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My mission

I have a mission. It’s to make a living writing. Sure, I want to get published with a major house with a nice publicity budget, a super editor, and a superb cover with a hot guy on it. And I want a three- or four-book deal that leads to more deals.

But that’s all bonus stuff.

Bottom line, I want to make as much (or more) as I could if I went back to my old full-time job. I want the work I do every day to contribute to my household’s bottom line. I want to get paid to do what I love.

That’s my mission.

Great, but if the things I do each day don’t support making that happen, it’s not a mission, it’s a pipe dream.

I’ve been tracking my daily activities on a calendar for over a year now, and it’s illuminating. Even on days when I’m in front of the computer for over eight hours, I might be lucky to get in three or four hours of activity that directly supports my mission. By that I mean writing, editing, brainstorming, or research.

If an activity doesn’t fall into one of those four categories, it’s extraneous. Things like reading/responding to email. Keeping up with Twitter and Facebook. Work for my volunteer roles within my writing chapters. Blogging.

All may be useful or necessary. Building a network of writing friends, getting my name out there, developing a reputation. It’s hard to put a value on those tasks. But they cut into my mission-supporting work and I’m trying to be more efficient in how I approach them.

Of course, then my values come into play. I strive to put my health and my family first. That means working out and eating right. That meant quitting my stressful job with long hours so I could be more available for my boys. It means taking a break from my writing and non-writing tasks to spend time with my family when they’re around.

Gurus like Stephen R. Covey and Brian Tracy have written books chock full of excellent advice on how to balance your goals, write a mission statement for who and what you want to be, better manage your time, and stay motivated.

If you’re interested, maybe check one out.

What got me thinking about my mission was a brief presentation from the Deputy Chief of Police for Patrol. When he evaluates whether the department is doing its job well, and tries to determine what they should be focusing on, he asks one question: Does it support the mission?

What’s Patrol’s mission? To prevent crime.

That’s it. Simple, obvious, and to the point.

What’s your mission?

Do the things you focus your time and energy on support your mission?

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If you’re looking for my Citizens Police Academy post, check back on Sunday. 🙂

0 Comments

  1. Reply

    My mission is to be a published career writer with strong family bonds and friendships. Part of building my career is the extraneous stuff like blogging, etc. But I don’t actively seek out relationships with people based on what I believe they can do for me. I am just myself. and if that means I’ve got a few good friends in good places in the industry I love, great. But I try to remember that it is as much about how I give to others as it is about achieving the dream of being a published writer. If I lose my internal compass and forget that I’m no better than anyone else in any other profession or in this one, then I have lost something too valuable.

    I think you are on a roll. You’ve certainly come very far in a very short time. I’m impressed by your dedication and ability to juggle all the elements as well as to improve every day as a writer.

    Enjoy the journey!

    🙂

    • Reply

      Thanks, Christine! You hit on it exactly. I want to make friends, enjoy the journey, and give back when I can, but not at the expense of my ultimate goal. And yes, not at the expense of a large ego, either. 😉

  2. Reply

    I was doing really well at my mission of producing a book to call my own (publication, supporting my family as a writer… these are all missions to accomplish after the first one), until we moved to Texas. Something about the upheaval of moving… twice… left me unable to put thought to paper. Or computer.

    I was getting better again in February, and then I got my job. I’ve barely written since then. My husband and I discussed it, and I have now purchased an iPad (to be delivered in 3-4 weeks… ick), and I will use that to write at work. I have a bunch of free time at work, but don’t want to use my work comptuer for my book. This is the solution I have developed.

    Work comes first, of course. But when I honestly am bereft of anything to do, I’ll be able to work on my book.

    Two birds. One stone.

    Thanks for the post, though. It really hit home for me. I can’t expect to produce a great book if I am not working on a book at all. I need to get back to it, and shame on me for letting so much time pass.

    • Reply

      Kali: Glad to be your kick in the pants. 😉 It’s so easy to get sidetracked. I can so relate to the upheaval of moving, having done it twice in two years now. Cut yourself some slack.

      I go through phases throughout the year, and constantly have to reevaluate whether I’m working toward my mission. I think you’ve taken some great steps toward making it happen. Good luck!

  3. lito

    Reply

    thank you for expressing this so eloquently. one can never have enough reminders of the important things in life. you will achieve!

  4. Alison Stone

    Reply

    I can relate to your post, Gwen. About two years ago I had an epiphany that I wasn’t getting nearly enough stuff done toward accomplishing “the mission” which is the same as yours. I had used my kids as an excuse, then all of a sudden they were a little older and I no longer had a baby in the house, yet I wasn’t accomplishing more. Volunteer (mostly PTA stuff) and other activities filled my day, but didn’t contribute to a finished book. So, slowly, I have shifted my focus so that I can more quickly accomplish the goal of writing for a living. I still struggle (boy, the internet is a time suck), but I love posts like yours to remind me to focus. Apparently it seems to be working for you! Congrats…wishing you continued success.

    • Reply

      Alison: It seems like we (writers) have the same (or a similar) mission. But it really is easy to get sidetracked. I’ve cut way back on the extraneous stuff, but yeah, the Internet is still my biggest drain.

      When I was in grad school full time, working part time, had two little boys at home, was commuting an hour each way to school, and had a husband going to grad school at night, I accomplished an amazing amount. I think sometimes being forced to fit it all in keeps us focused. NaNo did that for me with this latest book. I’m trying to figure out how to recreate that same sense of urgency. Still working at it. 😉

      Anyway, thanks and good luck! I think you’re taking the right steps.

  5. Reply

    Hi Gwen,

    Great post and good luck to you.
    In a way I envy your mission. My “‘writing problem” is that I don’t have a mission like yours. I love my day job and staying on top of that requires the same sort of sacrifice of time and staying on task. Because it also involves a responsibility to the children I teach, I can’t sacrifice those hours for my writing. So for now, writing is my guilty pleasure rather than my mission.

    Best of luck on your mission. I’m confident in you.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Mary! I think we’re both lucky to be doing something we love. Before my mfg engineer job became a life-suck, I loved it. It was a daily challenge, and I always had something new to learn.

      I just feel fortunate to have found writing to take the place of those aspects. I still work long hours, but on my schedule and for me.

      What you do is important, and your students are lucky to have you. As long as you love it, it’s okay for that to be your mission.

  6. Reply

    Going on 2 interviews for full-time jobs gave me a mission in a hurry- to never, ever have to have one of those 9-5 jobs and still make enough money to travel and not be paycheck to paycheck. But the day-to-day grind with 2 young kids at home kills productivity. If only I could spend 8 hours just 1 day a week. I’m lucky to get 4 1/2 a few days a week. Right now, though, my mission is at a stand-still. Something about waiting for rejections makes it very hard to think and write 😛

    • Reply

      I know what you mean, Lisa. And it’s hard to carve out that time, especially when the kids are little. Which, maybe is okay, because they’re only little once.

      Four hours several days a week is actually really good, and shows that you’re finding a way to make it happen. There are plenty of writers with no excuses who don’t do half that much.

      And, yeah, rejections can suck the motivation, but every word written makes you a better writer. It’s so easy to look at a published author and think she never went through this, but when they start telling their stories, you realize they got the Rs and wrote 3-7 manuscripts and struggled with it all before they sold too.

      Keep at it!

  7. Reply

    Ohhh I hear you!

    It’s such a struggle to be where you need to be when you need to be there, and to be able to identify what is extraneous (because it may not be, at any given time).

    Here’s another “guru” to add to your list. I love his approach to carving out a life despite the million directions we are pulled in and within a techno world:
    http://www.williampowers.com/

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