Well, today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Of course, there are purists out there (and they have every right to it as long as they are indeed pure to the idea of equality of races). I believe that Dr. King would also be in the corner of those seeking more out of their individual lives. He would be incredibly appreciative and supportive of people of any race who look to get more out of life and to better care for their family in a way that best works.
So, what's your dream? If you're on this blog then my guess is that at least to some degree you want to be a freelance writer. However, this blog post isn't just written for those who want to make a living by peddling their words and thoughts. I'm talking to all the dreamers. I'm talking to those who want to go back to school. I'm talking to those who want to recover from past hurts. I'm talking to those who want to take on a new career (even if it isn't writing). Now, with your dream firmly in your head...let's discuss.
Turn the Dream into a GoalMy grandmother was an incredibly wise woman. My mother would tell you that I act just like my paternal grandmother. They didn't get along, but I consider it a compliment. My Grandma Rita was and still is my hero. She only had an eighth grade education. She survived the Great Depression. She was a single mom when her first husband left. She worked as a nurse's aid to support her children. I remember when I was little how she would do whatever it took to make sure my very odd childhood was as normal as it could be for its circumstances. That meant when I stayed with her I got chocolate milk and chocolate donuts for breakfast (both of which I hate - but dammit the woman tried so I ate them).
She bought me empty notebook after empty notebook. I drew. I wrote. I scribbled. I did it all while sitting at her feet as she crocheted or watched her soap operas. She would color with me. She would even grade my work (when I asked).
My grandma taught me one thing early in life. You turn your dreams into a goal by learning to be accountable. One way to do that is to assign your dream a date of completion. Now your dream is a goal.
Take Action Toward Your GoalLook, if you're an adult with family responsibilities...I totally get how you feel overwhelmed and think you can't accomplish your dreams. I started college on a whim (yes, on a whim) when I was 28. Man, it doesn't seem that long ago. I stayed up many nights while working full time and caring for my family. It was hard, but I graduated in 3 years with a four year degree.
When I was building my writing business (which was another dream that turned into a goal because of a medical issue), I started it by doing things on the side while teaching college. When I started writing full time, I still hadn't built up my business to exactly where it needed to be to comfortably make the leap (but sometimes we do things because they must be done and we make the best of it).
Moral: there are things you can do right now to move toward your goal even if you are working and have other obligations. They don't have to be huge steps or actions...but to get to a goal - you do have to put one foot in front of the other.
Use the Mundane to Fuel YouI do most of the housework. Bull doesn't...but it's not because he's some jerk who thinks that because his wife works from home that she has time for the housework. If I need help or even if he thinks I need help, he helps. He knows that mundane activities serve a purpose for me. When I'm doing a load of laundry or a load of dishes he knows that I'm using that time to focus on my projects and set my priorities. I can't do that if I'm sitting in front of the computer. As much as I wanted to write this, I have my priorities nagging at the back of my mind telling me this is a waste because it's not part of the 20% of activities that make money. Yet - this is important.
I use my time to figure out three things that must get done every day. I choose three because it's a number that isn't overwhelming. I don't usually stop with three things, but if I have to then it gives me a sense of completion. Yes, it can be hard to choose those things. I finalize my list in the morning while doing my stuff.
Letting your mind wander and consider the steps it will take to finish your projects is key to success. It doesn't have to be dishes and laundry for you. Just find something you can do where you can think, but not wear yourself out doing it. Think in small steps. Ask yourself what is one small thing that you can do today that will bring you one more step closer to your goals.
Find something mundane to indulge in. I say that because for us creative types, it can be hard to focus on what's in front of us when we are on our laptops or computers. We might get overwhelmed when we think about everything that needs to be done and how we are actually doing something. Don't do that. Step away.
Now that this post is written, I'm going to go tackle my three daily priorities (or as we call them - my Irish bulls).