Earlier this week, I took a long walk and thought a lot about my writing, and what my main goals are.
Why do I really want to get my writing published some day?
What are you writing for?
While my first son was young, I was busy building a teaching career because I didn’t have the option of staying at home. But as much as I enjoyed teaching, my son needed me more than I was able to be with him while I was working.
I also found I was so busy with work, I had no time for the personal things I loved to do—reading and writing.
Nearly four years ago, when we had the means, I gave up work (other than private tutoring and substitute teaching), so I could be a stay-at-home mom. Last year, I had another baby. Now I’m very busy all the time, and the thought of going back to work while my children are young is pretty much out of the question.
My main goal in writing is for the self-satisfaction it brings. But, my main goal in getting published (and completing the occasional freelance assignment) is to earn a little extra income from home so I can focus on motherhood as long as my children need me full-time.
What Are Your Life Priorities?
All this thinking about my ultimate goal of publication got me onto the idea of life’s priorities.
My personal top three priorities are as follows:
- God: Worship of, and service to, God.
- Family: Love, care, and responsibility toward husband, children, extended family.
- Self: Personal goals, including writing.
Of course, those are the order on paper only. In reality, sometimes it’s more like family–self–God, or even self–family–God. But, this is the order of priorities I’d like to strive toward.
Other life priorities might include:
- inner peace
Your Priorities Affect Your Writing Life
As you can see from my personal list, my writing goals come after my responsibilities toward God and family, which means that my reasons for writing must fall in line with what I want to achieve in my most important priorities.
For example, I need to learn to weave my writing life into my service to God and family, rather than weaving God and family into my writing life. Sometimes that means I only get to write before the children are awake or after they go to bed. It also means I don’t write on Sundays, even though it’s one of the days my husband is home to help watch the kids.
Perhaps your life is very different to mine. Maybe you’re single or have no children, or you have a very successful career to look after. Let’s say your top three life priorities included:
- Relationships (relatives, friends, romantic relationships)
- Success (career and/or writing)
- Health (physical and mental)
In this example, relationships are a greater priority than writing, which means you should not sacrifice quality time with your friends, family, or romantic partner for your writing. But, because health is below writing in this list, a writing session needs to hold more importance than a workout session.
Remember, just because other things come before writing doesn’t mean it isn’t still a priority. You still need to carve out time in your day for your writing, no matter where it appears on your list.
Define Your Life Priorities to Define Your Writing Priorities
Go ahead. Make a list of your own top three life priorities, ranging from the most important to the least important.
Are you treating your top priorities right by devoting enough time to them?
Sometimes our priorities get mixed up. We spend more time on the things that are less important than on the things that are most important. We’re probably all guilty of doing that once in a while, or even frequently.
But putting down in writing the things that are most important to you will help you identify where you need to focus your time and energy.
I realize now that my publishing goals do fall in line with my life’s goals. My reasons for wanting to be published—that is, to earn money from home doing something I love—support my desires for my family and God.
How about you?
What are your life priorities? What are your writing priorities? How does each one affect the others? Are your writing goals in line with your life goals?
Join the discussion
P.I. Barrington says
Another great article~Thanks. It reminds me that I need a little alone time to re-prioritize my values.
Thanks! I guess we all need to re-prioritize now and then.
1. Health (mental and physical).
2. Writing (to become a great and successful author).
3. Living (to live a life full of adventures, whatever those are).
Sounds like you know exactly what you want and where you’re headed!
And I’m glad about it. That’s for sure.
Sunitha Mathew9 says
I know my priorities, but like you said “We spend more time on the things that are less important than on the things that are most important. We’re probably all guilty of doing that once in a while, or even frequently.” Amen to frequently!
I know I need to really work to keep my priorities in order 🙂
It’s refreshing to see someone state publicly that her number one goal is to worship and serve God. Thank you. I share the goal and would join the Psalmist in saying “Oh, magnify the Lord with me,and let us exalt his name together.” (Ps. 34:3) And you are spot on in recognizing that the priorities of our life have a direct impact on our writing. Kudos.
Cheers, Jim! We all have our own priorities, but I felt this was something I needed to write about here. Thanks for your support.
This is exactly what I’ve been doing this week–reassessing my priorities so I can fit in writing, reading and other things I enjoy. Without taking time to reflect on these things, it’s so easy for us to while away time doing things that don’t advance our goals or satisfy our needs.
Thanks for sharing also how priorities change over time at different phases of our lives. My priorities before kids, during kids and after kids have definitely differed. Recognizing that during each phase helped me to manage my time accordingly.
These days my priorities are
1. Health– physical stamina and mental clarity
2. Fun–relationships and activities, especially travel
3. Financial abundance–writing, speaking and coaching
The order of these shifts, but time spent on each one helps fuel the others.
You’re right about the changes we make over time. I’ll always endeavour to put my family before myself, but when my kids are grown I know I’ll have a little more time for writing and my other interests. Good luck with your goals!
The order of priorities changes more like seasons, decades of time in our life, chunks of personal goals, long and short term, what happens after the children, the career and the major relationships shift?
Then there is the quote: Life is what happens while we are planning.
Yes, we definitely need to realize things will change over time. Who knows where we’ll all be five years from now? 🙂
jennifer blanchard says
Wow–I don’t know if I can narrow it down to only three priorities! haha… I guess if I had to try, I’d say:
1) Self (of which I include everything involved in taking care of myself, like relaxing, cooking healthy meals, exercise, etc)
Of course my priorities definitely don’t fall in that order most of the time. Usually it’s family above all else. But on rare occasions writing falls in the number one spot (like this weekend when I’ll be focusing on completing a freelance assignment).
Thanks for this post. It really got me thinking–I needed that!
I know you’re a very goal-oriented person, Jennifer! Here’s to hoping you can put your priorities in order and find some time for relaxation soon!
Andrea Di Salvo says
I really appreciate this post. Most of what you said matches my situation exactly, right down to putting God first and family second ( despite Michael Hyatt’s compelling reasons for putting self second). I often look at other freelance writers, at the huge amounts of time they seem to spend writing, and feel like a slacker for only stealing moments here and there when my other priorities allow. This year, though, I realized that, if God and family come before my writing, I have to act like it! Your post is an important reminder to me to keep my priorities straight and not be ashamed for putting my faith and family before any extra income I might earn from writing. Thank you.
Some mothers do take some flak for putting their families before their careers, but I can’t imagine why. I know from experience that being a full-time mother is more demanding and mentally/emotionally challenging than working full-time. There’s no 10 am coffee break in mothering, or 5:30 pm knock off. We’re on all call day and all night!
Cathy Yardley says
Very thoughtful post. I try to put my faith first, whenever possible, because my life becomes really crazy if I don’t. But I’ve also discovered that writing is part of my self-care. If I don’t prioritize writing, it affects my other priorities, like being a good mother. My son’s care comes before anything, but since writing is also part of what pays the bills, writing is key to caring for him. It’s sometimes tough to balance, but I do the best I can.
You make a good point about self-care, Cathy. Underneath my list of three priorities is an invisible list of about a hundred other priorities! God, family, and self are just the top three in my life. So even though God and family come first, I still devote a lot of my time to writing and–consequently–self-care.
This article is another nudge that I am on the right track to gaining balance in my life. Priorities in our minds can be so different than what practically plays out day by day. Sometimes life may thrust a priority in front of us if we neglect it too long and leave things unbalanced. Here were my priorities ten years ago:
Ministries (full time hours for volunteer work)
And this is how it actually played out daily (if I am honest)
Ministries (full time 30 – 40 hours for volunteer work)
See which one stayed the same? An imbalanced overwhelming schedule where I felt guilty putting any of my needs before others, as ‘good girls’ are taught, the same type so many women struggle with. Here are my honest priorities today:
Self/Health (because of years of ignoring health issues, I must focus on them now)
Children (college age)
Ministry – which has now focused on writing
Seasons of life change, but maintaining balance within it is always needed. As our priorities become more balanced, I think as writers we can have more clarity to express ourselves at our highest levels. I appreciate your encouragement.
I’m at a point in my life where I feel as though things are starting to fall apart for me. My job is dreadfully stressful and I think it’s going to be my downfall. My wife, the one that soothes my mind and keeps me sane, fills the number one spot in my life. My writing and my studies fill spot number two. My job—my source of income, the thing that will kill me if I can’t free myself from its clutches, didn’t make the list. Though I know I need a full time job to feed all of my other dreams, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by it. A new job in these trying times is near impossible to find. The pursuit of a new source of revenue is a priority for me and therefore must occupy slot number three. Wouldn’t it be just wonderful if I could blend my writing and my pursuit into one?
Julie Duffy says
This is a great idea. I was looking this week at Gretchen Rubin’s piece about personal manifestos, which is a similar idea (http://bit.ly/i8O63L).
I now have a Post-It note attached to the wall by my desk with the four ‘pillars’ on which I want to build my writing career. Every time I start a new task, I can glance up and see which of those pillars it’s supporting (if any) and if it’s the right one, or if my foundation is getting a bit unbalanced.