8 Favorite Resources to Help Make Your Hoped-For Work a Possibility in Your Right-Now Life

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These are a collection of resources, some as short as a blog post and others as long as a book, that have helped me approach my work in recent years. {Both my right-now work and my hoped-for work.}

For me, the best resources are ones that I return to, quote, remember, and recommend. All of these qualify. Here they are, in no particular order.

 

1. “How to Make Time and Space for the Life You Really Want” by Ann Voskamp.
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This post of hers inspired this post of mine. It was, in a sense, the catalyst for the entire series and the inspiration I needed to create time when I didn’t have any to spare.

 

2. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
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This book y’all. Its message rings in my ears whenever any opportunity presents itself. I don’t believe we have to be all or nothing with our yeses and our no’s. But I do believe we need to be wise and deliberate. Essentialism is like a shot glass of permission to spend yourself wisely. I say “no” with much less guilt now. And I say “yes” with more confidence.

 

3. The Magical Key to Doing It All by Kendra Adachi at The Lazy Genius Collective

What’s the solution? Being you. And your “all” looks different than mine or anyone else’s.

This short post is like a reset button for your life and your to-do list. The LGC helps all of us “be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.” This, in my opinion, is simply Being an Adult 101, and I think they should teach it in school.

 

4. A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Life by Emily P. Freeman
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“Do you desperately fear you have nothing to offer the world but secretly hope you’re wrong?” Then get this book.

It’s time to uncover the shape of your soul, turn down the voice of the inner critic, and move into the world with the courage to be who you most deeply are. Creating a life of meaning is not about finding that one great thing you were made to do, it’s about knowing the one great God you were made to glorify–in a million little ways.

It’s no secret that I’m one of Emily’s biggest fans and have gobbled up everything she’s written over the last 8 or 9 years. She is my soul sister. The end.

 

5. The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women’s Work by Kathleen Norris
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Yes to anything that makes laundry feel sacred and that’s written with the scholarly and gentle voice of Kathleen Norris. This book is tiny. {88 pages, yay!} Best of all, it inspires me to embrace the “mundane” work of my right-now life with gratitude and grace, a thoughtful reminder that “laundry, liturgy, and women’s work all serve to ground us in the world, and they need not grind us down.”

 

6. Choosing Rest: Cultivating a Sunday Heart in a Monday World by Sally Breedlove
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Again, this is a book that makes me breathe deeply and removes all traces of panic from my work. It’s not easy to rest when there’s so much to finish, whether it’s the dishes or my writing or relationships that aren’t tidy. If you can relate, this book will be a gift. It’s one to read slowly and restfully, one that you’ll want to re-read when you need reminding of what true rest looks like.

 

7. Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin
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Gretchen Rubin is our Type-A friend who is so kind and common-sense, we can’t help but adore her even though she’s perfect. I love this book in its entirety but it’s worth the price of the book for the first section — explaining the four tendencies and figuring out which one you are.

I sort everyone into four categories, which describe how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

I’m a self-professed personality test junkie. Gretchen’s simple framework has been huge in my life. Huge. {I don’t say that lightly. It’s even helped my marriage but that’s a different story.}

Knowing how I respond to an expectation {as an “Obliger”} has helped me craft my work, both my right-now jobs and my hoped-for work, in a way that’s effective for my type. For example, I need certain types of accountability and deadlines. If you’re trying to get traction as you pursue your own hoped-for work, it’s important to know what scenario works best for you and what doesn’t. P.S. She’s currently writing a book on just the four tendencies and I’m first in line.

 

8. Hope*Writers

 

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This resource is for those of you who are writers. Or for those of you who think you might be a writer but you don’t have the courage to give yourself that label yet.

Wish you could sit with an author you trustand ask all your writing questions? This is your chance to do that,
Only better.

I’ve been a member of Hope*Writers since the beginning and I’m being for real when I say that these people and all they offer helps keep me in the game. I’ve been to conferences, purchased books, and read plenty on the internet over the years. This site is like all of those resources except with friends. Who are experts. But feel like next door neighbors. I’m not an affiliate; I’m just a real-life member who’s a BIG fan. And…they just launched the FREE Hope*Writers podcast.

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I love it. As in, I’ve actually listened to two of the podcasts more than once because they’re chock full of practical help plus I laugh till’ I cry. {Also, if you have a listen, you’ll get a special trial offer to join Hope*Writers.}

 

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And here’s a list of the posts in this 8-part series.

I’ll soon have a graphic in the right sidebar of the blog {or at the bottom of the page if you’re reading on a mobile device} that links to the entire series. It’s there to encourage you when you’re tempted to quit, smothered by your right-now life, and feeling like this hoped-for work is a waste of time. It’s not. There’s hope.

Never stop starting.

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It has been so fulfilling to write this series and to walk this hopeful road with you. You’ve encouraged me with your stories and asked such thoughtful questions along the way. If this series has been helpful for you, forward it to a friend and share a dose of possibility.

I doubt this is the last you’ll hear from me on the topic, so keep the questions and comments coming. What’s something you’d love to see addressed in another post? I’m all ears.

How to Embrace Your Right-Now Work Even if it’s Not Your Hoped-For Work

One Gift Your Right-Now Work Is Giving You, Even If You Smell Like Marinara Sauce

4 Simple Ways to Create Time When You Don’t Have Any to Spare

4 Reasons Why Your Right-Now Work Matters to Jesus {even if it doesn’t matter to you}

2 Ways to Give Your Hoped-For Work a Voice. Right Now.

3 Ways to Avoid Despair as You Pursue Your Hoped-For Work

“Never stop starting.” And 5 Other Truths to Keep Your Hoped-For Work Alive in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

8 Favorite Resources to Help Make Your Hoped-for Work a Possibility in Your Right-Now Life

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*Book links are amazon affiliates and help keep the lights on at marianvischer.com. : )

“Never Stop Starting” & 4 Other Truths to Keep Your Hoped-for Work Alive in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

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On February 24, I sat down to write a tidy little post for those of us who feel like our right-now lives are keeping us from our hoped-for work. Eight posts and over two months later, I’m still learning how to live responsibly in the right-now while not letting go of the hoped-for. It’s continually relevant because it’s a tug-of-war we experience every day.

This “balance” is not for the faint-hearted. Not only do you battle the limitations of the right now, you battle the voices of the right now.

Do you actually think you’re a real writer, a real artist, a real counselor, a real photographer, a real teacher, a real leader, a real coach?

Aren’t you neglecting other things that could use your attention?

Wouldn’t it be easier for you to let go of this dream and settle for a normal life?

 

The answer is yes. To all of those questions.

And that’s why we need encouragement. Because making space for our hoped-for work when there are sheets to wash and kids to raise and a real job to show up for takes creative strategy and courage. Sometimes we’re convinced that the voices are right. We’re tempted to close the coffin lid on our hoped-for work, cry a few tears, and move on like a responsible grown-up.

I’m mostly for all for being a responsible grown-up. But I wrote this series because I don’t think the answers are as “all or nothing” as we assume. There’s hope in the messy middle. So today I give you one more pep talk in this final post of the series.

1. Honor the sacred rhythms of work and rest.
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You are not a machine that can be programmed. You are a person who needs to be cared for. A person with limited brain space and finite energy. Rest sometimes feels lazy but it’s one of the most productive things we can do for our right-now work. Whether it’s a weekly one-day sabbath from all work or stepping away from the screen when you feel stuck, learn the rhythms of rest that are fruitful for you. This is how we maintain momentum, sanity, and perspective. Also, your work will be better. I promise.

 

2. Your right-now life and your hoped-for work may be more closely tied than you think.

While I blogged in the midst of marriage and motherhood and homeschooling and public schooling, I learned how to create content, how to market that content, how to run a self-hosted WordPress site, how to interpret Google Analytics, and how to create basic graphics for my posts. Unbeknownst to me, I was acquiring what smart people call “a skill set.”

A little over a year ago I ran into a friend on a rainy Friday. We chatted for a few minutes and she mentioned that the local non-profit she directs could use someone to help with their new website, manage social media, help create content, etc. She knew I could do these things because she’d been watching me do it on my blog.

All those years of making space for my hoped-for work in the midst of my right-then life? It had layers of purpose beyond what I could see.

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Not giving up on writing in the midst of the messy everyday ended up earning me a steady paycheck for my right-now season. I still don’t make money blogging, but I do make money because I’ve been blogging.

My point? Keep showing up and doing the work. Be open to learning new skills that accompany the work. You never know how it may all be mixed up together in happy, surprising ways.

 

3. Don’t focus on numbers or popular support.

It’s okay to become successful but don’t let wishful outcomes mess with the heart of your hoped-for work. It’s a normal temptation, one that even Jesus dealt with as his own work was finding favor with the masses. I love how Tim Keller breaks down this pivotal moment in the life of Christ:

When Simon told him that there were huge crowds gathered to see him, Jesus said that they should immediately leave. Though he was riding a wave of popular support, Jesus left it behind. Why? He was much more interested in the quality of the people’s response to him than in the quantity of the crowd.  

Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God by Timothy Keller; passage referred to is Mark 1:35-38

We want to know that our hoped-for work will mean something in quantifiable terms. We want an “ROI,” a return on investment for all the blood, sweat, and tears we’ve poured into it. Too often, we assume that ROI means “big.” Sometimes it does. But I think we’re prone to measuring results in ways that are all wrong. Jesus wasn’t interested in how many people were in awe of his message. He didn’t come to be popular. He came to change hearts with his love and his truth, to call people to himself. He said the road would be narrow. {That’s code for “most people will reject what I offer.”}

From Jesus, we learn to be wise and even strategic, but not at the expense of faithfulness to our true work.

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Jesus ascended to fame. But he just as quickly fell into disfavor, a disfavor that led to his death by the same crowds that had previously cheered him on. But life defeated death. And our hoped-for work bursting forth from the messy right-now reflects this same redemption. Friend, be faithful to the work. Keep showing up. You are an offering to your Maker and to the world he made. He can be trusted with the outcomes.

 

4. Never stop starting.

You may have awesome momentum for a solid month. And then everyone in your house gets the stomach virus and passes it around for two weeks. Momentum has packed her bags and hitchhiked to Montana. Motivation got tired of waiting for you and took off with Momentum.

It doesn’t take very much real life to yank us off the rails. That’s why you need this three-word mantra: “Never stop starting.”

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Isn’t that what we do every day in so many ways, whether it’s exercise, parenting, spiritual disciplines, or sticking to a budget? Just last night I was fed up with schedules, fed up with my kids needing money, and fed up with the dailyness of dinner. I wanted to run away {which is always my default fantasy.} But this morning I woke up with an ounce of resilience and said to myself, “Okay. It’s a new day. We can do this.”

You’ll stop. And sometimes you feel like you’ve got no start left in you. You don’t need a lifetime’s worth of start. You only need enough for today.

 

5. You need reinforcement.

You’re pursuing who you are while living in a world that is trying to make you into someone else. This is war.

Like soldiers, we need reinforcement by way of fresh hope and steady encouragement and one another. On the days when you don’t feel like fighting and in the moments when you’ve stopped believing, return to this space and remember what you’ve forgotten in the daily grind of right now.

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Share it with your friends, your family, your community. You may find some unexpected community in the process. And if you do? Link arms with likeminded others. We all need our someones.

When the right now feels extra messy and the hoped-for work is languishing in a corner, come on over to this place and find possibility again. I’ll have a link to the entire series in the right sidebar. It’s all yours.

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Though this is my last official post in series, next week I’ll have a list of ALL my favorite resources — links, books, and online spaces that keep me going and teach me useful things along the way. It’ll be fun.

I can’t thank y’all enough for showing up here. Your company has been a gift. I appreciate each and every word you’ve shared in response. You’ve encouraged me more than you know.

I’ve got some fresh content up my sleeve but I look forward to revisiting this topic of hoped-for work and entertaining your questions on the subject. Keep them coming! What are your greatest obstacles to pursuing your hoped-for work in the midst of your right-now life? What specific encouragement do you need for your own life?

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Here are the other posts in the series:

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How to Embrace Your Right-Now Work Even if it’s Not Your Hoped-For Work

One Gift Your Right-Now Work Is Giving You, Even If You Smell Like Marinara Sauce

4 Simple Ways to Create Time When You Don’t Have Any to Spare

4 Reasons Why Your Right-Now Work Matters to Jesus {even if it doesn’t matter to you}

2 Ways to Give Your Hoped-For Work a Voice. Right Now.

3 Ways to Avoid Despair as You Pursue Your Hoped-For Work

“Never stop starting.” And 5 Other Truths to Keep Your Hoped-For Work Alive in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

8 Favorite Resources to Help Make Your Hoped-for Work a Possibility in Your Right-Now Life

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3 Ways to Avoid Despair as You Pursue Your Hoped-For Work

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This post right here? It’s a timely one. I’ve just come off a couple of weeks of working full-time hours for my part-time job. Even though it was expected and planned for, when I’m working overtime + making sure people get fed and clothed and picked up and cheered on from the bleachers and consoled, you can count on some ugly aftermath.

You can count on a house that looks like a Category 20 hurricane swept through it. You can count on a wife and mom who is tired and cranky. You can count on this same exhausted woman to do something completely irrational like paint the living room that has knotty pine walls and has thus far required three coats of primer and can she just pretend she never started this job?

And you can count on her wanting to abandon her hoped-for work because she hasn’t written in ten days and therefore no longer feels like a writer. She knows starting is the hardest part but ohmygosh, the starting doesn’t ever get easier.

I have cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed the toilets and walked the dog this morning. It’s called “productive procrastination.” It shows up every time I have lost the will to write and also before I need to pack for a trip.

I’m oddly thankful for these adverse circumstances. They remind me that pursuing our hoped-for work isn’t all writers’ conferences and art shows and a thousand likes on social media. It’s not all perfectly steamed lattes at the coffee shop and thoughtful contemplation and art that flows off fingertips.

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Presently I’m writing on my porch while also spraying poison on a patch of ants that showed up out of nowhere. And I have a child with a fever on the sofa in the living room with half-primed walls.

Sometimes pursuing my hoped-for work looks like duct taping my pajama-clad self to the chair and writing already, even though I don’t feel like a writer and I want need to finish painting the living room and my kids have been sick and out of school a lot this year.

The most epic battles are often fought on everyday soil. Fighting for our hoped-for work in the midst of our messy right-now lives is no different.

Today I give you three ways to keep your perspective and fight despair when you’re barely hanging on to your hoped-for work:

 

1. Don’t envy another’s work life.
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I struggle with this one in embarrassing ways, believing the lie that if only I had her circumstances or his capital, I could meet my goals and do my thing. I’ve believed this just today actually. And every time I find myself sliding into the pit of envy, I have a choice to make: surrender to resentment or receive my own life.

Ironically, the challenges of the everyday usually become my inspiration. Frustration is often the fuel that gets me writing in the first place. This entire series on work — it’s been born out of my own wrestling. I thought I needed a spacious writing life to be the writer I wanted to be. God is showing me otherwise. It’s messy. But the mess is my medium and God makes art out of it anyway.

There is freedom that comes in receiving your own life instead of envying someone else’s.

And don’t be fooled by the seemingly grand and spacious lives of others. There are unique struggles that come with each stage of success. Keep working at your own pace, on the canvas of your own life.

I will never stop needing this reminder from Henri Matisse:

Much of the beauty that arises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.

 

2. Accept abrupt transitions.

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When I was in college, I ran the 10,000 meter race in track. That’s 25 laps around a 400-meter track. Please don’t be impressed. I literally needed half of those laps to get warmed up. I was never a sprinter. It was true of my running life and it’s true of my writing life. Sure, I can hustle when I need to. I can crank out a product when I’m called on. But hurry comes at a cost because I’m a contemplative at heart. I’m a long-distance, slow-paced runner living in a world that spins a bit too fast for my liking.

I don’t have the personality where I can easily switch from task to task and embrace interruptions. I have the personality that might glare at you with violent eyes if you interrupt me while I’m in the middle of deep, thoughtful work or when more than one person is audibly asking for something at the same time.

This is why I live in a perpetual state of whiplash. My right-now life doesn’t accommodate my slow-paced taste and my need for long runways.

I try to get up early because, again, it takes me a long time to adjust to wakefulness. Plus it gives me time to align my spirit with the heart of God and embrace the day’s work before the rest of the house wakes up. Because when that happens, I’m jolted into the world of squabbling siblings and “Mom! Are you making oatmeal?” Then we stumble out the door and rush three kids to three different schools. By 8:15 in the a.m., I need a nap.

Each day is a mashup of paid work, housework, writing work, family work, kitchen work, and unexpected work. Stop times and start times are not always under my control. I may be deep in the writing zone and then pow! My littlest guy gets off the bus and I am quickly zapped into the world of Pokemon trades and after-school snacks.

Changing hats so abruptly throughout the day is not my jam. But it is my right-now life. And change hats I must.

Sometimes we can use abrupt transitions as an excuse. “Well I only have an hour so it’s not worth sitting down to write.” That hour is still an hour of hoped-for work. And while it may not be enough time to finish anything, it reminds you that this is what you do. It’s the daily discipline of reclaiming your identity and relaunching your hope. It keeps you in the game and serves as a deposit on deeper work that may show up later.

 

3. Tell someone.

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The land of hoped-for work can be a lonely place. Too often, we dream our dreams in solitude and do our work in isolation. We languish and lose momentum and tell ourselves we’re crazy. It’s the rare person who doesn’t need some sort of accountability to stay the course.

Community, whether it’s two people or twelve, helps keep me going. I’ve dared to speak my hopes out loud and I’ve had the privilege of cradling the dreams of others. Part of the reason I sat down this morning is because I told my “someones” I would keep writing — my writing friend in New Jersey who I vox and e-mail with, a small community of creatives across different time zones that I talk to regularly {thank you technology}, my husband who gives me Saturdays to work on a writing project. And you.

Yes, you. You take time out of your busy life and meet me here. And sometimes you tell me that what I wrote made you feel normal instead of crazy. You allow me show up in your life and serve you. You remind me that this hoped-for work is my offering.You guys are my “someones.”


 

My next post will have a few more tips to keep you going. And then I’ll have a wrap-up post with my favorite resources to share!

Thanks for staying with me. Y’all sure know how to keep a sister going.

What are your greatest obstacles to pursuing your hoped-for work in the midst of your right-now life? 

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If you’re new around here, we’ve been winding our way through a series on work. Here are the other posts in the series:

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How to Embrace Your Right-Now Work Even if it’s Not Your Hoped-For Work

One Gift Your Right-Now Work Is Giving You, Even If You Smell Like Marinara Sauce

4 Simple Ways to Create Time When You Don’t Have Any to Spare

4 Reasons Why Your Right-Now Work Matters to Jesus {even if it doesn’t matter to you}

2 Ways to Give Your Hoped-For Work a Voice. Right Now.

3 Ways to Avoid Despair as You Pursue Your Hoped-For Work

“Never stop starting.” And 5 Other Truths to Keep Your Hoped-For Work Alive in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life

8 Favorite Resources to Help Make Your Hoped-for Work a Possibility in Your Right-Now Life

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