Spoiler alert: you can’t…
This is my first post in a while, because I have been attempting to do ALL THE THINGS and have inevitably only accomplished SOME OF THE THINGS and something’s gotta give.
Prioritizing has always been an issue for me. (See Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C.) I’m not sure if it’s my indecisiveness, my FOMO, the way my brain has a tendency to go in 25 different directions on any given day, or what.
But it’s a problem.
As a rule, I try and follow this life lesson:
Pick 3 things you want. If any of these conflict with one another, that’s a problem.
I can’t remember where I read this, but it’s made sense to me. My 3 things are and have always been:
- I want to be as healthy as I can (mentally and physically)
- I want to have good, close relationships with the people I love and see them as often as I can.
- I want to be a writer.
These things don’t necessarily conflict with each other; but they do in some ways conflict with all the next-best things I want and am working towards at the moment, which are:
- I want a steady income (which I have, yet my current job saps away my time for friends and writing, ad also affects my mental energy and occasionally my health)
- I want a beautiful wedding (the planning of which is sapping away my writing time + the anxiety over whether or not it will go well is bringing me stress, which is affecting my health)
- I want a freelance career (so I don’t need a steady paycheck anymore, yet attempting to establish said career given my limited time is also bringing me stress + taking away my book-writing time)
- I want a beautiful home (which right now is an apartment which I’m still attempting to properly decorate but someday we’re going to have to start figuring out where to buy a house and all that fun stuff, which is time-consuming)
- I want to improve the world (by getting more involved in politics + donating a percentage of my income to people who need it. Which requires time + that steady income I wanted so I can always give)
So right now I am: working 45-50 hour weeks, interviewing for other full-time jobs because mine has really started to blow, attempting to finish my second novel, working with 2 critique partners on their manuscripts, planning a wedding, working with 2 freelance clients, planning to start a business with a friend of mine, trying to lose weight before said wedding by exercising + meal planning, trying to redecorate my apartment, trying to still make time for nights out with friends, trying to get involved in local politics … is that all? Oh, trying to keep up with this blog. And plan a future that will involve a house and children at some point.
All of these are worthwhile pursuits.
But I’m exhausted.
That’s when I have to remind myself of the other life lesson I’ve taken to heart:
“Take what you want and pay for it.”
I’ve written about my favorite book of all time before, because there are so many things to love about it, but this remains the most pertinent to me:
“Regardless of what the advertising campaigns may tell us, we can’t have it all. Sacrifice is not an option, or an anachronism; it’s a fact of life. We all cut off our own limbs to burn on some altar. The crucial thing is to choose an altar that’s worth it and a limb you can accept losing. To go consenting to the sacrifice.”
I think I’ve lost sight of this in the past few months. For some reason, I thought, I can have it all if I just TRY HARDER.
But I can’t. I can have some things. But that means giving up other things.
So what can I give up?
Writing this all out has (as usual) given me clarity.
Right now, the idea of quitting my job and not getting another full-time one has never been more appealing. I have some other small income sources at the moment, I think I could get more if I just had more time to find them, and if not, I have some savings to fall back on. It would give me time to write, plan, exercise, freelance, sleep.
But I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of the loss of income. Afraid of the loss of structure. Afraid of the opinions of my parents, my peers. Afraid of what the future without a full-time job will look like. Afraid I would be making a horrible mistake.
There’s no conclusion to this post. I don’t know what I should do, or what I’m going to do.
I know you may not know me and it’s a decision I need to make for myself, but I’m desperate, so: what do you think?
Image of how I feel right now (like a lost little girl thinking real hard or maybe on the verge of bursting into tears) found here
12 thoughts on “How To Do All The Things”
I can relate so much to this. I actually took a decision this week that I still feel very bad for and that makes me feel like a failure: I cancelled a seminary I was supposed to be holding Thursday and Friday, because I felt that I just couldn’t make it. It’s been really tough at work, I hadn’t had time to go through my course yet, I had to pack for the whole family for a three-week vacation, prepare the vegetable garden for the off-time, clean the house, and and and… oh yes and there came a huge problem with one of the holiday bookings, just on top. It drove me crazy. It drove me insane to know that I was messing it all up by trying to do everything, to manage it all. Ah yes, and I had put the deadline on myself to send in my novel to agents this week as well, you know, just to create a little additional pressure. And it’s what I try to tell myself so often, that I can’t do it all and can’t have it all. I don’t have the solution to your problem, but I really feel for you. I’ve got a great job that I’m not doing to my own satisfaction right now because I’m consumed by my writing dreams. I’m doing a very bad job at exercising and eating healthy, and thus making my body simply collapse when it’s the worst timing. I think some of the thoughts expressed in the preceding comments are not bad at all, just like taking one’s time and pursue one objective after the other, and to create a timeline. To write down what you want to reach in the following 12 or 24 months, or in five years. I did that with my writing, and although it most certainly never will amount to anything close to success, I don’t care that much. I’ve completed 3 novels, the first 2 quite bad, but the third already feels much better. I didn’t just sit back and think : nah, no use spending time on a dream like that, but I actually wrote those books. Things are possible, but they might take some time. Take your goals, put a timeline on them and then cut it down into portions that are actually realistic, small tasks and goals that look achievable within your current workload. (would be good if I could one day listen to my own advice!). Good luck with everything!
Here’s the thing: I relate to this so damn much.
A year ago, I was living in New York City and I was SO OVER the daily grind and how it took away from everything I truly wanted – spending time with people and writing, specifically. The opportunity presented itself for me to quit my day job, move out to the middle of nowhere with the love of my life, and just chill and work on doing what I love.
It hasn’t been perfect, but I do think that sometimes, it’s good to get some perspective. I got to a point where I missed working for a paycheck (something I never thought I’d say), but I don’t regret my choice to get out of the rat race, even though it was temporary.
I really hope things get better for you. I hope you’re able to get clarity and decide what the best path is for you. 🙂
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Middle of nowhere would be nice, but I do like being close to so many friends and family here in our high-cost-of-living state … thank you for your kind words!
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It has its ups and downs. As relaxing as it was at first, I soon realized that it’s a lot harder to make friends when you live in a town of 1000 people. I’ve been far away from my family for about 5 years as well, and that’s definitely becoming harder for me as time goes by.
Ultimately, though, I’m a fan of doing things that others might think are “not a good idea” or not practical. I think challenging ourselves is the best way to see just how capable we are of achieving things we might once have thought were beyond our grasp. Being without a job definitely helped me get more in touch with myself: what I want from my life and what I don’t. One of my friends went through something similar, and she told me, “it’s the adjustment of the decade, but it will be so good for you.” It’s ultimately your decision, but I wish you the best of luck and hope you find what works for you. ❤
My favorite motto for my life is “Women can have it all, they just can’t have it all at once.” Hence I had a 21 year military career, then retired and had my son. Because I always knew if I had children I wanted to be a stay at home Mom. So I was patient and did things in my own order and trusted everything to work out the way it was supposed to. And it has, so far.
What does your heart tell you? Your head has a plan, a logical well-thought out plan it seems. Now you need to listen to your heart/gut. I would bet your biggest fear is you quit your “full-time” job and still don’t have time/energy to write but end up scrambling around trying to make money. Make sure you have a realistic budget to help you plan.
Maybe you could make a timeline? Look at the next year and plan it out a bit. Over the course of time your top 3 will change. Just because you set a goal aside for right now does not mean you are giving up on it, you are just waiting for the right time.
Really listen to your gut, it is always right. And there is nothing wrong with trying something (say freelancing) for a few months and then learning it is not the right thing, at least for right now. it can be painful but you can always start over. I hope this helps.
That’s a really good way of putting it. Thank you!
I think all writers would love to give up the day job – if you think you could manage, why not give it a go and see? You can always go back if it doesn’t work out.
Thinking about it….