(as seen in Writer’s Digest online September 12th, 2013
I wear many hats. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, an editor, a writer and a friend. I strive for excellence. I do not accept anything less. How do I achieve balance? Through discipline, prioritizing, self-motivation and mercy.
I have 24 in a day and usually allocate eight for sleeping. In order to take care of myself, my family, and my career I must consciously
discipline myself by:
- Being a boss — As a boss, I set schedules for myself. These include how many pages I will edit or write in a day, what chores I must accomplish that day and time needed for cleaning, errands, family and the house.
- Being an employee — As an employee, I follow the guidelines and lists I’ve created for myself. This means, if I hit my page count for editing in a day, I stop. I do not keep going and overwhelm myself in the editing area of my life. I move on to do some housekeeping or take my kids to the pool or edit my client’s books.
- Saying no — This is the single most important part of my discipline. If something doesn’t support my role as a mother, wife or writer, I generally say no. It has to be amazing for me to say yes. This includes excessive use of facebook, tumblr, pinterest and every other social media network. I limit my time on these to a half hour a day.
My goals are to be a good wife, mother and friend and a best-selling author. They all hold equal value for me. One is not more important than the other. In order to build up these facets of my life, I must prioritize through:
- Need — I need to take care of my family, clean the house, take the dog to the park and grocery shop. When I have a writing job, I need to meet my deadlines. When I teach, I need to be prepared for class. I cannot spend the day writing a story or revamping my website if there are no groceries. And I can’t edit all day and forget about dinner.
- Want — I want to hit my goal of 1,000 words a day. I want to write a new story that has been drumming around in my head. I want to take my kids to the zoo. I want to watch a new movie with my husband. My wants are important. They are the parts of my life that keep me going. If I do not make my wants a priority, I become unbalanced and resentful of all those things I need to do.
- Balance — Balance keeps my wants and needs in check. It allows me the freedom to write 1,000 words in a day and forego laundry knowing the next day I can focus on chores. Balance helps me tell my family ‘no’ when I need to meet a deadline and tell myself ‘yes’ when I have a moment of inspiration.
As a novelist without a paycheck or deadlines, it is up to me to create and hit my writing goals. As a web writer working out of the house, it is my responsibility to turn in a high quality project within a deadline. To be self-motivated means:
- Being able to set attainable goals
- Getting on task and remaining on task
- Balancing between the demands of wife, mother, writer and friend
- The ability to say ‘no’ to anything interfering with my goals
- Knowing when I need a break and some me time
It is difficult to go through the task of publishing a book if you are not a self-motivated person. It took me two years to travel down this road. I could have found a million other things to do besides write, edit and submit my manuscript. Many times the distractions are good things, like reading someone’s blog post, but if I spend too much time focusing on them, they won’t help me achieve my goals.
Even with the best intentions, I fail. It is pertinent that I show myself mercy when it comes to my roles in life. I may not always hit my writing goals. I might snap at my kids or not have dinner ready on time. I may need a break to have some coffee with a friend. My husband may want to watch a movie and I feel like I should have edited that day. In any case, there are times when I need to make a choice that goes against everything else in this post. It is during those times, that I need to show myself mercy. Otherwise, what’s the point in doing any of this? If I’m stressed out, failing at everything, or worse, excelling in one area alone, I have missed the mark and forgotten what life is about.
The final road
I am a good wife, mother and friend, a published novelist, a web content writer and a teacher-tutor. I spend each day striving at excellence in each of these areas. Some days require me to spend more time in one place than another. But in the end, I feel whole. I will always face difficulties. The road will always be bumpy. It is when I look back upon my life and ask, “Did I do everything I could have? Did I make every moment count?” that I hope I can answer, “Yes.”