Thursday, September 08, 2011

Just Do One Thing

When I first decided I was serious about writing, about four years ago, I struggled and flailed. It was so hard to have a part-time job and be a full-time mom and carve out time for a fairly new relationship and try to write, too. It was a huge task, too huge to really comprehend, let alone succeed at. But Kaz (my beloved) gave me a wonderful piece of advice, advice he had used to get back into a painting routine: Just do one thing every day. It doesn't matter what you do or how much you do it--the act of doing something that contributes to your goal will get the ball moving and make you feel better about yourself.

You can really use this advice to help you meet any challenge. Learn to cook? Just make one dish every day. Declutter your house? Just get rid of one thing every day. But right now I'm going to use it to meet a challenge that shouldn't even be a challenge. I'm going to try to do just one thing every day that makes me purely happy.

Let me explain.

See, writing makes me happy--just about nothing else in this world can make me as happy as losing myself in words for an hour or two. But writing is also all about goals and careers and the future, so even though it makes me happy, it also brings with it all kinds of heavy emotional overtones. Plus, sometimes writing makes me cranky. It doesn't always go well, right?

But playing my dulcimer? There's absolutely no reason whatsoever for me to play it. I don't want to be folk singer. I don't plan on performing anywhere. There is nobody else counting on me to play my dulcimer. It's just pure fun.

Crocheting and sewing: same thing. I can buy any hat or outfit I want, and probably for less money than if I made it! There's no real reason to craft. But it's totally fun, and I enjoy it with all my heart. And the last time I sewed? Well, I made The Kid a flower girl dress for my best friend's wedding. Nowadays, a stuffed penguin is wearing that dress and my best friend has already finalized her divorce papers.

Yes, I love writing. And I love my editorial work. I love it so much I have to slap myself silly and remind myself that there are other parts of my life and my self that deserve attention. Just one small bit of attention each day.

What are some projects you've been putting off or challenges you haven't known how to tackle? Can you use the "Just do one thing" method to help? I want to hear about it!


G said...

omg i needed this right now.. thank you...

yah, I'm struggling a bit with balance at the moment; that whole thing you said, about emotional overtones that come with pursuing a career in the creative arts? Yep. That.

letsee.... If I was gonna do one thing to make me happy right now, it'd probably be to go for a hike.

Can't fit that in today.... but I'll have to see if I can work that into this weekend somewhere. Yah, I should really do that.

(for today... hm, I'll have to keep thinking about that.)


JohnR said...

"See, writing makes me happy--just about nothing else in this world can make me as happy as losing myself in words for an hour or two."

This makes me happy. :)

I have this same frustration, especially with health goals, and physical therapy. But this reminds me that some is better than none. I'm going to try to take that approach more. Thanks.

Cate Gardner said...

Well I've just typed up a to do list with fifteen things on it and now that I have my list I feel less weighed down (plus I've completed two tasks so far). The one thing at a time definitely works.

G said...

"The one thing at a time definitely works."


oh, and putting all the deadlines and projects on my calendar, that has helped *a lot* too :)