Last week I finally wrote in my chunky green Kate Spade agenda (with the corny, but appreciated “SHE’S QUICK AND CURIOUS AND PLAYFUL AND STRONG” on its cover) a schedule of desired post-work activity.
It’s nothing profound. I haven’t blocked off two-hour chunks to interview digital marketing or self-help gurus. I haven’t booked eight 15-minute coffee breaks to meet big players in my town. And I’m not waking up at 4:30 a.m. The schedule’s not even very specific. I set it up so M/W/F I’m “assigned” to work on my job hunt, and T/Th I’ve dedicated the pre-husband-arrival to writing. It’s basic, but it’s a start. I work from 7a-3p so really this plan has to work.
I’ve been obsessed with writing lists since, well, before Buzzfeed was a thing. Whether it was items I had to buy at the grocery store, friends I had to call or email, or “Thank You” cards I wanted to send for spontaneous acts of kindness, if it wasn’t on a list it probably didn’t get done. I tried dumping writing goals on one of these said lists and it just got lost in my chicken-scratch life shuffle of laundry and Home Depot runs.
For months I’ve been struggling with finding a balance between doing the job I get paid to do and setting aside time during the rest of the fleeting day to work on the Monica betterment project. I fell for every link on the web that promised self-improvement and hyper-productivity. You know who you are, Business Insider. As in “10 easy steps to accomplishing more every day” or “adopt these habits of the rich and famous” and “billionaires suggest doing this one thing every morning.” I finally realized I was beating a dead sloth by reading these ridiculous excuses for URLs.
After one-too-many clicks, I forced myself to stop reading about how I might achieve my goals. Instead I have actively started working towards achieving them. What a novel concept. Which leads me to the title of this post: more, more, more, more, more and then some.
I want to read more. I’ve stopped watching TV about an hour earlier each night to go read in bed. My husband isn’t convinced this is contributing to the Monica betterment project, particularly when I explained to him I was reading a love story by Anne Bronte, but if you want to write, you’ve got to read. And I’d become an embarrassingly lazy reader over the past decade.
I want to write more. I want to be a published author. Not a self-published author. Though that may be the course I take with a currently-being-shopped children’s picture book MS. But a no-nonsense, real actual paid-to-write-books author. And not everything I write has to be part of a manuscript, right? If I can write on different platforms about various topics (my blog, for instance, on Medium and the occasional online first-person essay), I know I will benefit from these efforts.
I want to submit more. I went to a helpful panel at my local library about book publishing and one of the guest speakers said, “Submit, submit, submit.” If you don’t submit your work, how will you progress? And learn what you’re doing well or terribly? I have only just started to scratch the surface of this practice (I submitted to a contest this week and I’m in the process of submitting two essays to various digital editors), but I need to do more of it.
I want to move to a place I literally can’t wait to wake up in every day. I realized while visiting my parents in Carmel, Calif., last week that life is too short to live in a place you feel no jazz for. Whatsoever. Which is how I feel about the midlands of South Carolina. No disrespect to natives of this area, but it’s just not for me. Or my family and the lifestyle we became used to in California.
I want to network more. Finding a new job (the ticket that will take us to our new jazzy home) is one of my top priorities right now, and I realize it will be difficult from my work-from-home bubble of isolation. I opened my LinkedIn page for the first time in weeks today and decided it was worth bouncing around for a while and adding a few more contacts. I’m a member of #Binders on Facebook, though you’d never know it. I’ve been a ghost there for the past year since I joined. I am now trying to engage daily with some of the incredibly talented women in this group.
Lately I’ve had a dream to start my own business designing something. I have a couple ideas of what that something might be, but I have never taken a course in fashion. I am not an artist. I barely know how to sew. But I have the bug to create something fun and stylish and once I get into the groove of alternating days between job-hunting and writing in my spare time, I hope to work business planning/research into the mix.
I’m turning 37 this year. And with this big number that’s quickly approaching 4–0, comes an inner GPS voice telling me to reroute and get busy. I’ve skated along with the status quo for too long. And now I just want more.