By Cynthia Verspaget
I confess, I am writing this because I can’t get my brain past a writing roadblock for my postgraduate study. Writing makes you a better writer (or so I have been told) so I am combining two tasks I feel I have been inhibited by my increasing daily schedule – that of being a contributor to my creative community counterparts and that of finishing my study. I have been pondering during this period of task limbo on my guilt over not achieving all of the things I need to do on my list and fair warning I tell anyone who will listen in a kind of attempt to get a social supportive hug from ‘the collective’. I know others like me are out there because creativity seduces people like us; we are the do-ers of the world.
So, here’s what I am doing with my life currently (I did warn you!). I study full time and am in the last year of a very long PhD, I work almost full time as a sessional academic (which never has clear work time boundaries), I am undertaking staff training this month and its intensive, and I am trying to run a creative business making jewellery and home wares with my partner Adam – who also has a full plate! For others, its being a new mother or an experienced mother with other young ones in the mix, running a business and working a regular (or sometimes not) job, for the men its usually looking after the unpaid jobs for everyone, working long hours, being a father and/or a good husband and running a business. It’s just not easy being creative these days because for a long period, to get towards ‘success’ (whatever that is), we need to support ourselves and those we love in more practical ways. In all of that gurgling tumultuous ocean, we can somehow forget to support those we love in more intangible ways.
I have been working towards trying to get everything practical done and through realising I let some other important things slip be it practical or that intangible stuff, I have hit a beautiful wall of forgiveness – in all likelihood the reality is, I won’t get it all done. I am sort of becoming OK with that! I am starting to see that the guilt I feel is about some misconception of what it is to be a complete human being. Practical and the intangible stuff that I find myself doing in life is part of an organic process. Not finishing something today is maybe not meant to be finished today. I am not solving the world’s problems, I am trying to make my world a little better in some way be it financially or emotionally. Furthermore, it’s not the tasks that make me complete but how I treat myself so I and others who love me can actually enjoy me and my life!
Tara Gentile talks about how she manages this by releasing some of those tasks we think must be done into the ‘it can wait’ section of the bench. I like that approach because as your responsibilities increase you realise that what you thought was important turns out to be quite unimportant. For Tara, the dishes might be able to wait tonight, for me, if someone comes around and sees my mess (which I expect to be there for the next year) who actually cares? We know we care more if our babies have a healthy mother, we know we care more if our hearts feel fulfilled – we know this! Dishes look silly in importance next to that fulfillment stuff.
So here are some tips I have started implementing and I am not going to lie to you, you will fall off the guilt free band wagon because we are just more complex than we give ourselves credit for but these tips have been helping me to remind myself that guilt is for the guilty! And I am not actually guilty of anything!
They don’t call it juggling for nothing. This idea that we should do A, B and C then A again isn’t always practical. I don’t juggle well, if I did I would have run away to join the circus a long time ago. If you can combine things – do it. Right now I am writing this because I need to get my motor functions hooked up with my writer’s brain for my study. I am killing both the robin and the raven with one giant rock because I am also fulfilling my desire to contribute to the creative community.
Procrastination is good!
I call it “setting up business foundations” sure it’s a word thing but it makes sense too. Procrastination isn’t a bad thing if it leads to productivity later. You just need to ask yourself and be honest whether you are following the next rule (taking time out) or whether you are setting up some good healthy foundations for productivity because this helps you feel less guilty about what it is you are doing. But either way, taking time out or organising papers or pens are both ways of setting up for productivity later. Procrastination is not a dirty word – embrace it and let it happen because it always leads somewhere good.
Take time out
Gosh how many times have you heard that one?! It’s ever-present for a reason. Everyone and everything needs a break even machinery. What happens if we don’t switch off now and then? Our pistons melt. You need to be functional, especially with everything that’s on your plate. It’s such a surprise how much can be achieved when you release yourself from self slavery now and then and just breathe. This brings me to my next point…
Guilt is for the guilty. Seriously, you have done nothing wrong by trying to make a living and be a great mum, provider… (or insert other role here) but it’s all valid time stuff. Taking care of the role though is all about taking care of the person who plays it. The major tasks may need to be shaken off for today. Isn’t the best gift you can give those you love, a healthy happy parent/wife/husband/provider? You should never feel guilty about wanting this ultimate gift for the loved ones in your life and if it takes you dropping a meeting, or doing an all nighter tomorrow and spending time having a soak in the bath or taking a walk in the park today then just forgive yourself already and do it! You are your best asset in business and in life, think of loving yourself as a fantastic insurance policy! All the rest is gravy.
Either way, we need to be kinder to ourselves and realise that we are the force behind our lives, our desires, and our pursuits and it serves no one let alone our businesses to be abusing ourselves through work and sacrificing the important concept and action of creating balance. It’s time to forgive yourself if you are inclined to feel guilty about commitments you may have missed today, to stop questioning yourselves if you find yourself procrastinating and just living in the moment because that is often where we find we are present in the lives of those we do all of this for and that is what is most important. The rest can wait until tomorrow.