I think we’ve all been in situations where we let life take over, and lead us on paths or priorities that aren’t our own. We have thing we’d like to focus more on and do, but we can’t seem to find the time. Sometimes circumstances are to blame, and we have to live in a way that contradicts what we’d rather do. A deadline at work might cut into family time, being a caregiver or having an ill relative may interfere with time to nurture other interpersonal relationships. Unexpected financial downturns can force lifestyle changes that you’d rather not make, but must for the sake of necessity. A personal illness or injury of your own can interfere with everything from chores and errands, to work productivity, to taking you off a diet and exercise routine that you’ve worked hard to establish. As some people I used to work with said, ‘life happens.’ The key is to control what you can, and realizing that these should be temporary circumstances. If that ship has sailed and you still haven’t returned to your priorities, then it’s time to pry yourself out of the rut and change course.
Yes, we get knocked down, but we don’t have to stay down. Rebound is always possible and you might even find that you can carve out time to live your priorities even in the midst of challenges. In fact, the Cognitive-Behavioral course I’m taking through The Great Courses encourages taking time out to do just this daily. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, it’s about finding times and places where we can utilize our time and direct our energy better. And it starts with a single step in the right direction that you can build on in the future.
For example, are you unfulfilled in your job and want a new one, but don’t know where to start? Then do this. Schedule 30 minutes at some point during the day for the following activities. Get up early, stay up a little later, use your lunch hour (but be sure to use your own personal equipment and Wi-Fi!), or turn off the social media or online game. With that 30 minutes:
- Today, update your resume, references, and cover letter.
- Tomorrow, make a list of positions you’re interested in and places you’d like to work. Bookmark them.
- The next day, visit those bookmarks from yesterday and set up an online application to search for jobs. Find out what they require above and beyond the resume, references, and cover letters and get that information together.
- Tomorrow, check the job listings and apply for what looks interesting. Fill out a “job interest” card if they make it available to email you when positions come open (now you don’t have to check back, because they’ll contact you!)
Now two hours of effort over four days have you ready to go when you find a job you’d like to apply for. The preliminary work will be done, and all you have to do is click “apply,” fill out the specific information regarding the position you want, download your updated documents, and you’re done, in probably less than 5-10 minutes! If any of these things take more than the 30 minutes, that’s fine. Just continue the effort during your 30 minute “me” time the next day, if you can’t extend it today.
It’s about steady, directed, engaged efforts to pursue what means the most to you. And this, folks, is how I became an independent author. Of course writing takes a bit more than 30 minutes a day, but even two days of writing a few chapters on my lunch hour or 30 minutes of online time to do book promotion after my workout are fantastic progress that doesn’t interfere with the rest of my day. And automating what I can (like social media posts through Hootsuite, where I can schedule up to 30 messages at a time, or Google keyword notifications on when me or my books are mentioned) make it even easier!
I’ve seen people go from hopeless, depressed ruts to the joy of achieving their dreams in a short amount of time when they made an active decision to stop talking and start doing, and it always starts with the small first steps. So if you’ve fallen off track with resolutions or some other dream, take heart. You can always get back on, and those first steps can be amazing enough to motivate you through the rest of the journey. Talking the talk is one thing, and only temporary encouragement. Walking the walk is another, and it’s powerful motivation to lead to progress, happiness, and joy. Talk can’t do that, but action can.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.