Finding Balance

In my last post I talked about pushing yourself and reaching for the big goals, the ones you think about when you’re falling asleep but are afraid to admit out loud. Now I want to talk about balancing that with the rest of your life.

I’ve talked before about the sacrifices you have to make if you truly want to achieve your goals, but another way of looking at it is balance. If you want to write a novel, but you also have a day job and a family and you coach your son’s soccer team, you may have to cut out something else to find that time. For me, I don’t watch much TV. Yesterday (Sunday), I was home all day but the only time I watched TV was for half an hour while we ate lunch (hello, Fixer Upper), and the last five minutes of the Vikings vs. Saints game (what a finish!!). Instead, I spent the first half of the day finishing the first draft of the third book in the Rules Series (hooray!!), then the second half doing a final read of the second book (which comes out March 9!)

But I also made time for myself and my family. I exercised, did laundry, my mom came over for dinner and I helped her with some computer things, and the three of us ate at the kitchen table, away from the TV! (The bigger shock here is that we ate at that table. We use it for eating maybe twice a year.) When I went to bed last night I was exhausted, but I didn’t feel like I’d neglected anything that was important to me.

And that’s the trick. Figure out what’s important and do those things.

Last year I read a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight (yes, it’s very cursey), and in it Knight talks about choosing what’s important to you and doing those things. And more importantly, DON’T DO THE THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO. Easier said than done, right? Of course there will always be obligations that are less than desirable, but the balance comes when you purposefully choose where to spend your energy. The book reinforced a lot of what I was already thinking and it’s been very helpful navigating what’s important to me. And I’ve already bought her follow-up, Get Your Sh*t Together.

When we set big goals like WRITE A NOVEL, it can be easy to let the other things slip. But—and I can’t emphasize this enough—it’s important to find balance. You need to fuel your creative energy before you can expend it. And that’s different for everyone.

Here are a few of my favorite activities when I’m not writing:

  • reading
  • exercising or playing sports (preferably outdoors)
  • spending time with my husband (he’s usually involved in the sports)
  • playing with my dog
  • DIY projects
  • chatting with friends (usually online because they all live far away)
  • playing silly games on my phone

There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s what makes me happy. And while I may not do all those things every day, I try my best to fit them all in. The past couple months have been really heavy on the writing side, and I’m looking forward to switching gears and refinishing a pair of chairs that are waiting patiently in the basement. (One of them will go in my office, where I’ll write my next book.)

How do you find balance?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.

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