goals

Making the Most of Spare Time

the-secret-to-getting-ahead-is-getting-started

I’ve recently quit my full time job, gone part time 2 days a week in another role and plan on using my 5 remaining days to get back into what I really enjoy; writing. That, and figuring out what I’m doing with my life. I can tell you though, walking away from a job when there is nothing concrete I was walking to, is simultaneously one of the most exciting, liberating and frightening things I have done in life. I was safe in the knowledge that freedom and potential were worth far more to me at that point than job security and a steady income (reading that sentence back it sounds insane, but it’s the truth). It was a big decision, a tough decision, and not one for everyone. I had hit a point where I had to get out; explore, learn, apply, fail and fail again, until I reach whatever it is I’m looking for. Like it or not, this new freedom brought with it 2 choices; I could chose to drown in it, become lazy and see my free time as an excuse not to leave the covers of my bed for days on end or, I could chose to be proactive with it, to work hard and use my time productively. Of course, I chose the second option. But being productive is far easier said than done. And in the middle of July, of winter, my bed covers seem to be calling my name very loudly. I had to come up with a plan; a check list of things to get done each day to keep me on track. I am great at following a plan previously put in place. Give me a uni syllabus, a work procedure manual, and I’ll smash it. But come up with a plan on my own, for myself, when I’m still figuring out what I’m even doing? This was new. It’s been a struggle to the point where I realised the hardest part was getting started. I thought that breaking things down into small, achievable goals was how you reached the final destination. That’s all well and good when you have a final destination. When you are without, sometimes the best thing you can do is jump in head first and let the planning come later. For me, my plan took on a slightly different look;

  1. Practise. Practise writing as often as I can about whatever I can, even if it isn’t very good. Practise.
  2. Research. Read up on topics of interest from all sources, all authors. Make notes on what is useful and apply it, question what is not. Do this until your brain explodes with knowledge and new opportunities unveil themselves.

With this altered plan, I am moving towards an effective use of all my free time.

Pusher

There are people in your life who are there to push you. Push your boundaries, push your abilities. We all need these people; they help us to grow, they encourage us to achieve, they give us someone to report back to. Sometimes, when we are the sole stakeholder in the production, outcome and reward of a task, it can be hard to carry through with it. If we aren’t answering to anyone, if no one else is relying on us to get it done, if the only person affected is yourself, it’s easy to rationalise that this task is less pressing than others.

Sometimes this is true – tasks for your actual job, you know, the one that pays the bills, should come before your hobbies. But if we constantly push aside our own personal goals in favour of things ‘more pressing’ then we are essentially assigning less value to those personal goals. We are subconsciously saying they are less important. And your own goals should never fall into a category labeled ‘less important’. Having someone checking in on you and pushing you on your personal goals means you have something to answer to. It means you’re more likely to get it done. More likely to accomplish.

There are a few people who push me like this, one who stands out in particular. And I couldn’t be more grateful for it. Sometimes I don’t want to be pushed, sometimes I feel like it’s too much, like I’m being hassled. But at the end of the day, I am always grateful more than anything else. I wouldn’t get all my stuff done if it wasn’t for someone pushing me. I need that person to help me in an area where I fall short.

The problem is, I am scared. I am so terribly frightened of putting any personal goal into action even slightly because it means I’ve started. I’ve taken the first baby step to try and achieve something. And only when you try is there the possibility to fail. It’s the possibility to fail that scares me. When you’ve got in your mind an idea of what you want out of life, of what will make you happy, there are 2 key things that can shatter that idea. The first is that you try to achieve it and fail. The second is that you do achieve it, but it isn’t what you thought it would be. It’s very possible that the second scares me more than the first.

So, if you don’t try you can’t fail. There is no fear. But here’s the kicker; you also can’t succeed.

Resolution

It is the 6th day of 2014 and I have no idea how that happened. People always say they don’t know where the time goes but my 2013 disappeared quicker than a can of opened Pringles (those things are lethal, I recommend never opening one on your own). I feel like I’ve been busy for the past year. That’s probably because I have been. This post was meant to go up 7 days ago. The fact that I haven’t had time to write it until now is proof as to the very reason I need to do so.

I am not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. I believe that if you don’t like something, you should change it. There and then. You don’t need a new year to make new beginnings. This year, however, I do have a resolution (let’s just say the timing worked out for it). My 2013 flew by because I was moving all the time. There was always something on. I became a stranger to my own home. I was hardly ever there.

I’ve always had a lot of different people in my life, friends from different circles. This, I believe, is an important part in leading a good life. It does, however, also happen to be a bit of an imposer on your time. It chews it up with dinner parties, catch up coffees, movie nights, sleepover nights, cocktail nights, party nights… Managing a social life can sometimes seem like a task in itself. We are taught to invest time in the people we care about, however last year I ran out of time for myself. Considering how invested I am in that relationship, I realised I need to make more time for it.

So, in 2014, I am going to be selfish with my time. I am going to put myself first. I am going to dedicate 2 nights a week to myself. One of these nights will be to get shit done. You know, all the little things, the mundane tasks that keep life plodding along one day at a time. I’m going to use one night to sort my shit out. The second night, I am going to use to get what I most want in this world. I’m going to use it to chase my dream.

Dreams are wonderful things to have, except when you want to make them a reality. Real life is difficult, and overcoming everything that is holding you back from your dream becoming reality is also difficult. It appears 2014 might be a bit of a difficult year for me. But, if I can use it wisely, it might also be the year my life starts.