In the last few days I’ve received notes from several on my mentoring list who are aflutter at not meeting their goals. They’re concerned about the loss of momentum and redirected focus. They’re resenting the “intrusion” of other things forcing them to rearrange schedules.
I titled this post, Priorities During the Holidays, but the truth is, my advice on the matter would be the same regardless of the time of year.
In 1997, my mother (who lived with me and my family) was in the hospital for six months. I had just finished my first Vicki Hinze book and was on a tight deadline for the second one. Most of my days and nights were spent in the ICU and CCU waiting rooms or in hospital rooms during that time. I wrote the book at the hospital, but writing that book was not my priority. Caring for my mother was my priority.
In the last three months, a lot has been happening on the career front. Signature/Bombshell imprints down, changes in professional alliances, the TV series option, requests for lectures on the writing/teaching and radio fronts increasing at a rate I just can’t keep up. It’s been wild without writing a thing–and I’m working on five major projects.
I’ve also had the pleasure of welcoming two new grandchildren into my world, which makes everything else insignificant. I care for one of the children while mom teaches, which means I also get to spend an hour or so a day with the eldest grandchild as well as with the newcomer. The net effect is full-time, plus an hour or two, on school days. Now that rearranges your schedule.
Totally my choice–and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The babies are my priority. Chosen because of all that is in my life, they and their parents most matter. My family most matters and, to me, this “work” is significant.
So I guess my points are these:
1. The more things change (1997 to 2006, now and then, mother to grandchildren,), the more they stay the same. Things in life created a need/desire to shift priorities then, and do now. You can love or hate the shifts, but you have to deal with them. You’ll have an easier time of that if you’re flexible and approach the shift in a positive manner.
2. Life is what happens in the “intrusions.” Being resentful of the things that divert your attention is not seeing the bigger picture of your life. Being flexible is far healthier and actually gives you more fodder and a deeper creative well.
Shifts happen for many reasons, and some actually do have to do with the work. On many occasions, I’ve been about to take off down a specific path in a book, experienced a delay in the writing for one or another reason, and something has happened that altered the path of the writing. Some event changed my insight. Some remark overheard or repeated to me changed my view and altered the course I wanted to take. Some new knowledge came to me–often through a disconnected source–that in my mind, slammed a door and opened a window.
Regardless of how the insight/information came, it did come and it did change the nature of the work. The work was stronger for it, but without that shift that delayed the work, the book would have been different. It wouldn’t have–couldn’t have–reached its full potential.
So rather than resent those delays or changes, embrace them. They provide the avenue through which you can receive those treasured insights that make the work better and stronger. And when you experience a shift, or a delay that alters your schedule, flex, adapt and keep your eyes open. Something you need to see is about to come onto your personal radar.
While November is typically (and has been for years) my personal re-evaluation month, this year, two new grands have altered that aspect of my schedule, too. So that will come in December this year. No doubt that delay too will prove that many of the professional changes occurring of late needed to be considered in the planning for next year. In the long run, the delay will give things time to settle in and cause fewer alterations (and the need to be flexible) next year.
I will be posting the annual Goals post soon for those who’ve gotten used to doing that in November. Probably next weekend–unless life intrudes. 🙂
I hope your Thanksgiving was as terrific as ours and the holidays are proving to be all you hoped for and more! Several in our extended family are joining us and I’m so looking forward to that. Some are having a little challenge getting in the spirit with it being 70 degrees. Frankly, I’m thrilled. I don’t have to look for my coat! I think I wore it a year ago . . . or was it two years ago?