Look, a Butterfly
Part of my struggle as a writer is that I’m easily distracted by ideas. It’s because of that attention problem that I have so many irons in the fire, or in my case stories in the binder. It has been my battle for years. I have several novels halfway finished as a first draft and the notes to complete them, but another idea grabs my attention and I immediately purchase another notebook, scribbling away even before I have any background completed. The girls believe this is merely my way of buying more writing supplies. However, it truly becomes my butterfly that keeps me from finishing the garden.
Last year, I was able to start to turn it around and focus more. I made some decisions and commitments to myself and others that helped keep me on track and, even with Life tossing in a few speed bumps here and there in an attempt to slow me down, I was able to remain fixated on my goal. I still become distracted once in awhile, but I’m learning gimmicks and tricks to help me keep my eyes on the finish line. Part of that was learning two important things. The first is what I need to be focusing on in order to make my dreams a reality. The second is knowing what to turn a blind eye toward so as not to lose that focus.
I have always made lists. Sometimes I would even look at what I put on them. In the latter part of last year, I began making better use of my lists and keeping them where I would always see them. Post-it Notes have always been my friend, but this year they became a partner. I have them stuck everywhere with lists of projects and projects within projects, To Do lists and further goals. My word count goes on another to later be recorded in my journal and a spreadsheet helps me keep track of my progress. All of this helps me with my goals and pushes me to strive for better numbers and more words.
My calendar has also become a partner, helping me keep track of my time, so that I can make the most of every minute. In order to achieve not only my writing goals, but my family and financial ambitions, as well, I need to be able to see my time, to schedule the lesser things around the more important. I need to be able to say, “No,” to those things that are distractions to my goals instead of stepping stones to reaching them. It also needs to be where I can’t ignore it, placed somewhere prominent. I look at it daily as I set my To Do list and I don’t commit to anything else without first seeing what my Calendar Assistant says.
This process works better if you know what things you need to ignore in order to remain focused. If you’re trying to achieve a financial goal, you need to first see where the money is going. Then, you may need to say no to dinner out with friends in order to make that vital purchase. It’s the same with my writing. Coffee with a friend sounds great, but when I need to be parked on my back porch working on my revisions; it goes from a good thing to a butterfly drawing my attention away from the garden I need to be weeding.
I'm the first to say that sometimes those butterflies are necessary in order to keep us from getting burnt out. If all we ever do with our money is pay bills, we will soon grow bitter at our jobs, never seeing any real reward, just survival. If all we ever do is work without ever taking time to enjoy ourselves with friends, we will grow to despise life. However, the impulses need to be limited if you are ever going to reach your dreams. Sacrifice comes before reward, work before play. I’ve had to turn down some great projects in order to focus on Reaping the Harvest. It’s because I did that last year that I will be able to assist in some this year. Some opportunities may be forever lost, but at the time they had to be on my Ignore List to reach my goals. It’s a matter of choosing the best over the good. It may sadden you to miss out on some things, but the prize at the end is well worth it, and it’s that prize that you truly want.
Many moons ago, I was a paper carrier. The hour of the night sucked, but the solitude and quiet was perfect for the germination of creative ideas. When I first began, the end of my route was a big stretch of A1A on the beach with hundred of dead end roads leading between the beach and the river. I had to go up and down each street tossing those papers while dodging the annoying wild rabbits that loved jumping in front of my car on suicide runs. If I drove from the beginning of that stretch of highway to the end of my route, ignoring the roads I was supposed to take, it took me twenty-five minutes. However, because I took each of those small lanes I wound up being on that stretch for two hours.
Your Ignore List is the same as those dead end streets. They are only delaying you from reaching your dream at the end. For me at the time, it was my bed and sweet slumber. Impulse buys are the equivalent. They delay you; some may even derail you, from reaching your goals.
Butterflies are pretty. Distractions are quite often fun. Yet, to reach your goal, stay focused and then once there, you will have all the time in the world to sit back and enjoy the butterflies as they flutter in the garden you worked so hard to build.
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