My oldest son is in the military. That has been his dream for as long as I can remember. We have discussed military and weapons and tactics for years. One time, when he was 9 years old, he came to me upset that the children’s section of the library had no battle strategy books. That’s when his father gave him Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” He still devours books on military tactics, biographies of famous generals and the fine art of war. (Apparently, there IS such a thing.) So it’s not unusual that a battle strategy analogy comes to mind as I plan and make my goals for 2009.
A long time ago I read about how a general has one main objective in any battle campaign. That is the one thing that must be accomplished. All plans, goals, missions and effort goes into accomplishing that one objective, be it to secure a hill or rescue fallen soldiers or hold territory. There might be other objectives, such as capture enemy equipment intact or retrieve more than just wounded men, but the general never loses sight of that one main objective. Of course battle campaigns are ever-changing, so a general is constantly adapting and re-evaluating. Not unlike a writer with ever-changing life responsibilities striving to be published in an ever-changing market. But that primary objective helps the general, or the writer, gauge whether true progress is happening in the midst of that change and chaos.
What is your one main objective? Do you know? Years ago, I made a conscious decision to make my young family a primary objective and writing a secondary one. I made goals related to writing, but I also made sure they never took valuable time from my family. I taught the kids to not need me, to be self-sufficient when that was appropriate, but I never neglected them. I fed and clothed them, gave them a pleasant, somewhat clean, place to live and I spent lots of time talking and playing, as well as teaching them. They knew they were a priority to me. I sometimes insisted on me-time, but even while doing that, I made sure the experience helped to teach them valuable life lessons and prepared them for life. By going after a secondary objective (the writing), I often accomplished progress in my primary objective. But I never lost sight of that primary objective . . . to lead my children through an emotionally safe, spiritually rich childhood into a responsible, productive and fulfilling adulthood.
Times have changed, though, and I need to re-evaluate that “standard operating procedure”. Two of my three children are grown and on their own (sort of – one of them rents a room from us). The other one is almost ready to leave (at least according to his chronological age . . . his father and I wonder about his maturity level at times LOL). They no longer need to be my primary objective (although I DO need to be available and aware of their life events to help guide them when they want or need it . . . or at least pray for them, when they don’t want my input. 🙂 )
And that is what I am doing this month, besides taking a break and enjoying my Army son’s visit over Christmas. I’m listing all the things I want to do and evaluating where they fit in relation to my primary and secondary goals. And I’m doing a bit of tweaking to those goals. I’m sure there won’t be any big changes. My family will always be an important part of who I am. I’ll still regularly choose to arrange my writing schedule to accommodate my husband and children. The difference is really just a slight re-focusing of the goals, with writing (or more specifically, getting published) being at the forefront.
What about you? What is the one thing that is most important? The second thing? Do your everyday choices reflect that? Or are you doing things that actually keep you from making progress? Spend some time over the next few weeks evaluating your life. Make sure all your choices are leading toward and never away from that primary, most important objective.