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Posts Tagged ‘Life Balance’

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Before I get started on my social networking post, I would like to give a shout out to Alison Hertz and her Doodle Day May challenge. During the challenge, Alison offered a doodle prompt every day in May and we doodled. Then we shared our doodles on her Doodle Day May Facebook page. It was inspirational and fun. I will be posting more about this in the future, but I wanted to mention it today because it truly has been a great experience.

Now on to my intended post. . . .

Have you ever felt like the main character in a horror story titled THE SOCIAL NETWORK MONSTER THAT ATE AN AUTHOR? (And we are talking the author as main character, not the monster 🙂 ) If you have ever felt like the main character, it might be time to reevaluate how you are spending your time and energy.

A while back, I read a Facebook post that went something like this: When I am about to die and my life flashes before my eyes, I’m afraid all I’ll see is Facebook and television. I thought the post was pretty funny. However, as I once heard a famous comedian say, “There is humor in tragedy.”

Back in February, the featured guest blogger for Donna Martin’s Writerly Wisdom series was the award-winning author, Donna M. McDine. The title of this post is “Social Networking Enough Already . . . When It Hinders Your Writing.” Following is a quote from her post.

“Do you want to concentrate on honing your writing skills and writing the best manuscript possible or have hundreds of thousands followers on your social networks with no concrete publishing credits to show for your efforts?”

I made a note of the above quote because I wanted to remember it. I believe it is a good question for writers to ask themselves periodically.

In my January post, A FULFILLING LIFE IS ONE OF BALANCE, I offered an exercise using the Writing Wheel for Creating Balance. Today, I’m wondering if I should have included categories on the wheel for Social Networking and Energy. One of the categories I did offer on the wheel was “Time.” Time is critical in a writer’s life. Time and energy are valuable and limited personal resources. When these resources run dry, so does the opportunity to accomplish our goals. How can a writer maintain balance in life or as a writer if s/he squanders these resources by spending excessive time on social networking?

I feel like I must disclose that I sometimes find myself distracted by social networks and media. After all, I am human. Like time and energy, social media and networking are extremely important and valuable to writers, but if we are not careful, we can be swallowed by the monster and never see the light of a writer’s day – earning concrete publishing credits. Time spent not writing and submitting is time spent not meeting our number one goal.

How are you spending your time?

LET YOUR YEAH MEAN YEAH AND YOUR NO MEAN NO 

When it comes to how we spend our time, one thing we all seem to have in common is an abundance of life choices. We have a never-ending supply of things we feel we must do and things people expect us to do. Then there are all those things that are just too good to pass up. One of the consequences of over choosing is we often end up spending our lives expending ourselves as if we are unlimited, and we are not. When it comes to life choices, one of the most empowering skills we can learn is the ability to say no. The ability to say no to the boss; the spouse; the friends; the TV; the overtime; the recreation and social engagements; social networking and to ourselves. I am not suggesting that we say no to everything. I am suggesting saying no to the combination of things that will create balance when we let them go.

Saying no is a learnable skill, but it is one of the most difficult skills for some women to learn. However, it is one of the most valuable skills because learning to say no becomes a way to honor your values and yourself. Saying no involves choice because when we say no to one thing, we say yes to something else. It is all about choosing to say yes to things that make us more alive and saying no to things that suck the life from us. It is as simple as asking yourself: “What do I want more of in my life?” and “What do I want less of?”

When you first start exercising your right to say no, you might have worries: But saying no is rude. Saying no means, you are not a team player. Saying no means, you are selfish, and on and on it goes. It is important to remember that for every yes you say in life, you are saying no to something else. For example, if someone says yes to working late hours every day, she might be saying no to family and rest. She might be saying yes to her fear of losing her job and yes to powerlessness. Or maybe she is saying no to serenity and yes to security. If someone says no to getting up and exercising in the morning, she might be saying yes to feeling warm and cozy. She might be saying yes to an extra ten pounds or getting more sleep. When a writer says yes to excessive time social networking, she might be saying no to writing. She might be saying no to submitting. And she might be saying no to publication. On the other hand, she might be saying yes to I need a break and a little friendly chatting or learning.

Where and when do you respond with an automatic yes? When and where do you respond with an automatic no? When do you say yes when you really want to say no? When do you say no when you really want to say yes? When does saying yes drain you and saying no energize you? When does saying yes energize you and saying no drain you? Following is a worksheet that might be helpful in evaluating what you say no to when you say yes and what you say yes to when you say no.

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Before, I start my ‘Chooser’s Remorse Clause” post, I want to do a quick check in with my blog followers. I have been wondering if my Life Balance blog series is time well spent on my part. This is important to me because I want to find the best possible use for my blog, and if I am not moving in the right direction, I need to know. I am considering dropping the Life Balance series. I would appreciate comments or email if you have been following this series and if you have any interest in seeing it continue. Thank you in advance for your time.

Now, on to the post!

People often fear making the wrong decision. This fear can grow to such proportions that it prevents people from taking any action, and they remain stuck in place. There is no formula for revealing the secret choice that is just right for you, or which choice comes with a guarantee. At some point, you must consider all the information you have, along with all your options, and then make a decision.

At one time or another, all of us have difficulty selecting among our many life options. When this happens, we can think in terms of choices rather than decisions. Some people think this is just playing with words, but there is more to it than that.

A choice is a selection of one thing over another – a preference. Deciding involves passing judgment, forming a definite opinion or arriving at a conclusion.  If we drop the “de” from the word decide we are left with cide. That’s the same syllable found in suicide, genocide, and homicide. With it comes an image of killing something. Sometimes, deciding can feel like a kind of murder – a killing of alternatives.

Some people, when faced with a decision, react with thoughts such as . . .

“Well, I don’t want this. I don’t want that. So, I guess, all that’s left is this.”

With that type of reasoning, they have killed off the alternatives and assumed their decision is final. The thought process goes something like this . . .

“If I decide this, I will have to live with it forever. My fate is sealed.”

No wonder deciding is tough. Thinking we must live with our decision forever is pretty scary stuff.  Deciding in this way is not a freeing experience. In fact, it might feel like entering prison. However, choosing instead of deciding can change everything.

Choosing is a process that leaves other options intact. The scenario changes when we choose instead of decide. Now, the process goes something like this . . .

“Let’s see. What do I want to do? I could do this, or that, or this. Hmm, I could even do this! Well, I’m not sure, so I’ll just choose this, for now.”

This person has left her options open. She can opt for one thing now and reconsider her choice later. At the time of reconsideration, she might choose something different. Or, she might even come up with a totally new idea. Either way, there is no harm done.

The key feature of this choosing process is that no killing takes place. Not only do the alternatives escape unharmed, they are in robust health waiting to be considered at another time. Choosing “for now” does not rule out choosing again in the future. Our options remain alive.

One tool that promotes this process is Dave Ellis’s “Chooser’s Remorse Clause.” This is similar to an early effort at consumer protection called “The Buyer’s Remorse Clause.” Such measures date back to the days when some door-to-door salesmen used tricks, manipulations and half-truths to peddle a year’s supply of soap or enough cutlery to require a mortgage on your home. In response to this trickery, some states passed laws stating that within, say, three days, you could change your mind. You could return the items and tear up the sales agreement. You owned nothing, and you were not obligated to pay a penny.

A chooser’s remorse clause is much the same. The advantage of using one is that it offers you the freedom to experiment.

“Well, I’m not sure which option to pick.” You can say. “But today, I feel like this one.”

After choosing that option, you can sleep on it. You can also talk to other people about it and see how it feels after some hours pass. And, if that choice does not sit right at the end of your remorse period – whether that’s three hours or three weeks – you’ll know it. Then, you can choose again with no penalty or guilt.

When you exercise your right to change your mind, some people might accuse you of being fickle. “I’m not fickle.” You can reply. “I’m merely exercising my chooser’s remorse clause.”

Even when a choice makes it past your remorse period, you can still review it later. After you have chosen, you can review that choice every month or every year. At those times, you can step back, get the big picture, and see if your choice still makes sense.

Note that invoking the chooser’s remorse clause is not the same as being wishy-washy or uncommitted. We can be fully committed to trying an alternative or experimenting with a strategy. We can play full out, even as we keep our options open.

This is your life. You have the right to choose and to change your mind along the road to fulfillment.

What keeps you from exercising your right to change your mind? How can you overcome that obstacle and make the choice that is best for you at this time?

The information in this blog post is modified from the book “Human Being: A Manual for Happiness, Health, Love, and Wealth” by Dave Ellis.

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Life is made up of many facets, and they are all equally important.  A fulfilling life is one of balance. Even though, this blog is for supporting writers, I would like to encourage you to view your life beyond writing. Some of the areas I will suggest you look at are as follows.

  1. Significant other, romance, love and sex
  2. Immediate Family (spouse, children, and grandchildren)
  3. Extended Family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
  4. Friends
  5. Home/physical environment
  6. Fun and Recreation
  7. Work/career
  8. Finances (money and possessions)
  9. Physical health
  10. Emotional health
  11. Mental health
  12. Honoring your values
  13. Self-care
  14. Relaxation
  15. Fulfilling personal needs
  16. Spiritual growth
  17. Personal growth
  18. Availability of writing time
  19. Writing space
  20. Writing knowledge
  21. Writing support from others
  22. Writing ideas
  23. Writing organization
  24. Writing submissions
  25. Writing ability

By looking at these areas, you will gain awareness of what might be missing in your life, or what might be needed in your life. Why is balance so important? Here is an example: Let’s say, like many people, you are focusing 75 – 80% of your energy on one area of your life, if something happens to change that one area, you won’t feel like you have much of a life left. Maybe you put most of your energy into your job or a relationship. If you were to lose your job or that relationship were to end, you would be knocked so off balance that it would most likely feel as if your life has ended. Using these examples alone, can you imagine how something like the above might impact your writing?

Where is your life out of balance?

Where do you focus the majority of your attention?

What life areas are most satisfying? What areas are least satisfying?

Have you been putting parts of your life on pause? If you are like most people, self-care is one of the most common things to be neglected. Things such as fun, time with loved ones, and your health are often put off until a tomorrow that seldom comes.

WRITER’S WHOLE LIFE PERSPECTIVE “LIFE BALANCE” HOMEWORK

At the end of this post, you will find a “Wheel of Life for Creating Balance,” a “Health Wheel for Creating Balance,” and a “Writing Wheel for Creating Balance.” If you want to explore the facets of your life, duplicate these wheels and complete them as follows: Each section of the wheel represents an area in your life. With the center of the wheel rated as zero and the outer edge rated as ten, rank your level of satisfaction with each area of your life by coloring in the appropriate space (see the example below). Zero should be used to indicate that you are not satisfied at all, and 10 means that you are 100% satisfied.

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Copyright Alayne Kay Christian 2013

Once you have colored your wheels, look at the outer edges. Are they smooth and even? Or are they uneven? Imagine these wheels are on the car you are driving through life. How easily would the wheels turn? How bumpy would your ride be? Now, imagine that you have a deadline for a personal or professional writing commitment, but you must be traveling in this car. You have paper and pen in the car, and someone is driving for you. How many words do you think you would be able to write down during this crazy, bouncy ride? How good do you think the story would be? Do you think you would be able to make your deadline?

Keep your colored wheels for your visual representation when you come back for my next post.

Also, in preparation for my next post, please buy or make a journal. Any notebook will do. However, there is something to be said about having a “special” journal for exploring your “Writer’s Whole Life Perspective.” I had promised we would be doing some goal setting next, but I am honoring my right to change my mind. Besides, I suspect most of you have already satisfied your goal setting needs with the new year coming in. There are a few more steps in the process before it will be goal-setting time. Next, we will be looking deeper at the colored in wheels.

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I created a “Health” wheel separate from the “Wheel of Life” because I feel our wellbeing is the foundation for a balanced life. I also believe it is the part that often gets neglected the most.

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Copyright Alayne Kay Christian 2013

Your writing needs “for balance” might be different than the categories on my writing wheel. Feel free to create your own wheel based on what you believe is essential to your writing life.

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