Last Friday I wrote about my goals, and priorities* which, Benjamin Hardy argues, are paramount to becoming unstoppable. I followed his advice and listed the things I do every day in order to ascertain, by my behaviour, what my priorities are, and came to a tentative conclusion that my goals and priorities are, if not identical, certainly twins. My life goals are somewhat broad – as well as aiming at earning a living from my writing and being the kind of wife D needs, I want to contribute to a world that is healthy and positive for everything in it – but I think they all compliment each other pretty well. They are all about being happy: making enough to live on from my writing would vastly expand my happiness; a happy D is definitely a happy me; but the current socio-political climate with its emphasis on alienation and othering is like a huge puncture in my happy-balloon. Thirty seconds of news and I descend rapidly from the cloud of joyful writing to the concrete car-park of despair. So I do what I hope is a useful amount of community work.
Call me naive, but I believe that nature and beauty engender happiness; that happiness is contagious, and that if everyone were genuinely happy no one would have any desire to cause pain and distress to others. So my voluntary work is an attempt to increase the happiness in the town in which I live, in the hope it spreads outward. Most of the time this fits snuggly with my writing and wifing, but this week it dominated. Thus, my daily activities altered, and my priorities shifted. Not because writing became less important, I still forced myself to work on my weekly story at the end of the day, and D certainly wasn’t sidelined**, but some things I thought paramount last week – journalling, reading, sleep, poetry – dissolved.
If last week had looked like this week, last Friday’s post would have been quite different. My daily to-do lists have consisted mostly of organising and marketing a Community Council event, ensuring I’m absolutely au fait with town planning, researching effective ways to engage and empower everyone in the community, and preparing for a woodland volunteer day. It would have appeared that the most important things in my life were traffic signalling, old buildings, sandwiches, raffle prizes, poster design, and other such non-literary things. So examining the seventh behaviour on Hardy’s list of thirty: Eliminate all non-priorities has taken on quite a different shape. One might even call it gibbous!
I’ve been reminded that life, even mine, is more complex than such articles as How to Become Unstoppable allow. I could, I suppose, and some artists do, ignore the outside world and merely focus on my work. But I’m not that self absorbed, and I don’t want to be that selfish. So, the question seems to be: how do I prioritise for both my writer-wife life, and my socially responsible one, and still succeed as a writer? I think the trick is to be flexible. Know what I want; know that’s more complicated than just writing, and allow myself to be blown slightly off the writing course from time to time. But, and this is important, never lose sight of the ultimate goal. So, to get back to Hardy’s thirty behaviours to make me unstoppable, how am I doing with behaviour seven?
Eliminate all non-priorities
This is how Hardy says he does it:
As a rule, I only invest my time in things that add to my present experience and my future. Thus, I invest time in relationships that I plan to have forever, like with my family and friends. I invest time in my education and growth. I invest time on work I believe in. I invest in experiences that create profound memories.
What do you invest time in?
Is this investment making your future better than your past?
Oddly, even though I feel a bit off track this week I feel I do, and have done, all of these things. Yes, I haven’t invested my time in reading and writing as much as usual, but the things I have been doing do add to my present experience***, and my future. If nothing else I’m gathering a lot of material to write about. It has been educational, and, though I may feel slightly wizened as I write this, it should lead to growth. I believe in the stuff I’ve done over the last few days, even the sandwich making, and, if things go to plan, experiences that will create profound memories should arise.
I feel better for merely writing that! That I have been somewhat overwhelmed by distractions from my art hasn’t meant I’ve been distracted from my core priorities. Phew!
I said last week that this week I’d also look at becoming more playful, and creating more peak experiences. But I’ll have to leave that till next week, playfulness hasn’t got a look in this week, and I haven’t had a minute to even work out what a peak experience is. Onwards and upwards!
*Amongst other things.
**Though you may want to ask him.
***You could argue that everything does that, of course, but I’d suggest lying in front of the t.v. for great swathes of time doesn’t.
Header image: Pinterest