Monday, September 12, 2011

Shooting at Targets

You know, the thing about writing is that it always feels like you are behind on everything. You should've already gotten through that first draft. You should have already finished editing. You should've already read a million more books and blogs.

And that's not even counting all the REGULAR LIFE stuff you have to do. It can kind of feel like there are a million things you need to do, and you can't even figure out which one is most important to work on, right?

Sigh. And it gives you grief.

I was driving down the street, stressing about the aforementioned malady when something brilliant came to mind. My mom hangs frames on their bathroom wall with great quotes or pictures, and every so often she changes the quotes. Suddenly, as a gift from above, one of the quotes came to mind.

“Nothing can add more power to your life
than concentrating all of your energies
on a limited set of targets.”

~Nido Qubein

Well, duh. Now that you mention it, it makes all kinds of sense.

If you have a circle of 50 targets around you and you’ve got 50 arrows in your quiver, then you can shoot one arrow at each target. Sure, you’re probably going to get a bull’s eye every now and then. And you might hit the rings on twenty or so more. But there’ll be a lot you don’t even hit.

And here’s the kicker— the ones you don't hit could be the most important targets.

But if you shoot all 50 arrows at ONE TARGET, you’re going to get a few bull’s eyes. And a couple dozen or so in the other rings. And of course, you’ll miss the target quite a few times. But you’ll get bull’s eyes! And hit tons of other places that give points! Your target is going to be full of arrows!!

When you have that one target that you’ve been aiming at, and it’s filled with tons of arrows, IT FEELS REALLY GOOD.

And when you have a whole mess of targets with no arrows, it kinda makes you feel like you really suck at... Okay, we’ll say archery.

So I decided to make a gigantic bon fire and huck most of my targets into it, leaving only a the most important ones to aim at. (Of course, unless you're talking ONLY writing, you're not likely to whittle it down to just one target.)(And okay, I didn’t actually burn the others targets, because I really like most of those other targets! I’d like to shoot some arrows at them again sometime. So, I mostly just stood them on end in a neat little row with a label on the side so I could find each one at a moment’s notice.)

But holy cow, does it feel good to have less targets to aim at!

I’m talkin’ REALLY good.

So I say, chuck some of those targets you’ve been aiming at!

I think you’ll like it.

I mean REALLY like it.

P.S.  I was interviewed by ever fabulous Cristina at Once Upon a Time.... Go check it out! :)


Kelley said...

Great Analogy Peggy! I have this issue... too many targets. But I just like so many things!

I'll have to file some away I think...

J+S said...

Hmmm, I guess I have to decide which targets to burn now? So hard.


elizabethreinhardt said...

I love that it was in your mom's bathroom that you found this advice! It's definitely an awesome thing to think about! (Ooh, and loved your interview! I'm going to have to try pumpkin chocolate chip cookies sometime soon!)

J. A. Bennett said...

Good analogy! Slimming down always makes life easier. Great post!

Abby said...

Just saw your interview on Cristina's blog and loved it. Your book sounds awesome! Also love this analogy. Wonderful advice for a Monday - or any day at that :)

Jessie Humphries said...

Girl you do have a lot of targets? Which ones are putting aside I wonder. You can tell me on Wednesday. I gotta check this interview out!

Cynthia said...

That's why sometimes I like to reorder my priorities. It's good to keep shuffling things around. :-)

Leigh Ann said...

My question is - what if you've already burned SO MANY that there really aren't that much left to burn? And the only realistic target to burn would be "Get published," because the only other ones are "have good hygiene" and "feed your kids?"

Womp Womp. I'm Debbie Downer today.

Really, it's awesome advice. I don't fold the laundry anymore, and no one in my house has died. :)

i'm erin. said...

So did you shoot a target for today? I hope to see some new writing for our writing group! P.s. your blog is friggin' awesome.

Lani Wendt Young said...

Once again more excellent advice. Which i esp needed to hear rite now, aaaargh. I used to be a vaguely psychotic housekeeper but since becoming this demented fulltime blogger/writer - well, lets just say that everyone in my house is alive and there is lots of love everywhere. Hopefully those descriptors will make up for the mess. Choice of targets between cleaning my bedroom vs getting this ^%$#@ book to the printer? Nah, no struggle at all. I know that if i cut out the Greys Anatomy target too - then so much more stuff would get done, but I cant, noooo, not McDreamy!

Krista said...

I have given you an award on my blog. Be sure to stop by and claim it!

Carrie Butler said...

When I was younger, I taped a target to my dad's old, wooden shed. Not only did my arrow pierce the target, but it also drilled a hole into the shed. (Oops! Sorry, Dad!) Here's to hoping I can pull off a repeat performance, using my writing target. *grins* Great post!

Michael Offutt said...

Focus can make all the difference between success and failure.

E.R. King said...

Brilliant analogy. When I reach the point when I'm juggling too much, sometimes it takes me a while to step back and lighten my load. Thanks for the reminder to keep life simple!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Great analogy. I have this problem as well. Too many things. Too. Many. Things. It's nice to let go of a few once in a while.:)

S. L. Hennessy said...

First of all, GREAT blog title!! And also, I really liked your interview. And this post about aiming at targets -- I've recently realized I have one too many myself. I'm currently trying to narrow down :) Can't wait to hear more from you!

Shakespeare said...

Maybe that's how I need to simplify--make one or two targets my daily goal instead of 82 (my favorite arbitrary number).

Now I have to think over my goals for Tuesday:

Work on revising novel
Finish Count of Monte Cristo

Yup, that's it. Thanks!

Richard said...

Makes sense. It's what I try to do, though I do try to do too much sometimes.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Kelley-- That's what makes it so hard! If it were only as easy as saying, "Hmm. I think I'm going to burn that Watching Infomercials target so I have less to focus on. Sigh. Good luck!

Jenifer-- I'm not actually going to MAKE you. ;)

Elizabeth-- Since the shower is such a popular place to get inspiration, it stands to reason that the bathroom wall would be a great place for advice. :) And definitely try pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! Seriously. Take a bite, and you'll think, "My life is perfect."

J.A.-- It definitely makes life easier! Oh, wait. Were you talking about weight or targets? Either way. :) And thanks!

Abby-- I'm blushing! Thank you.

Jessie-- We probably ALL have too many targets! Sigh. Such is the nature of the [writer] beast.

Cynthia-- I think that shuffling targets around is definitely the key to not being so sad about not shooting at certain targets. Great advice!

Leigh Ann-- And THAT is the question. I say pat yourself on the back for keeping up with feeding the kids, having good hygiene, and keeping everyone alive. And then sometimes *sheds a tear* that "Get Published" target has to just get aimed at less frequently than you'd like. Good luck with it all! Working / small children / writing can be a very stressful combo. You're amazing!

i'm erin-- I shot at LOTS of targets today! Not single one of them was the "Finish a Chapter For My Writing Group" target. P.S. Thank you.

Lani-- Hahaha! You had me at vaguely psychotic housekeeper, and from there, the laughs just kept coming. I'm out of breath now. Congrats on the love, aliveness, McDreamy, and book to the printer. Sounds fab to me.

Krista-- Awww, thanks! I love that!

Carrie-- Cheers! I hope you hit the bulls eye with such force that the arrow stays forever lodged in your dad's shed. He'd love the reminder. :)

Michael-- SO TRUE.

E.R.-- Sometimes it takes me WAY too long to step back and simplify things, too. And you're welcome! :)

Chantele-- It IS nice. Sad, true, but still nice.

S.L.-- Thanks, thanks, and thanks! Good luck narrowing it down!

Shakespeare-- Ha! 82! Taht sounds like my to-do list sometimes. It's so hard to learn not to expect to be able to do something so impossible! Your three for the day sound fabulous.

Richard-- Yep. I think even when you are good at keeping a reasonable amount of targets, sometimes some slip in almost without your permission.

linda said...

Great tip! I find it so hard to narrow down my targets, though. I wish I could do everything! But yes, prioritizing is important. Thanks for the advice. :)

Carterista said...

I don't have many targets. They got left by the wayside years ago when one target became much more improtant than the rest. Since then I've gained a few back, but my kids are older now and I've discovered The Wonderful World of Delegation. Dumping the clean laundry out and calling the kids down to fill a basket of their own clothes and then not worrying about whether they got folded before the were stuffed into drawers is my most recent favorite. Ahhh! Time to READ!!!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Linda-- Yes! I want to do everything! I guess when we prioritize, though, it makes the stuff we choose to spend our time on all the sweeter.

Caterista-- Ahh, delegation! What a sweet, sweet thing that is. Right up there with letting things that don't REALLY matter go. Like folded laundry. :)