Going to Matter
In Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,
author Richard Carlson, Ph.D. describes ways to experience more joy in one’s life. Although all of his suggestions have value, the advice given in Suggestion #16 is my favorite. It reads "Ask Yourself This Question, ‘Will This Matter a Year from Now?’" Dr. Carlson says that people get so worked up over many things that simply won’t make any difference a year from now. He encourages his readers to stop worrying about things that won’t matter in the long run. Worry less about unimportant things and enjoy life more.
Dr. Carlson’s principle can also be applied to our writing lives. When I am tempted to surf – either channels with the remote or on the internet – I ask myself "Will this matter a year from now?" Will spending my time on this activity improve my life? Will doing this further my career as a writer? Six months from now, will I be glad I watched that "Trading Spaces" rerun or took that nap? The answer is always a resounding no. Those things simply don’t matter.
On the other hand, when I spend that same time sending out query letters or working on my latest project, I know that what I am doing could make a big difference in my future. When I ask myself "Will this matter a year from now?" I already know the answer. A year from now, I will have more clips in my portfolio and certainly more cash in my pocket.
Most importantly, I will be a better writer than I am today.
The simple fact is that there are only 24 hours in each day, and we have many tasks competing for that precious time. Things that will matter years from now, things that are important today, and things that just don’t matter at all. It’s important to find a balance and make the most of the time we have.
Time is our most valuable resource. When it’s gone, it’s gone, and we can never get it back. Spend your time doing things that will matter, things that you’ll look back on in a year’s time and feel proud of.
Make careful choices regarding your time. Make a promise to yourself and put it in writing. Some suggestions include:
- Limiting the time spent doing unnecessary things that won’t help your writing career.
- Finding at least 30 minutes per day to write.
- Submitting your work as often as possible.
- Sending rejected pieces to another market within one week.
- Setting weekly writing goals and making every effort to reach them.
- Writing down 10 yearly goals and putting them where you’ll see them often.
- Asking yourself "Will this matter a year from now?" If the answer is no, then find something to do that will.
Don’t let the next 365 days become ones that are filled with lost opportunities. Spend them doing things that will matter in a year. Spend them writing
This essay was previously published in Fabulist Flash