Today as we celebrate the MLK holiday, I find that many of the issues Martin Luther King Jr. espoused seem to resonate even more deeply than they have in the past. Maybe it’s because over the past year or so I have become more involved in state politics providing both volunteer and aide support to one of the few African American senators in Colorado. Maybe it’s because in trying (and often failing) to juggle these commitments and my writing I’ve had to reevaulate my writing ‘dreams’. Or maybe it’s because I celebrated a ‘big’ birthday last year which inevitably meant taking stock of what I’ve achieved so far…whatever the reason, I find myself feeling more philosophical than usual today.
On one hand, I feel I’ve contributed (albeit in a small way) to progressing society towards some of the goals MLK held dear. On the other hand, this work (and my struggle to balance it with my writing goals) helped reinforce the truth that for me, writing really is the dream I cherish. In some ways this was an important lesson to learn – one I could only really learn when my time to write became so compromised that I realized how much I missed it! Unfortunately, since the legislative session just started in Colorado I have been sucked back into a political vortex (the new aide to my senator just resigned…and I stepped back into the breach) – so I feel a little like I’m back where I started… and I need to recommit to my dream once more and find the right work-life/dream balance.
I was mulling over the concept of ‘dream’ when I caught an excerpt from an episode of “How I Built This” on NPR. Guy Raz was asking the founder of an active wear brand how she thought she managed to make her dream a reality. Her answer was one powerful word – ‘persistence’. When you think about all the dreams we have – from the lofty and powerful ones MLK articulated to the smaller, more individualized ones we hold dear – the only way those dreams can become reality is through persistence. So I’m taking this day to try and recalibrate my expectations and recommit to the concept of persistence.
So TKZ, on this MLK holiday, what dream are you committing to? Any guidance on how to embrace persistence, despite the challenges?
For me it’s all about separating dreams from goals. I define dreams as those things I’d like to attain or achieve that are not within my direct control—for example, selling a million copies of each of my novels.
I define goals as things that ARE within my direct control—for example constanly improving my craft and increasing the number of novels I have out there, which in turn enhances my discoverability and the chance that I’ll achieve that dream.
My two cents.
This is what I would have said, Harvey, except you said it better. 🙂
Harvey – great point, and I do set measurable goals – just need to get down to focusing on those!
My persistence revolves around: 1) writing fic/nonfic; 2) One of the most important things to me is that people have life-long mobility. I’m trying to figure out how to train & help people w/that while dealing w/my own health issues; 3) studying American & Arizona-specific history (would love to be unofficial state historian someday. I don’t want much. LOL!), 4) and developing as a visual artist.
For 2020, I’ve taken a page out of John Maxwell’s bag of tricks & adapted it for my own. Regardless of what other journaling I do, I have a special document set aside to write ONE concise paragraph each day on how I advanced my goals. I’m sure I’m much more anal about it then he is, but I record specifically how much time of my day went to that goal and if I felt it was quality time or surface scratching time.
Other factors that help me focus on my goals:
1) Reading about the super productivity of other writers helps spur me on to try to leave behind my tortoise tendencies (and I’m making incremental progress on not letting perfectionism hold me back – ironically it’s easier for me to share my visual art for critique then my writing. Go figure.)
2) I turn 54 next month. I ain’t got time to waste. 😎
3) I’m the type of person who needs considerable, focused alone time to work creatively, & I’ve had to get better at saying no to people who don’t want to respect my need for focused time. Those few hours a week I get to sit down and focus & think creatively literally feels like winning the lottery.
That to me is the key reason why persistence is important. When I get to focus creatively, I feel on top of the world. My goal is to have THAT be the majority of my time, instead of some boring surface-scratching day job. And for that to change, I simply must persist.
Love it BK! – I need to get better at saying no, so I can get that quality focused creative time back in my life!
You article hit home, it was uplifting and true. Too many times our dreams, especially writing, get put on the back burner while we handle the rest of life. My goal for this year is to do more marketing, ugh, and to work on some long-term planning. I’m starting to realize the importance of planning ahead.
Thanks Sherri – It was a definite struggle in 2019 and now I am trying to recalibrate to get back on track with my writing even though (out of loyalty mainly) I find myself getting drawn back into political work (which is satisfying in its own way – but not, I realize, aligned to my dream!)