If you’re anything like me, you love to have a good plan. You like setting up goals for yourself and dreaming about the kinds of things you want to accomplish. You have big ideas about the possibilities of your future.
This can be a great thing. We should push outside of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves, and refuse to accept mediocrity. We need goals, we need to have achievements, and we should be purposeful in how we spend our time, our days, and our lives.
But there is a such a thing as too much. And sometimes, by always focusing on the future, and doing everything we can at every second of the day to reach a lofty future goal, we drain ourselves dry and forget everything we ever knew about enjoyment and peace.
I had one of those moments recently. I received the syllabi for both classes, and was immediately confronted with the overwhelming amount of reading and the massive papers required every week. This followed an evening where I had sat down to plan out my writing goals: what I wanted to achieve, the myriad steps I would take to finish various things, revise others, and send still others out on submission. In addition to this, I’m trying to get back into regular exercise, and was incorporating some big goals about what I was going to do, and what things I wanted to participate in and be capable of at certain times down the road. And it was altogether too much.
I read a quote recently that someone posted on Twitter, which said essentially that there will always be more and bigger things, so the best thing to do is simply buckle down and focus on that day’s work. Just that day, then the next, and then the next. Each thing in it’s time and season.
It’s easy to say, and much more difficult to do. We, especially as writers, tend to be dreamers and schemers. It’s part and parcel of being creative, that desire to do and have and be everything all at once, to embrace the world in its entirety. But it will wear you out. And you will become overwhelmed and discouraged, and perhaps been dissuaded from chasing after your goals.
Long-range goals are an excellent place to begin. It isn’t always a great idea to meander round aimlessly for too long- if you don’t go in any particular direction, you probably won’t get to any particular place. But I encourage you, after you establish those goals, to break them down by the month, then the week, then the day. Take a glance at where you are and a glance at where you’re going. Then buckle down, lower your head, and do the work that is closest to you. Complete that task. Celebrate it! Enjoy each achievement, be proud of what you do each day- those words and sentences don’t always come that easy!
Take time to enjoy the process, without wishing you were further along. Each season of a project has its own way of teaching you and helping you grow. Do this enough days, and at some point you’ll lift your head and realize that that massive goal, once very far away, is much closer than you would have dreamed. And you’ll enjoy the journey there to boot.