Several months ago I decided I wanted to try and go all in on writing. 2017 was a great year for me writing wise, but 2018 was not. I burnt myself out in 2017 and getting back in the writing groove was far harder than I imagined. But after NaNoWriMo I was feeling pumped, and ready to take on the writing world again.
I made a little deal with myself. I decided for this one year. For the year of 2019. I would say yes to everything that came my way. Someone wanted to run a facebook party, I said yes I’d love to join and bring a prize. Someone asks if I want to be in anthology or a part of a book bundle, yes. Come to this conference, teach this class, join us at a retreat. Yes. Yes. Yes. I know you can’t say yes every single time, but every time it was possible I was going to say yes to keep the needle moving as much as possible. My thinking was, that all these little things would add up to a great big thing. What that thing would be I’m not sure, but I wanted to find out.
And while I had a rough start in the beginning of the year, I was mostly accomplishing what I said. I was pushing forward, all be it in smaller steps than I wanted, but I was getting there. But then this month my plans were put on their head. A new opportunity came my way. One that had nothing to do with writing. An opportunity that would most likely put off my yes plans, if not completely derail them for the time being.
And that’s when it hit me. You can never always say yes. Often a yes creates a no.
If I were to follow through on my plan this year to say yes to every writing opening, I couldn’t say yes to this opportunity. And if I wanted to say yes to this new opportunity I would have to say no to future writing opportunities. Because no matter how hard I try, I can only do so much. And more than that, I don’t want to do everything. Doing too much is what got me into the funk that took up most of my 2018. I want to have time to sit and read, to enjoy life, to smell the roses. To find time to recharge and be creative.
But how to decide which yes to agree to and which to turn down is a very different problem. One I haven’t completely figured out yet. I doubt there is a correct answer in a situation like this. Undoubtedly the answer is different for each person.
At least for me, this moment has served as an important reminder that you can’t do everything. As much as we like to think that we are capable of anything if we set our minds to it and work hard, that isn’t the truth.
We all have a finite amount of time, focus and energy we can expend. And setting priorities and boundaries is just as important as setting goals. To keep these priorities in line you just might have to say no for every yes you decided to offer. But as long as the yes you give are moving you closer to your goal.
Does anyone else struggle with setting priorities the way I do? Do you have any hints, tricks or hacks to set priorities and stick to them (that’s my biggest issue, sticking with them and saying that no when it’s necessary)? I’d be curious to hear all about them in the comments.