What Are You Willing to Give Up?

 Tomatoes in My Garden  -  Photo by Susan L. Davenport

Tomatoes in My Garden  -  Photo by Susan L. Davenport

What are you willing to give up to achieve your dreams? Is it too much?

Our society is goal oriented. Everyone I know has goals they are trying to achieve, and I’m no different. We dream about the person we want to become or the job or home we want to have, then we focus our energy and our efforts to achieve those goals. If we want to achieve large goals, we must be willing to give up something to make it happen.

I want to learn how to write, not a mediocre book, but a book that is so enjoyable, the reader doesn’t want to put it down. When I first started writing, I thought that would be easy. The stories I had in my head were so interesting to me; it never occurred to me they might not be interesting to everyone else as well. Then I started reading how-to writing books and sharing my stories with others, and I learned that writing well isn’t easy at all.

Writing well requires many skills. Creating good characters who intrigue the reader and make them care. Moving those characters through an interesting plot which forces them to deal with problems and grow as a result. Creating a setting so real and enticing the reader feels as if they are part of it. Cutting out the unnecessary words, even if we love them so that the story doesn’t put readers to sleep, but instead compels them to keep reading.  These are just a few of the skills necessary to create a good story and get it published, and it can take years of concentrated effort to get it right.

I also want to lose weight and get fit so that I’m healthier and hopefully will have a better, more independent future as I age. Many people, especially slim doctors, have told me this is easy to do. All I need to do is burn more calories than I eat – blah, blah, blah. But that’s not true, at least not for me. Different types of foods cause different results in my body. Eating too few calories causes me to gain weight almost as badly as eating too many. Not drinking enough water and getting dehydrated also causes poor results. It is a balancing act which requires a great deal of effort.

I created a vegetable and herb garden this year. My logic was that we would have fresh, organic vegetables and herbs readily available without having to drive to the store. I like being outside, and Toby likes to help me, so I foresaw several benefits to the garden, but I failed to consider the time it would take to maintain it.

Organized files make me happy. One of my dreams is to have all my genealogy research, my writing, and my finances organized and easy to manage. I am always searching for ways to become more organized and this year is no different.

These goals are valid goals which will improve my life, and I will feel good about myself if I am successful, but life doesn’t stop just because we’ve set goals for ourselves. Our regular responsibilities are still there, waiting for us to do them. We still need to cook, clean, do laundry, and help our loved ones.

Because of my goals and my regular responsibilities, I found myself busy from the time I got up in the morning to the time I went to bed. I was always working on one goal or another and sometimes on multiple goals at once. I was exhausted and still not getting everything done.

“What do you want? What are you willing to give up to get it? Writing requires that you make sacrifices. Be prepared to work hard to be a writer.”

Sandra Brown

Recently, I’ve seen several posts talking about how much I will have to give up to become a writer. There is a lot of truth to these posts, but not just about becoming a writer. Any large goal you set for yourself requires sacrifices. You must have the time to do the work required to achieve the goal. Time and energy are finite resources. If we spend those resources working on our goals something else will go undone.

I made the mistake of taking those resources out of the time and energy I normally use to take care of myself. I became so focused on achieving my goals that I never took the time to relax. I skipped meals and told myself it was okay to do that because I was eating fewer calories. I stayed up late after my husband and Toby went to bed so I could have quiet time alone to work. As a result, I ended up too tired and burned out to do anything.

The tired, overworked me, was grumpy with my husband and my dog, even when they didn’t deserve it. Daily tasks which had been simple to handle in the past were causing me great frustration and difficulty. Even the challenges I was facing in learning to write, or learning how to eat healthily had become difficult to manage. I finally just shut down and stopped doing everything. Instead, I sat in my recliner, reading an escape novel while eating almonds and dried blueberries (my favorite snack). It took four novels, plus a week of rest, relaxation, and taking care of myself before my brain was functioning normally again.

Sure, goals are good for us. They help us grow as individuals and achieve our dreams. Yes, if we want something we must be willing to give something up for it, but we need to be careful and not give up too much. To be a good writer, caregiver, athlete, gardener, whatever we want to be, we must be at our best. To be at our best, we need enough sleep, healthy food, exercise, relaxation, time with friends and family, and time with God or whatever feeds your soul.

Dream big. Set yourself goals to help you achieve those dreams and work hard to make them happen, but be careful. Don’t give up too much.

 Collard Greens  = Photo by Susan L. Davenport

Collard Greens  = Photo by Susan L. Davenport