Monday, 25 April 2016

Finding Balance

A very strange thing has been happening these last few months. Something that I can honestly say has never happened before; my day job and life no longer feel like two distinct, separate entities. I have, somehow, created a congruity between the two that has always eluded me.

For as long as I can remember I've always felt a division between what I do for work and my "real" life. In fact even school felt the same way, with time spent in the classroom distinct and separate from my life. That stopped for a time when I was at University but started up again as soon as I started working for a living. Every hour spent at work was an hour deprived from me, an hour where I couldn't focus on my "real" life, preventing me from the things I really wanted. It was hard and ultimately resulted in working for the weekend, for the time you do have to yourself and on your own terms.

I suspect a lot of, even most, people live like this. It's normal for there to be a distinction between "what you do" and "what you want to be". Or at least, it was normal for me - until now.

I've been doing a lot of self-inspection this year, really working out what I want from my day job, where I want it to go. That in turn led me to do the same with my own writing. And I recognised that the lack of progress in both of these zones of my life was down to me not doing two things:

    a) Planning (realistically)
    b) Pushing (myself and others to get things in motion)

So in March I got myself a Passion Planner. I'd learned about them over a year previously but had done nothing about it, putting it off and saying to myself I didn't really need something like that. I was wrong - my Passion Planner forced me to re-assess what I really wanted (something I'd done before a few years ago but hadn't moved forward with) and forced me to see what I was going to have to prioritise and what I'd have to let go of. But I did something I don't think I'd have done in earlier years; I included my day job in my Passion Planner. Suddenly I could see how my day job could help me get the skills I needed for my writing goals and how the writing could in turn help me in my day job. Suddenly the two things were not in competition, they were allies that were going to get me where I wanted to be.

I don't know if this works for everyone. Some day jobs are likely too monotonous or restrictive to offer much in the way of personal development. But I've definitely had a revelation and it's resulted in me prioritising my fiction writing by doing it before work three times a week and setting up a working backward plan for my writing projects (something I have to do in my day job as standard). It also made me include my fitness goals into my life so now I visit the gym in the morning twice a week and have a once a week session with a Personal Trainer (who happens to be my boyfriend, but still). It requires some sacrifices, like getting up earlier, staying at work later, but so far it seems to be working. But the most important part, to me, is that I no longer feel like I'm being pulled in different directions, or being forced to make a choice I don't want to make. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year I can look back and say "this is when it started" when I look back at a writing career. Dreams are where achievements start after all.

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