Navigating the New Year: Overcoming the Struggle of Feeling Behind
Learning to prioritize presence over productivity.
It’s a beautiful winter morning in the Las Vegas desert. The cloudless sky is the perfect shade of blue. The sun brings a false sense of warmth to this chilly - no, make that cold - morning. It might surprise you but Las Vegas isn’t always 110 degrees. Winters are cold and windy. It’s currently 36ºF.
My fingers fumble across the keyboard as I try to find something to say. Something deep, profound, and inspiring. But the exercise leaves me exhausted. My soul is the strangest combination of contentment, joy, and urgency. This year isn’t off to the start I’d imagined. I’m trying to “just go with it.” Let God do His thing, but for this recovering control freak, that’s easier said than done. It’s the second week of January and I already feel behind.
Let me back up.
Or rather, let me catch you up.
In October, I attended the Leading and Loving It (LALI) conference for women leaders, specifically women ministry leaders. My last-minute decision to attend proved pivotal. Honestly, I didn’t expect to take away more than a small nugget of inspiration like a catchy quote. Instead, God met me in a very real way. Call it release, permission, breakthrough, or whatever word works for you…I left the conference feeling that it was time to quit my day job and fully focus on writing.
I talked to my husband.
We prayed about it because we don’t ever make a big decision without both of us being fully onboard.
A week later I told my boss that December 21 would be my last day.
Feelings of peace and excitement filled me as I planned for my new adventure. I’m not usually one for change, but this one had been on my heart for a long time and I couldn’t wait to get started. I also didn’t want leaving my job to be a “thing” so I kept the news very confidential.
About ten days before I was to pack up, my husband and I talked again. I’d felt some trepidation and so did he. Together, we decided to push pause on my exit. While I knew this was the best decision for our family, it didn’t lessen the weight of disappointment. I spent the next couple of weeks shifting my mindset from a new adventure to the same job. In fact, as I prepared to leave my job I’d agreed to take on some side work. So instead of leaving my job, I was adding a second.
December 21 came and I felt strange sitting in the office I thought I’d be cleaning out.
The holiday break came and I felt focused as I laid out index cards, post-it notes, and my new 2024 planner. I was determined to make this new schedule work. If I could just plan out my writing content for the year, then I could write in the margins of my days and still make progress.
Well, we’re officially into January’s double digits and the post-it notes and index cards still decorate the table in my office. And the beautiful leather-bound, embossed planner my husband got me for Christmas…yes, it’s still empty.
Everyday, I consider all the things that goes into being a writer who longs to be an author - content creation, branding, pitching, writing, editing - and I’m paralyzed. Overwhelemd with the possibilities and unsure of where to start.
Everyday, I think about how I can still make this happen.
Everyday is another day gone and the planner is still empty.
I don’t just feel behind…I AM behind.
But what if I’m not behind?
What if I’m right where I’m supposed to be?
It’s true I haven’t done any of those things (yet). But then I look at all the things I have done:
- taken a spontaneous trip with my family and made new memories
- spent time with friends
- been carpool mom without being annoyed that it’s interrupting my writing time
- helped a friend edit their nonfiction manuscript and book proposal
-attended our daughter’s first out-of-state club volleyball tournament without feeling the need to bring my laptop
- been available to have long, talks with our son who’s entering a new life chapter
It’s easy to scroll through social media and see how productive others are - setting goals, going to the gym, sticking to their new diet, balancing their budget - and compare our own journey. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the way I want to begin 2024.
I don’t want comparison to steal the joy from where God has placed me. And I don’t want to miss any of the special moments because my eyes are set on a goal so far down the road.`
Am I behind?
Maybe you are too.
Or maybe we’re right where we’re meant to be.
Productivity is good. But for some of us, it can become an idol. We believe the lie that we are only worthy, valuable, or needed as long as we are actively contributing. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve lived in that space for most of my life. It’s an exhausting, and I’m not doing it anymore.
This year I’m making a change.
- I’m letting go of comparison.
- I’m trusting God to guide my steps.
- I’m embracing the truth that I am loved, worthy & valuable simply because God says so.
- I am prioritizing being present over being productive.
Will you join me?
One specific shift I’m making is from being excessively productive to joyfully present. There are so many things that distract us throughout the day. For me it’s Instagram. While I love connecting with my people, it can also be the place that leads to distraction and discontentment. It’s a balance and honestly, some days are better than others.
Can you relate?
Maybe your thing doesn’t involved The Gram or social media. Maybe it’s something completely different. I bet you’re already considering what it. As you think about the thing(s) that are keeping you from being fully present, you might want to ask yourself these questions.
Questions to Ponder:
1. What area(s) of my life do I feel compelled to constantly be productive?
2. Where do I need to be more present?
I’d love to hear from you. If this post spoke to you, I’d love to hear about it.
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A Little Something Extra…
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MARK YOUR CALENDARS - NEW BOOK RELEASE!
I’m so excited to announce the release of No Hush, Baby Girl by my girl Rachael Macaluso. This is Rachael’s second children’s book and let me just say, it is a MUST for your home, school, church, and local library! Her take on the traditional lullaby flips the script on how we work through our emotions as a determined mom shows her daughter to be proud of her voice and to recognize the power of her cry. I could go on and on about her newest book but I’ll you hear directly from her! Join us on Instagram, FRIDAY, JAN 12 @ 9:30a PST for a live conversation.
I know. I know. We just talked about limiting social media. But this will be worth it. And if you miss it OR you’re not on Insta, no worries. I’ll share the content here too.
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