“Bringing my two children up while writing was just a part of life. I'd much rather have had their interruptions than been stuck in a sterile office. This way, I had welcome distractions. I had to load the washing machine, I had to go out and buy lemons.”
Sometimes you just have to get stuff out of the way. You have a dream. It’s very clear. You’ve written it down and you review it constantly. You do the work you need to do and you’re diligent about it. You’re working, studying, and preparing. You’re doing everything right.
Then, in the midst of your most productive time, the phone rings and you have to take care of something that was unexpected. Or you have to go to work. Or you have to get the car fixed. Or you have to pick up the kids. Or you have to follow up on that commitment you made three weeks ago.
The truth is you choose to do these things. Your choice may be a good one, because the consequences for not doing so may take more time from your Purpose, so you do what is asked of you. But the truth is that you’d rather not do it. You might even feel a little resentful towards your job, your family, your friends, or anything else that gets in the way.
This is part of the process. The distractions are more than distractions – they are tests. They are testing two things – your resolve and your character.
First they are testing your resolve. How badly do you want what you want? How badly? What are you willing to do? What are you willing to give up?
The truth is this: very few people have enough time. More accurately, every one of us has the same amount of time – 24 hours. For some that’s enough. How are you going to use yours? How much of your time will you devote to your Purpose? Yes, we’re all busy, but how much time will you give?
To make things more complicated, to be truly in your Purpose, you cannot devote all your time to your loved ones; nor can you neglect them. When Steven Pressfield was divorced and alone, in 1973, he rented a place to finish his first novel, and he never left it. By his own account, he missed Watergate entirely. The only time he did leave was for a couple of months to pick apples. Then he returned to his work and didn’t leave his house until he finished his first book. Most of us don’t have the luxury to lock ourselves away and just work. I use the word “luxury” cautiously. He was broke, divorced, and almost homeless at the time. But now he had the time to write.
Only you will know the right amount of time to give to your Purpose and the rest of your life. Each of us must have a guideline, but there’s no perfect formula or rule to help you. This ambiguity also applies to work, friendships, and self-care. You probably won’t be able to be in your purpose for 18 – 20 hours a day. So you either have to have a consistent schedule or you have to do what you can when you can. I recommend both.
Remember, too, that distractions are testing your character. Can you be joyful? Can you be loving? Can you be patient? Can you be attentive to the moment? If you can’t, you may find that you will struggle with the same issues while in your Purpose. The Purpose of Purpose is love. The Purpose of love is to make us the best we can be while accepting who we are. The Purpose of love is also other-directed. When we get irritable because we can’t be in our Purpose, we may be missing the point. We can be in our Purpose all the time, no matter what we’re doing. We just have to act lovingly.
The only guideline I can offer is this: be in your Purpose as much as possible and as often as possible. Whatever else comes along in life, accept it joyfully, do it fully, and get it done as quickly and as well as possible. Then get back to your other Purpose. Be with your work and be with those you love. Because Purpose and love are the same thing.