I crawled out of bed at 5:30 AM this morning, tired, groggy, sore, and knowing I didn’t get anywhere enough sleep.
You know the routine: Start the pot of coffee, brush your teeth, get in the shower, and then throw on some clothes, pack the lunch, wake up the kids, get them dressed, grab the coffee mug, and get everybody into the car.
The morning commute is actually pretty nice. It takes just under an hour, but when it’s that early there’s no other traffic. I drink coffee, listen to an audio book (if the kids aren’t causing too much trouble in the back seat), and just prepare for the day. By the time I walk into the office, I’ve already been up for a couple of hours and have drunk enough coffee to feel like a million bucks.
I don’t by any means hate my IT job, nor my place of employment, nor my co-workers. I even consider some of them good friends.
But none of that is what drives me to stay up way too late and get up way too early. Nothing I do in the day job involves my real passion. My calling, as they say, is writing. And everything else I do, outside of family and work is dedicated to answering that call.
That staying up for an hour or two writing after we put the kids down for the night. It means that my wife and kids have to expect me to disappear for a few hours on a Saturday afternoons. Sometimes it even means disappearing for an entire day to catch up on revisions or meet a self-imposed deadline.
It means I pretty much have to eat, sleep, and breathe my dream, if I want it to happen.
So let’s back up a second. I’m not trying to claim that I’m any kind of saint or martyr or anything like that. What I am trying to do is illustrate that if something is important to you–really important to you–you have to be ready to work for it.
You have to be willing to sacrifice everything. When I say that everything I do outside of family and work is dedicated to making it as a writer, I literally mean everything. I don’t watch TV. I can’t tell you who died this week on Game of Thrones or how you met your mother. To me Bryan Cranston is still the dorky dad from Malcolm in the Middle. And, sadly, I haven’t played a video game in years.
Now, I’m not here to tell you to stop watching TV.
Actually, that’s a lie. That’s exactly what I’m doing.
At least metaphorically. If you want to succeed in one area, you must turn off the distractions that get in the way. That could be the schlock they put on network prime time. It could be Angry Birds on your phone (do people still play that one?), it could be sports, it could be politics, it could be TMZ. Whatever it is, you need to kick it out of your life immediately.
You need to look at everything you do outside of family and work and ask yourself: “How will this action help me reach my goal?”
If you have no answer to that question, then turn it off.
But don’t ever forget what’s most important
Obviously, there are a few things more important than your dreams.
Family, kids in particular, take precedence over everything else. Back when my five-year-old was only a three-year-old, he would throw a fit when I took off to go write for the afternoon. A tame, non-annoying fit, but a fit nonetheless. He didn’t want his daddy to leave and begged me to just write in the basement instead of the coffee shop. Some tears tears are just too hard to argue against.
So instead, I hang out with the kids for a little while and retreat to the basement to write.
Make adjustments, right? And the just write.
What it comes down to is this: What do you want? How bad do you want it? What are you willing to give up to get it?
What about you? What sacrifices are you making to reach your writing goals?