One of the frustrating things about blogging, doing a daily challenge, or any other kind of a hobby is finding the time to do it. For me, an additional problem is not be miserably tired so I can actually enjoy the process of doing something creative.
The author, Iris Murdoch, once said:
But for most of us the space between ‘dreaming on things to come’ and ‘it is too late, it is all over,’ is too tiny to enter.
The goal then, is to lengthen that space. Here are some specific things that help me do that:
- Identify what my priorities are
- Figure out what I’m willing to give up to make them happen
- Ask for help and support
- Do it
Identify my priorities – this is where writing out goals in January and September help me. I list everything I think I might want to do. I look for patterns where I’ve written the same thing several different ways as that is a often a sign something is important to me. I look for repeat goals that I’m not getting done and consider whether to drop the goal or finally get it going. Finally I pick several to start with and adjust my goals as needed because either my priority did not bring satisfaction, the timing was better for a different goal, or I accomplished it and did not wish to pursue it further.
Blogging by Amy recently had a good article that setting goals is not enough; we also need to set sacrifices. If we don’t it deliberately, it will happen by default. Which leads to the next point. . .
Give up something - to meet my goals, I usually have to give up something to have the time. If I cannot, then I have to live with not accomplishing my goals. And some years, that is my reality. Then I try to give up the goal(s) without whining. To blog, I’ve given up my personal journals and a fair amount of my reading time. In exchange for my photography, I no longer needlepoint. I love my reading and I love my needlepoint, but I’ve done plenty of both and want my public writings and photography to be a priority at this time.
Ask for help and support - this one is hard. I am blessed to have a husband who does his share of work around the house. We’re paying to get the lawn mowed this year and in exchange, he’s taken over cooking and grocery shopping for me. When I asked him to do this, I pointed out that I could not be out wandering on the weekends, plus do laundry, bills, and cleaning AND the cooking too. He agreed and took this from me. My house cleaning is spotty and he is fine with that too.
Do it - it is so easy to come home from work and just vegetate. But I have to sit and write my blog posts. I have to take my walks during lunch to get those pictures. If I want other objects of attention for my camera, I have to get out of the house and go take them whether the local botanical gardens or going up to West Virginia for a long weekend. Doing something, even if only a short while a few nights each week, is much better than doing nothing. Momentum is a great help also; once I get going it’s easier to keep going.
I recently read an interview with the author, Darlene Foster. In it, she said that she wrote for two hours a day, including marketing and research. She sets attainable goals such as completing one chapter a month. Even with her modest goals, she’s published two children’s books already! I was in awe of her accomplishments. I might not be able to write for two hours every night, but I bet I could do a chapter a month.
So put together a plan and start acting on it. Adjust it if needed. If you fail, get up and try again. If you succeed, enjoy your accomplishments. Keep with it.
As for me, I started consistently keeping my blog in early 2011. I now have almost 400 entries to my blog. I took over 10,000 photographs last year, in addition to all the earlier ones that I either took or scanned. It took discipline last year to sit and write those blog entries and to take pictures every day. But I look back now at the accomplishments of a year – ONE YEAR – and I think, wow! Look at what I did.
But if I didn’t show up, it never would happened.
There is an unattributed quote in the photography world that says,
F8 and be there.
Its meaning is that you will miss 100% of the shots you aren’t ready to take. F8 is an average camera setting that reliably produces good results when there is no time to think or react.
So the next time you think of skipping your blog, taking a break from a challenge, or giving your hobby a rest, remember this – you will miss 100% of the things you do not do.
[Parts of this were originally posted on Living The Seasons on November 15, 2011.]