I also had the idea for a new novel.
It was last on my list.
I was nervous it wasn't going to be any good.
I scratched it off the list.
A friend gave me advice that has been transformational. He explained that if I would prioritize my list, and put at the top those big things I wanted to achieve most in the world, energy would flow downward toward all my other tasks.
"But I won't get my main stuff done," I said. "My coaching, teaching, editing and writing copy. You know, the stuff I get paid for."
"You'll get it done," he said. "Just try it. Your priorities will be in line with who you are and they will drive you."
This goes along with the Rock Theory of Time Management: if you are trying to fill a jar with rocks, and you put the little pebbles into the jar first, the big rocks just aren't going to fit.
Start with the big rocks.
Well . . . I'm thrilled to tell you, it's working.
I've reordered my priorities in light of my mission. My creative writing is top priority. This is true, regardless of circumstances, paychecks, or whether the work "is any good or not."
In the past couple of weeks, I've had three short stories and a poem accepted for publication. I've taught a new class and entered a watercolor collage in a gallery showing. And I've started writing that novel I was dreaming about.
I haven't been on top of every little thing, but I've been happy, and energetic, feeling that I'm exactly where I need to be.
Funny how I must learn this stuff for myself, again and again. Even though I teach people to make time for creativity, I am not immune to fear and excuse-making and procrastination.
There's always that critic in the back of the mind, sneering. "Your writing (painting, marquetry, poetry, photography, traveling, etc.) is nothing but a waste of time."
But, hey. I'm the one who gets to decide what the Big Rocks are, the important things.
What about you? Are you letting critical thoughts, your conditioning, your family, or other naysayers tell you what your top priorities should be?
It feels easier to put the day job first, or the lawn-mowing, or the laundry, as well as a million other things. But there's that memoir that deep-down, you really want to write. There's that glass art you dream about designing.
It becomes an energy drain.
It's only when you acknowledge your mission that it energizes you.
So what do you want most in the world to accomplish?
What are the talents you want to develop?
Who do you want to become?
Putting the day-to-day stuff first fills the jar with pebbles. Chances are, nobody is going to remember you for your manicured lawn or clean socks, no matter how perfect they are.
This doesn't mean spending most of my hours doing the Big Rocks things, but giving them the first hours of my day. Keeping them foremost in my mind as I do everything I need to do.
Can you rise to the challenge of deciding what your Big Rocks are? Can you rise to the challenge of making time for them, every day?