Monday, 17 February 2014

Balancing Conflicting Goals

Like everybody, I've got a bunch of different priorities pulling me in multiple directions - social life, dating, health & fitness, work, and hobbies, to be precise. It's been like this for the past several years, as I've gotten serious about, variously, dating, writing, running and slimming down.

But every once in a while it gets frustrating to try and balance all of these things, because some of them are actually in opposition to one another. For instance, I know that to meet more girls (and, hopefully, down the line, go on dates with them) I need to get out of the house and go where they are. At the same time, if I want to get my stories published, I need to actually block out more time to write them, but that means less time for going out. And so on.

I've heard it said that you can either be successful professionally or personally, but you can't have both areas of your life be perfect. I don't know if that's true or not, because there are plenty of anecdotal examples of both (and it depends on your definition of success, of course), but I try and conduct my life like it isn't. Although given a choice, I think becoming a successful writer just edges out personal satisfaction, if not by much.

One thing that helps is reminding myself that success in one area can actually help in other areas. Getting fitter, for example, would help in becoming a more attractive guy, for instance, while succeeding in getting published is also something that could help attract women (the kind who'd find that attractive, at any rate, but that's who I'm after). I suppose that's all a pretty long-winded way of saying that I've kind of de-emphasized dating, in favor of the other stuff.

One of the self-help books that I go back to from time to time is Goals!, by Brian Tracy, which looks into goal-setting, and how to do it successfully. He advocates regularly writing out a list of your goals in life, but also suggests looking at each and deciding which one, if you accomplished it, would have the greatest positive impact on your life. This is your major definite purpose.

To apply it to my own life, while meeting someone would be great, I don't think it would have as much of an impact on my life as selling a novel or a screenplay. Or to put it another way, publishing a novel would make it easier to meet a like-minded woman, but getting married and having kids would probably make it harder to set aside the time to write the novel or screen play.

(And yes, I'm aware of Elmore Leonard's advice to wake up at 5am and write for two hours at the start of every day. I tried it for a couple of months, and was miserable for every minute of it, not to mention not particularly productive. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman, I want to be a writer so I don't have to get up in the morning.)

That understanding doesn't make my disappointment at continually failing to meet someone less keen, of course. And if I'm honest, sometimes it feels more like a rationalization of why I'm not as proactive as I'd like to be on the dating front. But it helps a little bit.

Although, now that Brian Tracy's gone and written his book about setting goals, I wish he (or somebody else - Tim Ferriss? Chris Hardwick?) would write one about balancing your various goals. That's one I'd devour in one sitting.