I don’t have the time or space in my life.
One of the questions I get asked the most as an artist is, “How do you find the time to do it?” People look at me as if I have four hands. Surely I am some strange mutant that can operate at twice the speed of the normal human being.
I have always found it amazing that we all have 24 hours in our day. Some people seem to suck everything they can out of that 24 hours. Others, get to the end of it and have nothing to show for it and wonder where it even went. I wish I could tell you I’ve found a way to do the former every single day, but this just isn’t true. (Especially since as an artist I work in ideas a lot. Ideas are pretty hard to show proof of the labor.) Some days are productive days and some days are a blur. But somehow if you have enough of the full, productive days, it seems to balance the whole picture out, leaving people with this impression that you are super-human.
I can pinpoint distinctly for you when my marginal excuse became invalid. It was November of 2009. I signed up for a challenge called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) I signed up not because I wanted to write a 50,000 word fictional piece, but because I became convinced that if my writing dream was ever really going to happen, I was going to have to get serious about actually writing (and writing a lot) everyday. To keep up with NaNoWriMo it is necessary that you write 1666 words a day. Every. Day. You write if you’re tired. You write if you don’t have words to write. You write if the words coming out of you seem useless and boring and messy. You write if your kids are sick. You write if you’re sick. You write on the weekends. You write on Thanksgiving. And if there is a day when you don’t write, you just realize that means 3332 words you have to write tomorrow. That month of writing taught me that I actually CAN make time for writing and creating in my life, even with four kids whom I homeschool. I called my own bluff and disproved my own Marginal Excuse.
If there is a big dream you are feeling called to, you can make the time to invest in that dream. You find a way to make margin in your life for the things you feel called to. This might mean you have to cut out some good things to make time for the even greater things. Seeing if you are willing to make some hard decisions and sacrifices and commitments may solidify for you if this is an actual dream or just a dream you’ve romanticized in your head. In other words, it will clarify if you are attempting to live your dream or someone else’s.
Don’t think that quitting a job or getting into a new season of your life, or moving to a new town or building the perfect room to create in or winning the lottery or vacationing to Italy are going to instantly make your dream come true. In one of my favorite documentaries Bill Cunningham, New York Fashion Photographer, said, “There are no shortcuts.” If I have not made the margin for and learned the discipline and practice of writing consistently today, I am not going to magically become a writer tomorrow. Sure I may have to start small today, but I can still start. And starting is the point. You instantly feel differently about yourself for having started.
Things to Consider:
- What time a day could you devote specifically towards your dream? Honor that time and show up everyday. (Knowing you only get one window of time to take steps towards your dream per day makes it that much harder to blow it off.)
- Are you making time alone (monthly? weekly? daily?) to dream, plan, vision cast, goal set and refocus?
- Do you say yes to others because you’re afraid what they’ll think if you say no? Try only saying yes when it’s fitting!
- Can you pinpoint and eliminate distractions that suck your time?
- Consider limiting or eliminating how you interact with TV, social media, movies, email, meetings, phone calls.
- What tensions can you eliminate/let go of/set right, to free up energy?
- What tensions are valuable, even necessary to stretch you into this new person?
- Are all the things you’re engaging in propelling you towards greatness (do not confuse this with perfection)? Eliminate that which isn’t.
- What rewards would entice you to achieve your goals? Can you offer yourself a reward? Or several small ones?
- Are you keeping a notebook (bullet journal?) with you at all times to jot down creative ideas as they come so you can free up brain space and track real progress?