For me personally, 2014 was a year of ups and downs. I tended to charge full-steam into a project, get it done just barely in time, and then dive full-on into the next thing, leaving the first to languish until it becomes the Most Important Thing again. It has been an anxious, stressful pattern that left a trail of disappointed people and dropped balls.
Looking back, I see this pattern in almost every aspect of my life, including our move across town in April and May. I loaded, hauled, and unloaded carloads of stuff from one apartment to the other every day for weeks, and then cleaned and fixed things and moved more things, and we didn’t technically finish moving until the day we left for a road trip to Illinois: we picked up the pizza stone we’d forgotten in the oven on our way out of town. Upon returning from that road trip, instead of continuing the move by unpacking and settling in, I dove in to an urgent custom order that had too tight of a timeframe and too small of a budget (entirely my fault). When I came up for air from the custom order, there were other fires to put out, and on and on and on.
Honestly, this is a bigger pattern than just this year, but with all of the hats I’m wearing this year, it has become a much less sustainable practice. It’s one thing to swing between focusing on work and focusing on home, but right now I’m a wife, roommate, sister, teacher, high school guidance counselor, freelance designer, and a small business owner (designer, accountant, marketing director, copywriter, web designer, technical support, etc) and focusing on one “hat” to the exclusion of all others puts me hopelessly behind and disappoints a whole host of people.
I think often this conflict is labeled “work-life balance” and subjected to all sorts of familiar advice about leaving work at work, prioritizing people, blah blah blah. I think, from here in the trenches, it feels more like I flunked out of clown school in 2014. I would like to learn how to be a better juggler. Instead of holding one ball and petting it lovingly while all the others fall to the ground, my goal for 2015 is to learn how to find a way to keep all the balls in the air in a way that isn’t frenetic, but shows a calculated appreciation for each ball’s weight and priority.
My word for 2015 is momentum. I’d like to try to keep things in motion more fluidly, instead of dropping all the balls all the time.
Honestly, I’m not really sure how to make this happen. In the short term, I think it will be a matter of discipline. It will be choosing to take the actions necessary to follow through on something, even if I’m inclined to, for example, spend months avoiding writing an email that makes me uncomfortable. It will also be recognizing when I’m running myself so hard that I’m nearing burnout, because burnout stops all momentum.