One day, Iím not sure exactly when but some day, when Iím ready, Iím going to start attending local community board meetings regularly. Then after awhile Iíll increase my involvement and join a committee.
People donít like to hear that youíre putting something off, especially someone like me who writes about self-help, I mean donít we say that ďanythingĒ is possible? A few years ago I announced on Twitter that I wanted to start writing literary fiction in 10 years and the response was, ďwhy donít you start writing it now?Ē
The answer is that Iím not procrastinating, Iím sequencing. Thereís a difference. Sequencing, or putting off one goal while you pursue another is necessary for a multi-career, multi-dream person like myself. I canít do it all, not all at once, so my community board meetings and literary fiction will just have to wait until Iím further along with reaching my primary goals.
Julie Cohen in her book Your Work, Your Life...Your Way says in order to have a fulfilling and balanced life, learning how to prioritize is a necessity. Brian Tracy, author of Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time says in order to have priorities, you must have posterities or things that you will do lateróor not at all. Thatís what my future community board meetings are to me. Something Iíll get to eventuallyóor not.
So how do I know Iím prioritizing and not procrastinating? I know that Iím not procrastinating because Iím currently working on three major goalsówriting (self-help and romance) parenting and my day job. And thatís plenty. I used to believe that I had to work on five or six major goals all at once, but since then Iíve learned from self-help authors like Barrie Dolnick who say that serenity leads to longevity. Pursuing five or six major goals at once was a direct route to overwhelm, stress and burnout. If I want to go the distance with a huge goal, the less distracted I am the greater the chance of my success.
You can decide which of your goals is a priority by examining whatís most important to you. Best selling author Mira Kirshenbaum says that when making a tough decision choose whatís closest to your heart. ďÖif you get the one thing thatís most important to you,Ē she writes, ďif you focus on the one thing thatís closest to your heart, then thatís the way you will most likely find the happiness thatís available to you.Ē
When deciding what goals are primary and which will be worked on later, timing might be a significant factor. Last week I wrote about phases and stages. Some stages are more conducive to certain activities than others. Being a mother with very young children created a great environment for me to write since I was home a lot. However it would have been difficult for me to attend classes and to study for a graduate degree at that time. Not impossible if grad school had been a priority, primary goal. Since it was not, I could put it off for a later time.
Itís first things first. Primary goals first and then everything else in order of priority. You donít have time to do everything, writes Tracy, but you do have time to do those things that are most important to you.
When putting off one goal to pursue another, make sure you can live with the consequences. I know Iíd regret more if I didnít write than if I never studied for a graduate degree.
If I have room in my life later on, which Iím fairly certain I will, in a few more years, I will have 20 free hours a week to attend classes and participate in community board meetings. Later on down the road, I will have quenched my thirst for writing romance and can venture into something else. Or I may decide when the time comes that I just want to use my spare time to relax and smell the roses. Those primary goals, might be enough to fulfill me completely for a lifetime.