In Others’ Words: Give and Take

“One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” ~Sidney Howard, American playwright

This is spring break week for my youngest daughter.

And yes, we are having some vacation fun. Sort of.

I am the “sort of ” part of the equation.

I have several major deadlines looming. I’ve learned that deadlines don’t budge just because spring break shows up on the calendar — or summer vacation or Thanksgiving or Christmas or your birthday, for that matter.

In a perfect world, I would have planned my deadlines around spring break (and every other holiday). But that’s not real life.

Which brings me back to our “sort of” vacation fun — and to this quote. I know what I want: I want to meet my deadlines and I want to turn in my best work. And, yes, I also want to see my family some on spring break.

Right now, deadlines trump family.

I’m thankful my husband and kids understand that, while they are my ultimate #1 priority, they are not the #1 priority this week. They’re giving me huge amounts of grace this week — and lots of focused writing and rewriting time.

In Your Words: What have you had to give up to accomplish your goals? Any words from the wise on balancing competing priorities?


photo by andrewatla/
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  1. March 26, 2012, 5:46 am   /  Reply

    I hear you. One of my sons and his two boys were with me for several days just before a deadline. I kept apologizing to them for having to watch them out of one eye while I worked. I suspect both my writing and the quality of my time with them suffered. I’ll be anxious to read the advice others give you.

    I hope you have a GREAT week, beautiful friend.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:26 am   /  Reply

      I completely understand the “having to watch them out of one eye while I worked” phrase, Patricia. I’m picking and choosing what I do with family versus my “sorry, I have to write” time very carefully. My family knows the writing time is the focus.

  2. March 26, 2012, 6:02 am   /  Reply

    I love the kind of balance this graphic shows, which is evidenced in your family life and will radiate out through your writing. Praying for you not only to mine pay dirt and find gold nuggets, but emerge with them highly polished due to the thorough planning/praying you’ve done ahead. Blessings!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:26 am   /  Reply

      I’d hoped to polishing more and mining less this week … but a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do.

  3. Barbara Wallace
    March 26, 2012, 7:13 am   /  Reply

    I totally understand. And I also understand what you’re not mentioning – which is the guilt that comes with having to give up things for our goals. For mothers, it’s often extraordinarily difficult to put your career goals before family. Therefore, doing so requires a lot of pats on the back and reassurances that you’re not a bad mom.

    PS: I gave up touring colleges out of state with my son and husband last winter to make a deadline. Broke my heart but had to be done.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:27 am   /  Reply

      I will take that pat on the back, Barbara.
      Yeah, feeling a little guilty. But my husband I talked it all out before this week … and we/he explained it to the kiddos.

  4. March 26, 2012, 7:14 am   /  Reply

    I know the feeling, completely. When I was completing my Master’s degree, a lot of friends didn’t understand why I couldn’t hang out as much. Unfortunately, some of those friendships were damaged. I’m sure I could have done more to spend just a little time with them, but I’m not sure these particular friends would have been happy even with that. You’re blessed that your family is so supportive, for sure. (For the record, I have a very supportive husband and family, and lots of other friends too. I just think times like this really show us who our biggest support is, for sure!) Good luck as your deadlines approach! You can do it!!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:29 am   /  Reply

      Thanks for cheering me on, Lindsay. I’ve never taken the leap into a Master’s, although I’ve considered it.
      And, yeah, some people understand the Rock of Gibraltar looming deadline … and some don’t. I can’t take the time to explain it (again) to those who don’t.

  5. March 26, 2012, 7:43 am   /  Reply

    Afraid I have no “words from the wise” other than understanding from your family is an awesome thing. 🙂 Praying for you with your big deadlines, friend!!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:30 am   /  Reply

      And I thank you, thank you, thank you for the prayers, M-Tagg.

  6. March 26, 2012, 7:51 am   /  Reply

    Time with family, for sure. And watching Castle when it airs. (I usually catch it when I’m finishing up a knitting project) Playing in the mud with my potter’s wheel…you’re right, it’s all a matter of priorities.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:31 am   /  Reply

      Castle … one of these days I’m gonna watch Castle.

  7. March 26, 2012, 7:54 am   /  Reply

    Oh man, not sure my words are wise, but it does pay off to know what you value and what’s most important. I don’t go out to lunch as much as I’d like (or out at all as much as I’d like). 😀

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:32 am   /  Reply

      Knowing what I value does make a difference. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that. It’s a challenge because I do value relationships — and I also value my writing. Competing values, indeed.

  8. March 26, 2012, 8:54 am   /  Reply

    I’ve given up luxury type items and weekend get-aways with the girls to save for conferences and items that pertain to writing, like lap tops! Praying you get everything done in time and some time to relax in between!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:33 am   /  Reply

      Thanks for the prayers, Jess.
      And yes, sometimes we say no to one thing (or many things) to say yes to others — and conferences are so, so worth the yes!

  9. March 26, 2012, 9:12 am   /  Reply

    This is a struggle for me right now. My children are 7, 5, 2 & 2 – I have put writing on the back burner since becoming a mom (well, to be honest, I’ve dabbled a little) – but now I don’t want to wait any longer. On one hand it feels selfish to want this for myself, after all, my children are still very young, but, on the other hand, I want to live out my passions in front of my children and show them how to reach for their own. This means writing during naps and bedtime – for now.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:35 am   /  Reply

      I wrote an article for MomSense magazine about putting my writing on the backburner while raising my first 3 — and how I turned the heat completely “off” — and I regretted doing so. I missed writing all those years. One of tips in that article: Try to keep your passion on simmer in some way.
      So I say, dabble away!

  10. March 26, 2012, 9:22 am   /  Reply

    God has been opening some doors for me. I have had the blessing of writing 220 devotions in a three week time span, while working almost full-time during the day. Now I understand the pressure a writer must go under and I kept reminding myself this is what it takes. But, I did have to give up spending time outside in the beautiful Michigan weather we had all last week.

    Words of wisdom? I tried to take breaks every half hour or so and during that time give my kids a hug, my husband a kiss, just let them know I love them and I am still present and in the house.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:37 am   /  Reply

      Congratulations on that wide open door (and watch for more conversation on doors on Wednesday!).
      And yes, hugs and kisses go a long way. I just stopped long enough to hug my 11 1/2 year old as she headed out on a walk with her dad and big sister. (Yep, I hugged them too.)

  11. March 26, 2012, 9:38 am   /  Reply

    I’m writing this week, too. Fortunately, most of the family was elsewhere over the weekend, so I didn’t feel guilty about going away for a few days. But we’ll try to get some family hikes & fun in this week between my chapters.


    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 2:44 pm   /  Reply

      My family’s off on their own too right now … so I’m lasered in on the writing.

  12. Jeanne T
    March 26, 2012, 9:46 am   /  Reply

    Great quote, my friend, and my prayers are with you. It seems like those things that are worth doing well require sacrifice. In college, I gave up time with friends to do well on things like college papers. Same for my master’s. Since beginning on the writing journey, I’ve definitely given up lunches with many, choosing to focus on the a few people to “go deeper with.” I’ve given up leadership positions and devoted more time to learning the craft of writing. Remembering the big picture–that God has given me this story to write at this time–helps me to keep my focus where it needs to be. I wouldn’t trade my life now for what it was pre-writing. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 2:45 pm   /  Reply

      Agreed, Jeanne. I wouldn’t go back to my non-writing days, either.

  13. March 26, 2012, 10:01 am   /  Reply

    While working on getting an agent I am giving up my free time. I know it will be worth it, but it is hard to stay focused now that spring is here!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 2:46 pm   /  Reply

      I just snuck a peek at the sunshine outside my window … agreed!

  14. Loree Huebner
    March 26, 2012, 11:15 am   /  Reply

    Love the quote.

    I’ve had to give up personal time a long the way – not always easy.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 2:46 pm   /  Reply

      I like this quote too.
      A good reminder for me.

  15. March 26, 2012, 12:05 pm   /  Reply

    Balance is so very essential to writing, and this post shows you lead by example. How wonderful, Beth! It’s much easier for those you love to extend grace during deadline crunch times when they know that they really are number 1 at every other time. Praying for you as you meet those deadlines!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 2:47 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks for your prayers, Donna.

  16. March 26, 2012, 2:06 pm   /  Reply

    Best wishes on your deadline, Beth! Hopefully you can sneak in family time somewhere in there. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 2:47 pm   /  Reply

      I mananged to sneak them in today, Sarah — for lunch — and now it’s me staring down the deadline again.

  17. March 26, 2012, 8:06 pm   /  Reply

    I’m going through this right now. *sigh* No advice here, not yet anyway. lol

    • Beth Vogt
      March 26, 2012, 9:02 pm   /  Reply

      Maybe the advice will be of the hindsight is 20-20 variety.

  18. March 30, 2012, 9:07 pm   /  Reply

    I really appreciate what you said about family being #1 priority but not THE #1 priority this week. I find that to be so true! I’ve missed many family movie nights, trips to the beach, and just plain family fun because I’ve had work deadlines. Although I hate to miss out, I appreciate that my family understands and that my husband is there to pick up any slack and he takes advantage of the special “daddy time.”

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