by Patty Smith Hall
I have a confession to make. I am a yes-a-holic. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to spit out that mean old word, no. I don’t know why. I see something that seems like a great idea, and the next thing I know, I’m signed up for it (most times, I’m even in charge!)
But that’s got to change, and what convinced me was one of those silly test on Facebook. A few weeks ago, I signed into to do one that composed a video of my life over the past year. I thought it would be fun as we’ve had an interesting twelve months with our oldest daughter getting married and the upcoming birth of our first grandchild. While watching it was nice, I was surprised that most of the frames featured one project after another rather than a healthy mixture of personal life and work.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m tremendously blessed to be doing a ministry I love and so very thankful that this last year has been productive. I signed three contracts, wrote six-novellas, signed with a new agent and began writing devotions for Journey magazine.
Each of these opportunities have been a gift and I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing people who have taught me so much about the craft of writing. But with the first grandchild due this month, I needed to make some changes. I began praying over what those changes should be and a word that would help me focus on achieving my goal. Finally, as the old year was winding down, the word came to me.
How does that work with a busy writing career and an active family life? How does the girl who can’t say no find balance in her life? Here are a few ways I came up with:
1) Say yes to the best.
A few years ago, I talked to a pastor friend of ours about my problem with saying no, and he gave me this piece of advice. Only say yes to God’s best. He explained that there are a lot of good things out in the world—making waterproof mats for the homeless, working at the food bank, just tons of things. What you have to do if figure out what’s best for you? That’s not easy to figure out but if you put a little thought into it, you’ll come up with a short list of things that satisfy your soul. This is your ‘best’ list that should get the majority of your attention. And remember—what may be good to you is someone else’s ‘best.’
2) Make a game plan.
I’ve become a planner over the years, probably from being married to an engineer. For me, making a game plan of the year, month, week and day prepares me—I know what to expect and each day as a familiar rhythm to it. As I tick off each item, I have a sense of accomplishment of a job well done. But how does one put balance into their plans? By following a schedule. Give yourself time limits. For example, I know that from nine to two Tuesday through Saturday, I spend fifteen minutes on emails and marketing then jump into my writing for the day. I shoot for at least a thousand words a day but I always write until two o’clock so if I go over, that’s great. At two, I check emails again then do something around my house or go work out or run errands. When my husband is home in the evenings and on Sunday, I don’t write unless I’m on a very tight deadline.
3) Forgive yourself
You’re heard that old saying—Man plans and God laughs. Yeah, stuff happens and schedules get thrown out the window. At moments like that, you have to cut yourself some slack. Life happens, and sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can’t get things done. Don’t beat yourself up over it. I’ve found, at least with me, that I’m harder on myself than anyone else would ever think to be. So be kind to yourself. As Scarlett O’Hara said, ‘Tomorrow is another day!’
Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.