40-Day Challenge: Telling the Stories That Matter Most

Photo/KarenJordanIn your busy life, how do you determine which things matter most?

A close examination of our priorities helps a lot. But often in the process of prioritizing, we realize that we’ve neglected some of our greatest concerns—like our health, marriage, children, or faith.

Priorities. As a writer, I have dropped the ball on some of my most important projects. I rationalize my failure to follow through with lame excuses. But I sometimes struggle staying focused on my main objective—telling the stories that matter most.

My daughter Tara phoned me with a similar complaint about her home life. “I can’t seem to get to the things that matter most to me.”

As Tara voiced her frustration, I understood her dilemma. Day after day, she faces the impossible task of meeting her family’s needs, having four small children in her home.

Prayer. The same issues haunt me, even though we have an empty nest. And I know that I must choose prayer as my first step to address any problem or decision.

James 1:5-6 promises, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help … Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought” (MSG).

Like Tara, I frequently ask advice from someone who will give me honest input. My husband Dan offers ideas about my organizational problems. But I also consult other reputable resources, like online links, book, or professionals.

40-Day Challenge. Do you need to reboot your writing life, too? I challenge you to accept this 40-day challenge to tell the stories that matter most to you. I’m working through this process myself.

  • Identify the “real meaning” of your work—your purpose, your audience, and the context for your stories. This evaluation process includes answering several vital questions. Why do I do what I do? Who will be reading or hearing my stories? What do I plan to do with my stories? Will I submit them for publication? If so, where?
  • Define some SMART goals and write them down. Goals help guide our decision-making. Without goals, we often neglect to do the things that matter most.

    • S – Specific (or Significant)
    • M – Measurable (or Meaningful)
    • A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented)
    • R – Relevant (or Rewarding)
    • T – Time-bound (or Trackable)
  • Set up tasks for attaining your goals. Write down several reasonable and do-able steps for achieving your goals to help you plan and focus on the right things.
  • Compose a “to do” list, prioritizing all of your tasks. Schedule time on your calendar to work on your goals. This will help you stay on track with your deadlines and defend your time boundaries. It also helps communicate your goals to the people who matter most to you.

I hope that you will join me on this 40-day challenge because when we begin to tell the stories that matter most, lives change and hearts heal.

What goal-setting techniques help you tell the stories that matter most to you?

18 Replies to “40-Day Challenge: Telling the Stories That Matter Most”

  1. Writing when you feel like it… Writing when a strong memory hits you… That’s the only way to stay authentic. As soon as you force yourself it won’t be good. Challenge accepted, I started 🙂 I wish you more people who will join this 🙂

      1. my name is becky 🙂 well, at least my nickname (my parents managed to give me a name nobody can remember, write or pronounce haha) I’ll try to keep you updated, but feel free to check out my blog if I forget 🙂 inspiration is weird, once you have it you forget about the world 😀

    1. Becky, I read a couple of your blog posts. I was especially interested in the one entitled, “Death Valley.” You stated that you “frequently have to work with highly infectious tissue.” We’re you referring to CJD? My mom died of that a few years ago. So, I’m very interested in your thoughts. Would love to hear more about your research in that area. Thx!

      1. Thanks for reading! I’m sorry about your mum 😦 When I have more time I’ll read more from you, I hope you have written about that. My research topic is not CDJ, I work with viruses most of the time, but I’m in a lab for ruminants’ diseases so I do have experience with BSE although it’s not the topic of my dissertation. I was referring to two diseases in that post, one of them is indeed CJD. I’ll try to write more about my work in future. Didn’t think about that before, but you’re right, I should write more about it.

  2. I need to reboot, too, Karen, so I’m in. But, ah, today I’ve already got my plate full – can I start tomorrow? No, wait. How about Monday?
    THIS is why I AM going to do this challenge – starting right now! Thanks for the wisdom, Karen!

  3. Excellent. I’ll share with my writing tribe. Currently I’m heavily involved in your point about identifying “the ‘real meaning’ of your work—your purpose, your audience, and the context for your stories. This evaluation process includes answering several vital questions. Why do I do what I do? Who will be reading or hearing my stories? What do I plan to do with my stories? Will I submit them for publication? If so, where?” It makes my heart pound. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement, specifics, and the challenge.

    1. So glad these thoughts help you, Linda. This week my priority was revising my website/blog so I’ll have a decent online platform for some of my stories. Keep in touch!

  4. I find if I don’t set a goal, I don’t get it done. So I act like I have a publishing deadline, “This draft needs to be done by October 31st”, for example. Or else I won’t be able to start a new book for NaNoWriMo. And of course, NaNoWriMo is a great deadline in itself.

    1. Yes, goals & deadlines are essential. That’s been a big part of my problem as I set my own. I’m tempted to fudge a little – like I do with my diet & exercise goals. But I just pick myself up & begin again. Best wishes with NanNoWriMo!

  5. I read your post with interest as just this week I was challenged by a writer friend to consider what my purpose was in writing my story and what steps have I considered in reaching my goal. It reinforces your SMART acronym to guide my future projects. I’ll be on board with this 40 day challenge as I need to have this guideline to keep me focused on what the Lord has laid on my heart. Thanks for your keen insight to aid others in their quest.

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