In the past I've balanced the challenge of potentially lucrative projects against the here-and-now pay-off of smaller short-term, sure-thing projects. I've lost opportunities to score runs on possible grand-slam opportunities because I've needed the instant cash of small assignments or projects.
So my life is a constant battle: Big-time/long-term projects (which require steady nurturing) versus earn-money-now assignments. I've not conquered this matrix. But here are a few of the tools and filters, I'm trying to use as I navigate my way through the maze of financial and professional achievement.
1. What is the time horizon? I'm working on a collection of short-stories. Any payoff (publication and fees) is a long way off. I've been working on the stories for over a year and I'm giving myself at least another year to finish. Really, (between you and me), it's a fictional goal in all senses of the word, but recognizing it as a long-term project helps me to accept the delayed gratification.
2. Can my long-term goal be accomplished in bite-sized pieces?I learned a valuable lesson about time when I was working on my financial memoir book: The Frugal Duchess of South Beach (May 2008/DPL Press). I completed the book while still handling my other professional responsibilities.
Sometimes I wrote all day, but other times I worked on the book in one-hour, two-hour and four-chunks of time. By slow and steady effort, I was able to complete the manuscript without sacrificing too much of my other income. There is, I discovered, a lot of value in bite-sized pieces of time and effort.
I've applied those same lessons to my short-story project: Small goals and steady progress.
3. What am I willing to give up? My housework and my weight suffered while I juggled my short and long-term goals. My apartment looked messy; I gained weight and I lost a few free-lance projects while I cranked out copy. But I kept my eye on the greater good. And now I'm working hard and working out to make up for lost opportunities and gained pounds.
I'm getting back to a decent weight; my house looks better and I've been trying to make nice with all of the editors I ignored while chasing my dream.
Bottom line: There is no bottom line. I'm just making up the rules as I go along. But I understand that there will always be a struggle between delayed gratification and short-term demands. Meanwhile, I'm looking for ideas and solutions from others.
Please email me at Sharonhr@bellsouth.net or leave a comment if you have tips about financial and career management. I want to hear from you.
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