I hear it all the time. “How do you do it?”
It’s not an unwarranted question. Sometimes, I even ask it of myself. How do I do it?
How do I put in forty hours Monday through Friday, while still squeezing in six hours of classes, and then turn around and work another eight hours on Saturday, and then spend Sunday mornings at church, and then spend Sunday afternoons grocery shopping and doing chores? How do I manage to do all of that, and still manage to be a homeowner and a wife, and hopefully a potential mother, and put in enough writing to churn out roughly one book per year?
People also ask this question of my husband and myself as a married unit. How do we work fifty plus hours a week each, and still find time for romance and companionship? How do we manage to put money in savings almost every month on such a low combined income? How did we manage to go from limping along from paycheck to paycheck to paying off component student loans and purchasing a house in less than three years?
The answer to both questions is really one and the same.
This answer is simple, although it might not be what you want to hear. It is not a simple solution, one tiny step needed to right the balance in an already stress-filled life.
Here it is:
I do what I do because I have to.
We do what we do because we have to.
Skip lunch breaks.
Stay home and cook, even when it would be easier just to go out.
Budget everything. Money, time, calories. Everything.
Brainstorm while driving.
Stay up half the night working on homework and reading assignments, and then stay up even later to put in work on my books.
Don’t watch near as much Netflix as my lazy butt would like.
Know when it’s time to take a night “off” to spend time with my husband, and I don’t mind working twice as hard the next day to make that happen.
I don’t have a ton of free time–in fact, I’m not even sure I understand what free time is anymore–but you know what? I am completely, totally satisfied. I might be sleep deprived and busy to the point of nervous breakdown on some days, but for the first time in my life, I am passionate about what I do.
My office job? Love it.
My fast-food job? It’s only temporary, I don’t hate it, and it allows me to spend time with friends.
School? LOVE IT.
Writing? LOVE IT.
Achieving dreams, no matter what they are, will always require work. It will always require discipline. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll pursue them later, when it will be easier, when it will be more manageable. Such a time will never come. You don’t have to do everything all at once, but you have to start somewhere.
Make a list of everything you need to accomplish in order to fulfill your dreams and start doing them as you can, baby steps, one by one. It will be frustrating and draining, and some days you will just want to give up because you feel like you’re standing still, but you’re not. You’re still light years ahead of the people who are not even trying.
Stop waiting for your fully-formed dream to drop painlessly into your lap. It’s not going to happen. It never happens like that. If you want something to happen, start that process now. You’ll be busy, and you’ll be tired, but you will be doing something you love.
If you need further inspiration, check out Zen Pencils’ wonderful illustration of a speech given by James Rhodes, “Is That Not Worth Exploring?” It makes me tear up every time I read it, because it is so true. Your dreams are worth exploring, no matter the sacrifice. No matter what you have to do. So get out there, and do it!