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Finding the Elusive Balance

One of the things I hear a lot of writers talk about is the balance between family life and career. In the countless interviews I’ve given through the years, the question of how I juggle the needs of my family with the demands of my writing career often comes up. Balance seems elusive. Parents can carry around a lot of guilt—especially if the kids claim that your “job” is more important than they are.

I’m still carving out my right balance. Recently, I was asked to think about what my perfect day would look like. That sure got the gears turning. Here’s what I would like to see Monday through Friday:

5:45 a.m.—Prayer

6:00—Workout

6:30—Get ready for the day

7:00—Drive kids to school

7:30—Breakfast

7:45—Read and respond to emails

8:00—Write for an hour

9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.—Real-estate appointments

2:15—Pick up the girls from the bus stop

2:30 to 5:00—Household chores

5:00—Make lunches for tomorrow

5:30—Make supper

6:30 to 9:00—Family time

9:30—Reading time

10:00—Bedtime

As of right now, my days rarely look like this. Writing this out and posting it in my office, however, shows what I’m striving for. Just like I have health and fitness goals and post workouts and recipes online to keep me focused on those goals, having this list staring me in the face each morning motivates me to find that balance. There might be days that everything doesn’t fall into place. The unexpected can happen at any time. But having a plan and doing your best to stick to it certainly gets you farther than leaving it all up to chance.

Do you struggle with finding the right balance between your family life and writing career? What would your perfect day look like? Would writing out your perfect day and posting it in your writing space be helpful? What tips can you share for finding that balance?

 

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Put in the Big Rocks First

I seem to have misplaced something. Actually two somethings. Can anyone tell me where 2014 went? To make matters worse, January 2015 disappeared, too.

There were so many things I wanted to accomplish last year. Things I didn’t get to because I was distracted with too many time-wasters. While I wish I could recapture that time, I can’t. And even though I’ve lost the first month of the new year, I can change the way I approach the rest of 2015.

Have you set goals for this year?

  • If you’re serious about writing, what will you do this year to develop your writing skills?
  • Are you ready to complete that manuscript?
  • To whom will you send queries and proposals?
  • If you’re a published author, what will you do to give back to the writing community—especially to the next generation of new writers?
  • What about balance? Are you making time for the Lord (most important of all!), for family, for friends?

My lost year reminds me of a classic story:

A philosophy professor picked up a large, empty jar and filled it with rocks. He asked his students whether the jar was full. “Yes,” they answered.

He lifted a bag of pebbles from his desk drawer and poured them into the jar. When he shook the jar lightly, the pebbles settled into the open areas between the rocks. Again, he asked his students whether the jar was full. Again, they answered, “Yes.”

The professor reached into the drawer again and brought out a container of sand. He poured it into the jar. The sand filled all the remaining spaces. He asked the students one last time whether the jar was full. Of course, they all answered, “Yes.” But this time, they sounded less sure.

Finally, the professor took a bottle of water from the desk drawer. He poured it into the jar, filling even the tiniest spaces between the sand.

What’s the point?

The jar represents your life. The rocks are the truly important things: your relationship with the Lord, family, friends, and health. The pebbles are the other things that matter, such as your job or your home. The sand is everything else. If you put the sand in the jar first, there’s no room for all the rocks and pebbles. The same goes for our lives. If we spend all our time and energy on the small stuff, we’ll never have room for the things that are truly important.

It’s not too late. A new year still opens before us. Be sure to put in the big rocks first!

How are you ensuring that the important things are added to your life first?

 

Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts Ministries founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of the Faith Basics for Kids series. The first two books in the series are Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and CalledIn addition, Ava teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s Word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.