I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on life or even achieving your dreams. While I’ve read and heard the opinions of the masses regarding finding happiness and success in life, and I’ve seen a lot of inspirational quotes on Pinterest, the truth is that I’m only 23, and I have a lot to learn before I can deem myself a successful adult or become any sort of expert on anything.
That said, in the past few weeks I have made a few personal discoveries that have demonstrated to be beneficial to my achievement of my goals. I often find myself overwhelmed by all of the things I want to do and hope to accomplish. I want to keep up with this blog, but also keep up with my creative writing. I want to grow my photography business, but also remain invested in my day job now. I want to live a healthy lifestyle complete with a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise regimen, but I also want to bake all the sweets in the world. I want to try new recipes, keep a clean house, and still have time to watch TV with my husband. I want to host parties and go out with friends, but I also want to stay home and veg after a long week. I want to travel the world, but also save money to invest in a home.
It’s enough to make you just want to bury your head in your pillow and never come out of bed. And I know I’m not alone in this dilemma. But over the weekend I came to a sort of sense of peace. I realized in which ways I can change to make myself more productive towards achieving my goals, and I also realized that it’s okay to not be able to work towards them all at once—because, well, that would just be impossible.
Thus, the five things I, the total non-expert, suggest for anyone who hopes to strengthen their progress to their own goals:
- Ask for what you want. If you don’t let your desires be known, then no one will have any reason to grant them to you. I have always had a hard time with this. I am a naturally quiet, people-pleasing person. I don’t like to raise a fuss. But I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone on this a few times lately. When I found out there would be an editorial position at the press opening, I went straight to our editor-in-chief and asked him what he’d suggest I do to best be considered for it. I turned down another opportunity at the press in hopes that the editorial job would pan out, and it did. If I had just sat around and taken what was first offered to me, I would not be in the job I’m in now. Similarly, I would not be shooting my first wedding in a couple weeks if I had not reached out to my friend who was searching for a photographer. Putting myself out there with my desires known was terrifying, but it has paid off time and time again.
- Start the day off right. Sometimes, my favorite thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning is to park myself right in front of the TV for a lazy couple of hours. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can get me started on a lazy streak throughout the rest of the day. Last Saturday, I woke up at 9, got myself a bowl of cereal and some coffee, and delved into my writing project all morning. Starting off the day with doing something productive actually made me feel ready to tackle the other things on my to-do list, like doing the dishes and adding to my photography website. Then I got some relaxing time in later, and felt better about taking it.
- Balance your time between your tasks and pursuits. If you have several things you NEED to get done during the week, don’t overestimate your time and energy and expect to get them all done at once. I get much less stressed if I divide each day during the week by tasks. For example: Monday I’ll catch up on blogging; Tuesday I’ll take care of photography business; etc. This doesn’t always work out, especially since there are other things that do have to be every day, but it helps me feel better when I reach the end of a day and realize I had no time for blogging after I worked, went to the grocery store, worked out, made dinner, and did creative writing for half an hour.
- Come up with realistic short-term and long-term goals. Strive for something you know you could achieve in the short term, if you put your mind to it. And keep all your short-term goals in mind when you think of your big, long-term goal. It’s okay if it seems unattainable at first. It’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to have to go through a lot of short-term goals before you’ll reach your long-term one. It’s okay. Your goals will keep you focused.
- Pray and/or meditate. Whether you’re religious or not, taking five minutes out of your day to recount your blessings, ask for your wants, and free your mind of all preoccupations has such an effect on your zen. It’s freeing.
Happy pursuits, my friends. Did I miss anything on my list? What do you do to increase your productivity?