tasks/meetings/jobs are no longer necessary? (Only one out of my four cancelled appointments that week needed to be rescheduled. The others, it turned out, weren’t that important.)
- Which activities are things other people thought I should do?
- Which volunteer positions do I no longer enjoy?
- Which professional organizations no longer meet my needs and can be dropped?
That time of reflection was so very profitable. It enabled me to spot three big changes I could make, immediately freeing up about fifteen hours per month.
Should I? Shouldn’t I?
Is your life run according to shoulds (your own or other people’s?) When asked to run a concession stand at your child’s school or attend a make-up or clothing party, do you agree because you feel you should, rather than because you have a real desire to do it? Do you even take time to make a thoughtful decision, or does the should rule?
In a sermon entitled “The Unhurried Life,” my pastor reminded us that “NO is a complete sentence.” In other words, sometimes you can just say no. Or “I’m sorry, but I can’t.” Period. Don’t let people guilt you into doing things you just don’t want to do. They don’t know your schedule, your physical challenges, or that you are already maxed out.
Self-Care, not Selfish
Reassess the value of your time. Is it really more important that you do the volunteer newsletter for your neighborhood association—or that you put that time toward your writing dream? None of us likes to have people mad at us. On the other hand, it may be a price worth paying in order to have a fighting chance to realize your writing dreams.
It might sound like I’m advocating a selfish lifestyle. I’m really not. I volunteer a lot in my church, community, and with my grandkids. BUT I am advocating a sane and sensible lifestyle. You have your time and energy limits, determined by many personal factors. Know what your limits are–and find a way to stick within them.
If you have a favorite boundary-setting idea you’d like to share–especially one that works for you–please do leave a comment.
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