4 Strategies to Examine Your Life and Work Priorities

At times, I get exhausted chasing all of my writing ideas and plans.

I’m tempted to give up when I look at my “to do” list. But after examining the lessons I learned about rearranging furniture, I realized I needed to reposition a few things in my writing life, too.

This process included examining my priorities, resolving some internal and external conflicts, developing a strategy, and asking for help.

1.  Examine your priorities. Right now, I’m overwhelmed with many of the projects I face. So, I decided to visit my priorities again in all of my writing, blogging, and speaking commitments.

I also know that I need to be willing to make changes. Last week’s priority may not even be in the top ten on my “to do” list today. But often it takes a conflict or a stumble to get my attention.

2. Resolve internal and external conflicts. I often take on more commitments than I can handle. Do you? And this causes me humiliation and embarrassment as I’m faced with making choices that others won’t understand.

For instance, a few weeks ago, I traveled out of town to speak at two separate events, leaving only one day to prepare for my next event. Although I had prepared most of my materials, I became overwhelmed as I sorted through the last minute details.

Then, the day after I returned home, I drove a couple of hours to spend a few days at my daughter’s home. She needed a little moral support, preparing to send her four young children back to school and tackling some household projects.

When I returned home again, not only did I need some rest, I needed to sort a few things in my own house, including my writing life.

3.  Develop a strategy. I asked myself, What should I do to meet my writing needs right now? 

I knew I needed to develop a new strategy. Writing down all of my commitments helped me examine them, so I could get a more objective view of my writing decisions.

So, as I reviewed my calendar and my “to do” list, I also asked myself some hard questions. Why did I commit to this endeavor? Am I passionate about this?

Often, I can’t see my own life objectively until I examine it on paper. And sometimes, that process doesn’t even work. So, that’s when I call in the troops.

4.  Recruit a friend for help. I’m grateful for a few family members and writing friends who will be honest with me when I ask for their input about my schedule.

Sometimes the looks on their faces say it all, “What were you thinking?”

At other times, they encourage me, “Don’t give up! You can do this thing!”

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Eccl. 4:12 NIV)

If you’re overwhelmed in your life—whether you’re a writer or not—don’t give up!

I encourage you to examine your priorities, resolve those internal and external conflicts, develop a strategy, and maybe even call in the troops for some help.

What strategies have helped you as you examine your life and work priorities?

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Living on Easy Street

Photo/TaraRossBut easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. (Phil. 3:19 MSG)

I used to think that I wanted to live on Easy Street. You know, where you could have anything you want, anytime you want it.

Thankfully, the Lord knows what I need, and it’s not always the way I want.

In fact, I’ve noticed many people who seem to enjoy all the material possessions that they want, but they lack what they really need. They may even boast that they “have it all.” But a closer inspection might expose the truth about their situation. Many of them pay a big price for riches, fame, and beauty.

Dead-end street. I’ve discovered that there is much more to life than focusing on myself. Talk about a dead-end street!

What if I could attain all the world has to offer? Can I take riches and fame with me when I die?

What if I could have a dramatic makeover and become the most beautiful woman in the world? Could I maintain that beauty forever as my body ages?

What if I wrote a best-selling book? Would that be enough?

Would any of those successes last for eternity?

Priorities. What do I need to focus on in my life? If I knew I had only a short time to live, how could I determine my priorities?

No one really wants to consider these provocative questions. But often, I need a reality check, so I can bring my head out of the clouds to focus on the right things.

So, I’ve decided not to dream about Easy Street any longer, because the most important things in life are not just about me.

Wisdom. Every stage in life brings new challenges, changes, and blessings. But not everyone gains wisdom with age. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (Jms. 1:5 NIV).

Do you need wisdom as you face the unfolding challenges of your life? Are you struggling to define your priorities and set goals? Would a new directive for your life help?

I’ve chosen to stop desiring Easy Street and focus on a new vision with an eternal purpose.

… there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him (Phil. 3:20-21 MSG).

How did you determine your priorities this year? How has your focus changed over the years?

Photo/TaraRoss

There’s Only One King of the Hill

Kids Playing in the DirtIt couldn’t have been more than a few yards of black gumbo dirt, but it was prime real estate in our grade school perspective. The Hill sat on the playground of a now defunct country school once known as Briarfield South. Perched on the side of a drainage ditch that ran alongside a cotton field, The Hill doled out dirty jeans and scraped knees to all comers and transitory crowns to a select few who managed to make it to the summit.

Reaching the top meant one had successfully outmaneuvered the opposition. This was quite a feat and one to be fully celebrated, for the moment of glory was destined to be short-lived. No resting on your laurels. If the recess bell didn’t require you to surrender your throne, there was always another valiant warrior headed your way who was bent on taking you down.

Memories of The Hill have me thinking about Writing World. Sometimes, when I’m surrounded by other authors at a book festival or similar public event, I’m tempted to check out the knees of my fellow wordsmiths who have made it up the rugged publishing hill. We all know that here in Publisher Land, you’re only as successful as your last book. The next contract rests on your latest sales numbers. If getting published is an uphill climb, staying published can be like writing on a tight rope without a net. Let me be clear. If I’m not diligent to keep this thing surrendered to the Lord I can succumb to the anxiety just as often and just as quickly as my peers who make no claims of following Jesus.

The uncertainty of Publisher Land is just one more reason to be grateful for the solid rock beneath my spiritual feet. It’s such a welcome relief to rest on the One who has fully saved and fully accepted me. Hebrews 7:25 reads, “Therefore, because he always lives to intercede for them, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him.”

The blessed news is that I’m not on a continual evaluation with my God. Oh, He’s still working on me and with me, (the high dollar word for that process is sanctification), and He’ll keep working on me until He presents me before His Father and mine, redeemed and glorified. But I don’t have to fight and scratch to hold onto my place in His heart and neither do you! Our work is to keep Him in His rightful place in ours.

Hugs,
Shellie