Updated: Apr 18
How many times have each of us told ourselves that, "I'll get focused and stop getting distracted?" If I'd actually followed up with some focused productivity on just 10% of the Monday's that I told myself to start fresh or make one task a priority on, I would have so much more accomplished by now. Yet, here I am, writing my first blog post for the year.... in April. Excuses are certainly available. Kids, work, and one sudden pressing need after another. The biggest distraction for me is, "The next great idea."
So, I am really pleased to finally have the first adventure of Henry the Rabbit King committed to print and available for purchase. I even managed to meet my self imposed deadline for publication of March 31st. Harder than writing a story enjoyable for children and their parents has been finishing the project itself. It wasn't until I forced myself to focus on just one, "what's next" benchmark for just this one project that I began making real progress. It's embarrassing to admit that I wrote Henry's first draft in 2012. If you had asked me at any point since then what my plan for it was, I would have answered the same,"To publish it," but I didn't start working with an illustrator until 2019. So why did it take me 7 years to take the next step?
It's easy to live in a place of good intentions. Now at forty years old it has finally sunk in that they don't amount to diddly. Being a creative person it is easy for me to stay there, in a sea of half finished projects. My wife is more practical. She doesn't waste time day dreaming a whole lot. I admire anyone who can sift through all of the possibilities and opportunities flung their way on a daily basis and still get their goals for the day met. I didn't even know to set goals until 2019. That sounds crazy but its true. Of course I knew what a plan was, but making plans (as opposed to just wanting to do something) was not something I understood the need for or difference between.
I would not have finally finished this book without learning to be intentional. It is something that I am certainly still learning to do well, but its essential for life even when minimally grasped. I know for myself, and I suspect most of us, it is easy to wait for things to happen. We can wander our way through life hoping for happiness or for a certain achievement, but whatever our goal or dream is it will not materialize until we pursue it. That has really been my lesson for the last several years and only sunk in this last one. I think I am finally in the right place to apply that lesson to following up on this first book with another. Of course that means, I'll have to wait to start that novel, or design that board game or, etc. etc. etc. but without filtering out things that don't support my goals I know I will lose sight of them.
I hope that despite the uncertainty and chaos that the COVID-19 virus is unleashing across the world that the interruption to our routines serves as a reminder for all of us to pause and refocus. We can all benefit from asking ourselves, "What is important right now?" And equally important, "What is distracting me from what is important?" For me I've finally realized that this book isn't nearly as important as I thought it was. As much as I am thrilled to complete it and as much as I am excited to take the story further, it actually has to rank a bit lower on my list of priorities when I take the time to write them down. In the process of learning how to prioritize and plan for completing Henry's story I was forced to acknowledge how much infinitely more important the five children I first wrote it for are. It sounds obvious, but we get it backwards every day. Just as an example, we'd all agree that family matters more than work, but how often do we actually prioritize work or something else over our own families? I'm asking as one included among the guilty.
Lets all make the rest of this year one in which we stop running down rabbit trails and identify what matters most in our lives. When we build the details of our lives around what is actually most important to us instead of trying to take care of the details so we can do what is important, everything has a way of falling into place.