I use to love having everything just right for working. Whether it was at the office, school work at a coffee shop or working from home, I was very meticulous on having everything just so before starting to dive into my deep work.
This routine worked brilliantly when I was in university because I was completely in charge of my time. I was accountable to almost nothing, other than my schoolwork, so creating the perfect studying, essay writing or exam preparation environment was not only easy, but something I very much looked forward to doing.
As I started off as a professional, life got a bit more complicated, but it was still fairly easy to schedule my day around my own needs and wants. I was able to work at the local coffee shop, anytime my house felt a bit distracting or my partner too noisy. I was able to set up my office at work with the lighting and layout which best suited me working for seven to nine hours a day. I was able to wake up early and do writing and research in the comfort of a silent, clean, organized home whenever I wanted and did so regularly.
During my twenties and early thirties, it was extremely easy to produce because that is all I was doing. I was carving out who I was as a writer, professional, and lifelong student. My time was completely my own and I had no one else to account for.
As my life has changed, priorities have shifted and been added, and my life is not so much a singular safari anymore.
I am accountable to more people.
I am accountable to more responsibilities.
I am accountable to more expectations, self and otherwise.
I have taken on more and more responsibility in my life, mostly by choice, but responsibility all the same.
I also have less control. You cannot control other people the way you can control yourself. I also have more people around, so this pristine house I use to love to utilize is not so common anymore. I am also relied upon more, so running away to a local coffee shop for three hours is not always the easiest thing to do anymore.
As your life grows and the people who rely on you multiply, your own time must become a greater priority for you, or you will lose it.
It can be an easy reason to let yourself go.
It can be the best reason to give up on your own dreams.
Blame your marriage, children, work, commute, for why you are not living the life you want to be living and most people will nod in understanding.
I will not believe you, but I will listen.
The key to continual success to adaptation. You must be willing to change as your circumstances change, otherwise, you will simply not have the ‘time’ to complete your own goals.
When I was younger, it was so easy to get everything I wanted done when and how I wanted, but now that this is not the case and it is actually very hard to continually work on myself, I had to adapt.
The biggest challenge for me, especially with writing was I had to take the time whenever I got it. I sometimes sit back and fantasize about the days I use to go to the university library with a fresh coffee, bottle of water, loads of snacks and just work, uninterrupted for six to eight hours.
I cannot do that anymore, for a variety of reasons, one of them being that my sheer ability to focus has shrivelled away as I have gotten older. The other, more practical reasons, are that my house would always be a mess, my priorities to others would have to be overlooked and my life would not run as seamlessly as I would like it to be.
Now, when I have thirty minutes or so, I take advantage of it.
Even fifteen minutes before the next thing I have to do can be valuable, so I utilize it now. Before, when my time was all my own, I use to throw away pockets of fifteen minutes like loose change, but now I scrounge them up and savour them. You can do a lot in fifteen minutes, so quit wasting those moments of potential greatness.
I will work in bed, even though I use to loathe the idea of working in bed, but now I see it as multitasking. By staying in bed, I am able to spend quality time with my partner, while still working. Simply being present is enough for my partner, so why not kill two birds with one stone?
I will write in the evening and afternoon, something which I use to never do because I was a morning person. I am an anytime person now. If I have the time, it is perfectly fine for me to get my work done in said time.
I will work in those fifteen-minute pockets of time and if something will take less than five minutes, I never write it down anymore, I simply get it done. Whether it is a thank note, a quick confirmation email, phone call to avoid a meeting, I get it done now. I have stopped adding things to my list of life which will take less than six hundred seconds because it is a better use of time, period.
I am no longer in a position of luxury where I can put all of the things I do not want to do on a post-it and avoid them until the eleventh hour. I need to cross things off the list as quickly as they come in, if possible.
By learning to adapt to my changing environment, I have allowed myself the ability to be consistent. I am able to work, continue my educational pursuits, and writing, on top of a whole boatload of other responsibilities now. Sure, sometimes my house is not as clean as I want it, or a writing project did not get the four straight hours of uninterrupted time at a coffee shop the way I would have liked, but everything got done. Everything is complete, and that is enough.
Learning to adapt is what will keep you alive. If you do not adapt, you will kill your own dreams first and become a shell of who you were. You will wistfully look back at who you use to be and use self-limiting beliefs to tell yourself that you cannot be that person anymore. You will say that you simply no longer have the time to work out, write, go to school, get a promotion or whatever your dream is and you will blame your lack of success on your family, obligations or responsibilities.
How cruel is that? If you have stopped challenging yourself, you only have yourself to blame, so quit blaming the kid, job or house and start looking in the mirror. You will find that all of your problems and solutions will be looking right back at you.