Postponing the Urgent for the Important

Yesterday was the first Monday of the new year, which also marked the first day my kids were in school since Dec. 19. That meant it was my first chance to sit down and plot out my roadmap for reaching my goals in 2015.

I’ve been thinking and strategizing in my head, but I wanted to actually create a tangible plan of action. But then my inbox started exploding, my phone started ringing, and the five hours of uninterrupted daily work time I had got eaten up with, well, work.

I made zero progress on the passion projects I want to pursue this year. The ones that are still partially finished or alive only in my mind. The ones I need to finish for myself.

Then I picked up my tired and hungry kids from school and we launched into our afternoon/evening routine. The constant hopping from one thing to the next—snacks, homework, hockey practice, dinner, baths, reading—left me frazzled. That first day back in a routine took its toll on all of us! After I tucked my kids into bed, I had more real work to tackle, leaving my plotting for another day. My grand day-of-planning had been a bust, and I was disappointed.

But as I was brushing my teeth, I read Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog post Forever Tries on the many things that need her attention and how she simply can’t get to them all.

“If your hands are too full to grab that idea out of the air, let it go. To have your hands full is a ludicrous blessing. So if you must—if you must let go of the urgent to tend to the important, then do it, you lucky dog. Let it go, smile and let that idea or opportunity pass onto another sister knowing that more will come. There is always more on its way—more opportunities, more ideas, more love,” she wrote.

By the time I fell into bed (next to a whimpering four year old who has not slept through the night since Halloween), I remembered how lucky I am—lucky to have a little girl and a family who need me and a house that I’m slowly making into a home. Lucky to have kids who have endless appetites and are healthy and strong enough to play hockey and dance and swim. Lucky to have clients who trust me and give me a steady stream of freelance work—work that let’s me live the lifestyle I want and gives me so much more time with my kiddos. I am so, so grateful for them and the work they send my way.

I am confident that my ideas will wait. The projects I’m truly meant to tackle will be there for me when the time is right. Or, like Glennon said, they can flow on to someone who can shepherd them through to fruition. I wasn’t going to check everything off of my to-do list in one day anyway, so it is ridiculous to put so much faith in one little Monday. Besides, I have 51 more this year. Life is a marathon and not a sprint, even if it seems like it would be easier to race right to the finish line.

When Evan was three, I took him to watch the Washington Capitals hockey team practice. As my little guy sat pressed up against the glass, I started chatting with a grandmother who was there to watch her grandson play. We talked for the whole hour about motherhood and family (how I wish I could remember her name or the player).

She shared so much advice, but the one thing that stuck with me the most was that we’re all a tapestry. Everything, even the things we don’t remember and our kids don’t remember, become a part of our fabric. I think of that every time I stop to blow a dandelion or pick up a pretty rock with my kids, and I think it of it on my crazy, hectic, love-filled and sometimes frustrating days.

Those days are just important as the quiet, everything-goes-as-it-should ones. Maybe even more so. They’re a part of us. They give us depth and understanding and empathy. I like to think that every day that passes as I do pursue my passion projects is preparing me to for the projects that are a perfect fit for me. I’ll find the little pockets of time to pursue them here and there, even if they aren’t tended to every single day. They’ll show themselves when the time is right.

My Best Advice for Overcoming Self-Doubt

IMG: BaseballMy little guy has his first baseball game of the season today. I was hoping he’d be excited for it. Instead, he is nervous. He is worried he’ll make a mistake. He feels like everyone else is better at it than he is and he is afraid that his teammates won’t understand that he is still learning.

I’ve told him everything will be fine, but I know how he feels. Haven’t we all been there?

I’ve assured him that everyone is there to learn, that the goal is to have fun and that mistakes are okay. I tell him that if you aren’t making mistakes, then you aren’t learning. He nods, but I know I haven’t changed how he is feeling in his heart. He has self-doubt, and self-doubt has killed more dreams than anything else in this world.

I know the only way to quell your insecurities is from the inside. He has to learn to overcome his fears in his own way, because one day I won’t be there to force him to keep going or to cheer him on.

I draw on the line my mom told me over and over and over growing up: Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Image: Don't let fear stop you.I say the words to him and smile inside. I think by my teens I started rolling my eyes when my mom would share that advice. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve repeated those words to myself.

I heard them the day I quit my job to go freelance. They echoed in my ears when I first called on potential clients, and I still say then any time I have to do something difficult.

So, I pass the advice on to Evan. It may not mean much today, and one day he’ll probably roll his eyes at me. But my hope is that when it counts, when he is faced with the choice of finding the courage or walking away, he’ll tell himself to feel the fear and do it anyway.