In theory, there’s no reason to make resolutions just because it’s the start of a new year, but where there’s an excuse to make a list and potentially tick things off, count me in. I don’t usually make long or detailed resolutions – I hand-pick a handful of broad goals and write them on the back of an envelope, then leave it on my bedside locker.
This year, I decided to follow Kate Takes 5’s lead, and try a One Word resolution – literally choosing one word that puts all of your goals in focus. So I had a look at what’s not working to see if I could narrow it down to a single-word goal.
Drop the Drop Everything
When work is busy, I tend to drop everything else. Writing work is hard-won, and I’m still establishing myself, so I want to give 100% to everything I write. That can mean that Saturday and Sunday mornings are spent working, where I used to take that time to go running or to Pilates. I went for a run last night – my first in too-embarrassing-to-confess-number-of weeks, and I realised how much I get out of it. I also nearly killed myself, and was sure I’d dislocated my hip by the time I limped home, but it felt so good.
It’s reasonable to drop everything for work when you’re new, and I’ll allow it for the year that’s just gone by, but from here on in, I need to leave time for other things too.
Drop the Panic
My biggest fail over the last few months has been panicking every time there’s too much work and even more so every time there’s not enough. I talked to someone recently who has been freelancing for twelve years, and she said she still gets worried every time things taper off. So I need to accept that this is life in self-employment world, and stop wasting energy worrying. I already know this goal will never be entirely achievable, but I will try.
Build up the Boundaries
In my old job, I had clear work-home boundaries. When I got in from the office, I’d focus (mostly) on the kids, and there was no urgent need to check work email while they were still up. But now the lines are blurred. If I get an email at 3 o’clock in the afternoon that needs an immediate response, I can’t say “Sorry, I’m doing phonics with a six-year-old so you’ll just have to wait.” Well, I could, but it probably wouldn’t help me to build up work.
But then the blurring creeps in. I start out checking emails and find myself on Facebook. I do some edits and end up on Twitter. Which is fine if homework is done and the kids are playing and I need ten minutes with a cup of coffee and the internet, but not when it’s unintentional.
So, I need to set some ground-rules for myself, about really being present for the kids when I’m with them. Otherwise the whole idea of working from home around the kids’ school hours loses some of its value.
I have a problem with speaking and it’s twofold. Sometimes I don’t speak up – I avoid confrontation, even if eventually it puts me in an awkward position (think: not asking upfront what the fee for an article is, or not confessing to a friend that I have the thing she’s just been scathingly criticising, but then failing to prevent her finding out.) On the flip side, I speak too much. I fill silences, and sometimes say the wrong thing, because my mouth is working faster than my brain. I saw an article recently that touched on this, and the writer is using the acronym W.A.I.T. to deal with it: “Why am I talking?” I could do with waiting sometimes, and sometimes I need to speak up. That’s a goal for 2016 – to get that right.
So back to finding one word – I think it’s BALANCE. Keep running, even when work is busy. Don’t panic when it’s not. Answer the emails, then put the phone away. Talk but not always. Less ricocheting, more balance.
Now to fit all of that on the envelope.