(Originally posted on The Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blog on October 7, 2015.)
Finding the balance between doing what you have to do and what you want to do is one of the biggest challenges of adulthood, especially when you’re raising kids. For example, my husband and I have to work forty hours a week each to afford the lifestyle we live – and, though I don’t feel like it some days, it’s totally worth it. We have a beautiful home in a quiet neighborhood. Our children go to good schools. We both receive fulfillment from our day jobs and contribute to the betterment of our respective organizations.
But let’s talk about the word ‘fulfillment’ for just a sec, m’kay? Because there are levels to it.
On one hand, I take great pride in what I do for a living. It pays the bills and gives me a chance to interact with adults on a daily basis (a double-edged sword, I’ll admit). It fulfills me to know my work helps to sustain my family unit. So there’s that level.
On another plane is the type of fulfillment that feeds your soul – passion. For me, that passion is writing (although lazing away with my Kindle is a close second). When I first started self-publishing less than a year ago, I never imagined it would become such a vital part of me. It was just me, banging out words on a laptop (much like I’m doing right now). But now, I rarely go a day without writing something: a chapter for a current project, a logline for a future one, a plot revision, a blog entry. If I’m not writing, I’m reading about writing. I’m learning about the technique of writing fiction or how to create effective marketing prose to push my book sales. Whether it’s an hour or five minutes, I try to jot down something that will later become something bigger (fingers crossed). It’s ingrained in me.
A question I get often is, ‘Where do you find the time?’ or I get the ‘You are so busy!’ exclamation. I am just as busy as any other mother shifting through life and I have just as many hours in the day. Somedays, I have to forgo writing for larger obligations but I can count on less than one hand the aspects of my life that are more important than writing. That’s what passion does; it forces you to reassess your priorities. Of course, my health, my family, and my income take precedence (yeah, I’m not one of those people who doesn’t appreciate the value of a hard-earned dollar – run me my money!). My passion follows – the need, the urgency to write compels me. Thus, I’ve been forced to create a Passion Plan.
Simply put, a Passion Plan helps me to balance my real-life duties (the have-tos) with my calling (my only want-to). It’s never written in stone, as the demands of life cause it to ebb and flow. Instead, I rely on three rules of thumb to keep my Passion Plan afloat – no matter what variation it manifests itself in:
• Don’t find the time – make the time: Think about your passion. Got it? Good. Now tell me why you aren’t pursuing it. It’s normal to make excuses for not pursuing our passions: We’re tired. We’re busy. There’s no time. There is time – but what are you willing to sacrifice to make it? Let’s say your passion is knitting. You may not be able to find the time to go to a two-hour knitting circle after work, but can you make the time to email a few stitch-loving coworkers and ask them to meet for a knitting lunch once a week? If your passion is yoga, can you set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier to start your day with a few sun salutations? The time is there. Make it.
• Embrace your village: The great thing about having a passion is that the VIPs in your life want to help you support it. Your loved ones want you to be happy so tell them what would make you happy. Maybe it’s leaving the kids in your husband’s hands while you take an evening course on vegan cuisine or asking your kids to pitch in on chores to allow you time to train for an upcoming 5K. Let people help you. We refuse the assistance of others in our lives habitually. There’s no shame in asking for space and time to pursue a greater version of yourself. Those that love you will even offer it – don’t reject it!
• Run your race: I run (and by ‘run’, I mean barely keep pace with a half-dead snail) from time to time and one thing I had to teach myself was to run my own race. Be where you are with your passion. Don’t compare your Chapter One with someone else’s Chapter Twelve. It’s important to remember this, especially if your passion is measurable. For instance, your passion for fitness may be shared by another health-conscious friend who has managed to make greater gains (or losses, depending on your goal) than you. The second you begin to feel jealous, turn that envy into motivation. Remember what your targets are and why you set them. Re-center yourself; own your goals, not someone else’s.
So, here’s to you finding your passion and having the courage to pursue it. If there’s a spark flickering inside of you, let it burn. I believe in your passion as much as I believe in my own (and I’m convinced about mine). Set your Passion Plan in motion today!