Monday, November 30, 2009

Blog Chain: Balancing Your Life

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."

We all strive to do something meaninful with our lives--to live to the fullest--but how do we live our dreams and still find time to do the dishes?

Amanda picked the topic for this round of the Blog Chain:

How do you prioritize? How do you balance paying attention to your writing, critiquing for friends, spending time with your family and earning a living?

This is a topic that I've been struggling with over the past couple of months, so this seems like perfect timing :). Maintaining balance is such a problem sometimes, and figuring out where writing lies on our priorities can be nothing short of frustrating.

First, I found I had to lay out what my priorities are. After all, how can I decide what's most important if I'm not even sure what all my priorities are?

My priorities include (in no particular order):

* Spending time with my husband
* Writing
* Cleaning up the house once in a while
* Spending time w/ my family
* Spending time w/ my friends
* Critiquing/beta reading for writer pals
* Working a full time job
* Exercising
* Watching TV (hehe. Well, it's true)

I was finding myself getting more and more stressed out as I tried to juggle all of these things, and finally realized I'd left something important off my priority list. Taking care of myself!

As a Christian, I know I struggle with feeling selfish if I'm thinking of myself or doing something "only for me." However, the truth is, we can't give to others all the time if we're burnt out. It just doesn't work that way! In order to do our best work and give joyfully to our friends, families, and spouses, we have to take care of ourselves first. Once we're recharged, we'll have more to give, and we'll be happier while we do it.

I'm still trying to work out how to fit everything into a day, but I've started doing things like meditating, taking bubble baths, and exercising more often to make sure I relieve stress and stay healthy. It's definitely made a difference, and I feel like I have more to give to my writing, as well as to those I love.

We also have to realize that it's okay if we're not superheroes. If the carpet doesn't get vacuumed for a couple of weeks, no one will call the police. It's gonna be alright! We can't do everything.

Everyone has different priorities, and that is both normal and healthy. If you can't see family one weekend because you need to take care of yourself, go for it. If you need to take a weekend off from writing to spend time with your friends, go for it! Do what's best for you to keep yourself in balance.

I'm still getting there day by day :).

What do you guys do to achieve balance in your own lives? Is it difficult for you? Easy?

Please check out Michelle's answer before me, too! I'm the last link in the chain, so please go to Amanda's post (linked above) to read everyone's contribution :).

I hope everyone had a great holiday!!


Abby Annis said...

Priorities can be hard to keep in perspective, especially when you're really itching to write. Fortunately for me, my family is very understanding.

This is something I really struggled with when my kids were little. I was pretty depressed for a long time until I figured out that I needed time for myself. At first, like you, I felt guilty for wanting it, but now it's a top priority. The main reason being that I'm happier, and therefore, a better wife and mother when I give myself that time. And that time includes writing time. :)

Great post!

Mary Lindsey said...

Ah, you so summed it up. "Taking care of myself" and "We can't do everything." Darn right! Excellent post.

melane said...

You're absolutely right. My family is my number one priority, but I've realized I have to do some things for myself once in a while. Otherwise, I get very cranky:)

Cole Gibsen said...

You said it! "We can't do everything."

Apparently I can't work, write, revise, and post my own blog about priorities - which I find a bit ironic. LOL.

christine said...

so darn true!!! great post!

Yunaleska said...

Prioritizing life is very important. I'm cutting back on posting comments on blogs (really!), twittering etc - net can eat into my time that I'm currently using to relax and try and stay healthy.

Scott said...

Were you reading my mind again? I did a post (not the first, probably not the last) about balance yesterday.

There are some days where chaos reigns supreme and I can't do everything I want to do. I finally learned that I'm only human, and I can only do what I can do, and that the world as I know it is not going to end if I don't finish every task on the to do list by the end of the day. The toilet scrubbing can wait until tomorrow. If I'm dog/cat tired, then I don't write, because I know my writing will suffer.

I think balance is about tossing aside the endless to-do list and just doing the best we can with our lives every single day. Yeah, it's hard, but it's definite worthwhile in the end.


SammyStewart said...

My priorities are similar:
1. Faith (selfish)
2. Husband
3. Progeny
4. Writing (selfish)
5. Extended Family
6. Social/Church service
7. Exercise (selfish. Will be higher on the list when I am no longer 9 mos. pregnant.)

Things tend to fall into place when you have the self taken care of (intellectually, spiritually, physically) and the immediate family happy and healthy. Lots of people like to say that they would be novelists too, if only they had time. YOU MAKE TIME FOR WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU. Which, often enough, is Lotus-eating (guilty here). It's amazing how much time you can carve out of 24 hours for what's most important.

Badass Geek said...

Life and basic responsibilities always comes first. After that, it's all gravy.

I sent you an e-mail over the weekend (to the one listed in your About Me profile). Did you get it?

JennyMac said...

I prioritize family first, then self, then work. I used to do it differently..never again.

Michelle McLean said...

There's no carpet police? Woohoo!!! Now if I could just get rid of the dishes and laundry police I'll be doing good ;-D Awesome post! :)

Tere Kirkland said...

You're right, you can't do everything. At least you appreciate your limitations and prioritize as necessary.

Hope the holiday season is good to you and your writing.

ElanaJ said...

I think everyone struggles with taking time for themselves. I'm getting better at it. Thankfully, my husband realizes that if I don't leave the house for crit group on a bi-weekly basis, there might be deaths. And not mine. ;)

Balance is always hard. But necessary. And when it's out of whack, you'll know.

Lisa and Laura said...

Great post, Rebecca! Sometimes it's hard to remember we can't do it all....balance is a good thing.

Eric said...

Great post. You have quite a few priorities going on, but you hit it on the head about taking care of yourself. Missing that means you are not going to succeed. Good luck with your priorities, sounds like you know what you need and just need to keep doing it.

B.J. Anderson said...

So very true. Great post!! Sorry I'm so darn late posting a comment. I've been juggling priorities lately! ;)