Setting Limits 03/02/2011
 

“Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have—so spend it wisely.”
-Kay Lyons


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Time is a funny thing isn’t it? So often we complain we don’t have enough of it…but last I checked the world’s clock hasn’t changed. There are, and always have been, 24 hours in a day. (Unless, of course, you observe Daylight Savings where you lose an hour one day a year in the spring and gain an hour one day a year in the fall, but we won’t go into that here.)

So why is it that some people seem to accomplish so much in their day…their week…their year? I think it has something to do with the saying, “time is money.”

Think about it…in order to save money for the things you want, be it a vacation, a house, a rainy day fund, you have to create a budget. You have to set limits on your spending in order to make your money work for you.

I think our time is much the same way. The more I observe the people who are making their 24 hours work for them, I am not only astounded by the amount of work they crank out but intrigued by how they do it. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are able to do it because they assign their time a set value. And once assigned a value, they budget that income to make the most of it. Just as we choose what will—and will not—be bought with our money, this group of magic-makers sets limits on what will—and will not—receive their time.

Over at Jamie Ridler Studios today’s Wishcasting Wednesdays prompt asks, “What limits do you wish to set?”

I think you know what I’m going to say.

I wish to set limits on my time.

I wish to assign my time a value, to treat it like money, a limited resource, to spend only on the things that will give me the greatest value.

For me, that means mapping out a visual cue for how I want to prioritize and spend my time. On of the first things promising reporters learn in journalism 101 is a concept called “the inverted pyramid.” It’s visual tool used by journalists and other writers to illustrate the placement of the most important information first within a text, followed by the second most important information and so on.

If I were to follow the inverted pyramid format to budget my time, my spiritual and emotional well-being would be placed at the top. This would mean my top priority of the day would be spending time praying, meditating, reading and journaling—the activities that feed my soul and help me gain a clearer perspective on my day.

The second and third tier would be dedicated to “family time” and “physical health,” respectively.

The third tier goes to my writing. Some might question why I didn’t make this my top priority. My reason is that in order to have something to give to my writing and art I need to make sure I’m taking care of myself on a spiritual, emotional and physical level first. If I go into my writing running on empty, my writing will be empty as well.

The fourth tier is shared by the “must-do’s” (the day job, household chores, and the basic responsibilities of living a grown-up life) and the “like to-do’s” (lunch with friends, going to the movies, hiking in the woods, etc.)

The fifth, final and smallest tier goes to the time-wasters—those “check-out” activities that provide the brain with a break, but don’t offer much more in the sense of a return on my investment. Into this category goes time spent on social media, surfing the Internet, watching television, unnecessary shopping trips and the like.

If time is money, how will you spend it?

Your One Step


Is it time you put yourself on a time spending budget, too?

If so, try keeping a spending log of how you spend your time over the next three days. It doesn’t have to go into great detail. Just write down the activity and the time you spent doing the activity. If you’d like to take this exercise one step further, consider jotting a quick note about how you felt after you did the activity. Did those 30 minutes on Facebook leave you feeling connected and fulfilled or did you feel guilty that you didn’t use them to go for that run you promised yourself earlier in the day?

After doing this exercise for a few days, you’ll have a pretty good picture of where you spend your time. Now is the time to be honest with yourself. Is your activity log an accurate representation of your values and goals? If it doesn’t match up, try creating an inverted pyramid of your time. (I drew mine on a blank notecard so I could carry it with me in my wallet.)

Refer to your inverted pyramid as a gentle reminder whenever you get the urge to spend those precious minutes on an activity that won’t give you much in return. You might be surprised at how the savings add up.
 
 
"The so-called 'secrets of success' will not work unless you do."
-Anonymous


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"Do what you can do, and God will do what you cannot do."

Have you ever read or heard something that cut you to your core? That sucker punched you when you least expected it? This quote from a well-known speaker and preacher got me. Hard.

For months I’d been griping and complaining about my day job. How it robbed me of my time, my energy and, worst of all, my creative drive. I whined nonstop to anyone who would listen (or pretend to listen) how all I really wanted to do was write.

There was one teeny, tiny problem. I wasn’t writing. At all.

This quote—these 13 little words when strung together—brought me face to face with what I’d been trying to avoid for months now. The work. The old fashioned, roll-up-the-sleeves-it’s-time-to-get dirty work that any goal worth achieving requires.

Don't misunderstand me. I strongly believe our thoughts and the law of attraction do play a role in our success. I had vision boards and dream boards decorating my desk at work, adorning my refrigerator. There were Post-It notes with quotes and inspiring messages plastered all over my bathroom mirror, car dashboard and computer monitor. But I also believe visioning is just one part of the equation. To gain anything of real, lasting value, you have to pair that burning, inner desire with a healthy dose of sweat equity.

Wishing could only do so much. I’d already wished my circumstances were different. I’d already wished I were living the writer's life. I’d already wished I had something with my name on it lining bookstore shelves. I’d already wished my way into the byline of all my favorite magazines. I’d already wished I were working from the cozy comfort of my own home. I'd already wished I had the freedom to work my job around my life, not the other way around.

But all that wishing with no writing was like sitting in a car wishing I’d get to my destination without putting gas into the tank. Whenever I had a few minutes to spare, I didn't spend them writing or seeking out story leads. I didn’t spend them researching publishers or crafting query letters. So how on earth could I realistically expect to see my first children's book in bookstores if the story was still in my head? How could I expect to quit my day job to write full-time when I wasn’t even writing part-time? Something had to change, and it wasn't the images on my latest dream board.

I had to make the decision that my writing would be given the same priority I gave my running while I was training for a marathon. Any coach will tell you that visualization is an important aspect to athletic success. The more an athlete visualizes herself running strong, pulling ahead of the pack and crossing the finish line in personal record time, the more likely it is to happen. But the athlete must also train her body. She must make the time and the commitment to run the miles.

As a runner, accomplishing my marathon goals was important to me. But was it more important than my life’s purpose? One evening, I asked my husband about this.

“Why is it that I was able to make the time to train for and complete five marathons—something most people won't do even once in their lifetime—but I can’t seem to get myself to give that same level of dedication and sacrifice to my writing?”

He simply replied, “I guess it all depends on how much you want it.”

Touche.

How much did I want this? How important was my writing to me really? Wasn't it something I wanted not just for recreation and creative escape, but also for my profession, my purpose?

Both the thought of it being that important and not being that important to me made me feel cold, clammy and sick.

Was it fear? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of sacrifice? Fear of what might be?

The only way to find out was to start doing something. Anything. Write a sentence. A paragraph. A page. Just get the pen moving. Make the time. Step out in faith. Do my part, then sit back and let the supernatural do what I cannot.


Your One Step

What project or goal have you been putting off?  The next time you notice a long-time goal just sitting on the shelf collecting dust, take 10 minutes to journal about the following questions:

Is this something I really want?

This can be the scariest question to ask because it involves a great amount of transparency and vulnerability with yourself. Still, be brave and be honest. There's no use in pursuing something—or feeling guilty about not pursuing something--if it doesn't light you up.

Are there too many things demanding my attention making it difficult to accomplish things of real value?

In today's society, we wear our jam-packed agendas like badges of honor. But why? For whom? What obligations are currently on your calendar that, if eliminated, could free up just a couple of hours for you to pursue your dream? List all the obligations that fall under that category, then compare the benefits you receive from each to the value of your goal. Then pick one obligation, take it off your schedule and make room for your dream.

Am I afraid of the outcome? If so, why?

List all your fears associated with accomplishing this goal. Then examine what you wrote and ask yourself if those fears are valid or simply stories your inner gremlins made up about you in order to hold you back from the creatively fabulous life you were meant to live.


It's time to get real with ourselves. It's time to face our fears and reclaim our gorgeous, sparkly creative right. Don't worry. You don't have to claim it all at once. Just take a step, and watch the magic unfold.
 
See the Dream 02/18/2011
 
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you imagined."
- Henry David Thoreau


Each month, I get together with a lovely group of creative magic makers and enthusiastic dreamers to create full moon dream boards. It’s part of Jamie Ridler Studios “A Year of Dreams” telecircle. (Side note: if you love to dream, collage or simply want to fill your life with more intention, these workshops are a fabulous place to grow!)

If you’re not familiar with dream boards (or vision boards as I’ve also heard them called), they’re an artistic approach to “writing” out your goals and aspirations. By combining visual images and words that represent what you want more of in your life, you learn to shift your focus onto those goals. Think of it as a tool that summarizes the proverb, “Where the mind goes, the human follows.”

After making my first dream board last month, I didn’t think it was possible to make another one that I would like nearly as much, that provided me with so much joy and journaling inspiration.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

What I’m learning is that the goal of my dream board isn’t to get me from “here” to “there” in a month’s time, but to slowly, gradually, gently wake me up to my dream. Each month is a piece to the puzzle that reveals a new step toward my destination.

So what am I learning from this month’s dream board?

So far I’m learning that not only is it ok, but it’s necessary for me to blend my “personal” life (left side of my dream board) with my “purpose/career” life (the right side of my dream board). I fought this idea at first, ignoring the images and words I found in magazines that spoke to home and relationships. But then I remembered my purpose behind Project 180: to design a life that blends my purpose and personal life in a way that results in a existence immersed in creativity, writing and exploration.

Is there a way to make a living doing that? That’s the question I’m exploring now. I think so, but I feel it’s going to take some scaling back and a long, hard review of necessity vs. want. (hmmm…I’m seeing signs of simplicity in my dream board, too).


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Your One Step:

Over the weekend, why not try creating a dream board of your own...You may be surprised by the discoveries you make by this time next month.

• Find a piece of poster board, a blank page in your art journal…even a piece of cardboard will do (and you’ll score extra points in my book for being eco-savvy!) ;)

• Round up a stack of old magazines, a pair of scissors and a glue stick. Those are the basic supplies, but feel free to bring along some markers, crayons, stickers and even photographs, too.

• Cut out images and words that speak to a certain goal you have in mind, or let intuition be your guide.

• Once you have your images and words cut out, arrange them on the surface in the way you want them to appear, then glue them to the surface.

• Display your dream board in a location where you will see it daily (mine is in my bathroom so I’m sure to see it first thing in the morning as I get ready for the day, and the last thing at night as I get ready for bed.

I’d love to know how this exercise goes for you! Feel free to leave a comment (or question) about your experience. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from creating dream boards in a group setting like that provided by “A Year of Dreams” telecircle and other workshops I’ve taken, strength lies in numbers.


Live Creatively!
Sara