Focus and Planning Undone
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that plans can be destroyed and without notice. Our focus, intentions, and goals can be pushed to the side to gather cobwebs while we put out fires, pay attention to other people’s needs, and lose opportunities. And in this we feel we have no control over any of it. Believe me – I know this all too well.
I had big grand plans for 2016. Those plans got pushed to the side when I was diagnosed with cancer that January. So when quarantine this past year put us all in a similar spot, those same frustrations, feelings, and standstill reactions came back. But I felt different this time. I wanted to process why I felt different and what I could do to help the people I know overcome the frustrations they were feeling. It broke my heart to see it and I wanted to fix it. So, here are my thoughts on why it was different for me and how you might cope when your plans and focus come undone by unforeseen circumstances.
So what do you do when your plans are seemingly trashed?
Question yourself. Are they really trashed? Or is there another way? (Like Maria says in The Sound of Music “When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window”.) Is this just an obstacle or flat slam of the door in your face with no escape? Are you overreacting like my youngest does when she only has jeans as an option to wear? Or do you have another cute skirt stuffed way back in the drawer?
Last year, I was happily plugging away at doing my work every day with time to run, time to be in my garden, time to do whatever I wanted to do while my girls were at school. Then the call came that they would be out of school for 2 weeks, then that turned into, well as of this writing they are still at home. Yes, I had a moment of frustration and stress when I realized this may be long term but I knew I couldn’t let my vision go. I had to work my plan even with them at home. And with them at home, creating art was hard to do. I had to find another way.
As I mentioned in the last post, I took stock of my minutes and found the time to do what I needed. I worked, super focused, in the morning, I had my kids ride their bikes with me while I ran, I encouraged them to help me outside. In other words, I found a way to do everything I was doing before, but more focused and actually when it came to housework, more help. It took more drive, and it took an amount of time to figure it out and create habits. It wasn’t easy but there was a way.
If you see your plans as trashed anyway, ask yourself if they were really that important. Are they worth doing?
Towards the end of my recovery from radiation and surgeries, I found myself frustrated and really ready to do what I wanted again. But it was in this time that I realized the grand plans I’d made were actually not that important to me. Instead I had to discover a new vision that I was confident in and one that I would follow through with no matter what. I had to let my plans burn and start anew.
Leave Wiggle Room
It’s simple. Plan but don’t let your plans control you. It’s a push and pull between sticking to your plan and letting some things go or moving things around. Of course we can’t predict the future and we can’t predict things out of our control. So allow yourself wiggle room in your plans. Let go of the things that aren’t important, eliminate distraction, and move things when they need moving. I love lists, and I love marking things off of lists so sometimes it kills me to mess with my plans and lists but I can’t tie myself to them. I began making a plan for only 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – suggested by a current mentor) and it’s been a relief to me when I don’t finish everything on Monday, I have Tuesday to wrap it up. And if I do finish, I can work ahead and do Wednesdays on Tuesday. It allows for so much more flexibility. I also prioritize what has to be done and what would be nice to get done. I am always questioning now, is something important, does it focus on my vision, can it wait, does this need to be a habit.
Right now, I am constantly wanting to work on the business side of things but I know in my planning my focus should be my art. Yes, I still work on the business but my art receives the majority of my time. It is what is most important right now. So when I find I’ve run out of time during the day because a doctor’s appointment or some other necessary thing ran too long, then I know what to choose to work on – my art. I don’t give up because I’ve got too many things to do and very little time. (Something I used to do). Instead, because of my planning, I know the important thing to do next.
Let It Burn
Control the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t – let that stuff burn. Don’t spend time on things out of your control. Instead turn your attention and time to the things you can do within your vision, focus, and plan. It’s so easy to say but sometimes hard to do. I know. But ask yourself if it’s worth your time.
Make boundaries. I think this is tough for most people and something we should all be better about. Say no when you need to say no.
It was so tempting once the quarantine started, to keep checking the news, email, text messages, and social media. But once I tracked that I was spending too much time doing that, I cut it out and turned that time into focused art making time instead. I put my phone in another room and made a rule for our home that there would be no tv before lunch. So I gained 3-4 hours of straight art time and still had time the rest of the day to catch up (Quite literally the minutes spent on social media and tv were this many hours but spread out through the day for me). I found once I cut it out I really didn’t want to waste my time there anymore – I let it burn.
Make purposeful habits that lead you to your goal and help you focus.
During my cancer diagnosis I made 2 habits that still stick. In the mornings I take time to meditate and journal. I find I am always more grounded and at ease when I do it. For me I am a visual person, so I made a tracker and filled in the bubble for the habit I wanted to create. It reminded me to keep it up. If you find you need to focus find the habits that will help you. These 2 habits help focus me on my art and my vision everyday.
Don’t complain or whine. Inwardly or outwardly. Just don’t do it. This will only lead you down rather than lifting you up. And when your plans have seemed to go awry you need to keep a positive attitude and look for the ways to implement your plans.
Complaining, even if it is only in your head, will begin to make you feel like you can’t focus, you won’t ever be able to do what you plan, and you’ll be stuck where you are. Instead turn the complaint to a grateful statement and see where it takes you.
These are all things I’ve used to work out of uncontrollable circumstances. I’m sure there’s more and I’d love to hear from you about how you are able to rise out of circumstances and move on with your vision! Let me know by joining the Print Library below with your email and replying back to me. I love having new friends and hope we can be!