A pie-chart epiphany

Thursday, November 29, 2018
When is a writing habit not a habit? When it's grounded in something more concrete and becomes part of you. Habits that support your self-concept and values can strengthen a foundation that ensures success.

Values come from beliefs about yourself and the world around you, and are influenced by your culture, experiences, peers, and family. Values can guide your thoughts, which, in turn, determine your behavior. When your values are clear, the definition of yourself becomes clear. This recognition of who you are can also help you set and meet your goals.

Spending time in support of your values feels right. Although they can be unpleasant to others, tasks like outlining and research can feel like heaven to a writer. Implementing my writing habits seem natural because it reinforces the idea of who I am.

Recently, a student gave me the gift of seeing life not as a line, but a space to establish and support our values. When I look at life as a circle (think pie chart), the focus is clear: The higher the value, the bigger the space.

Draw your own circle, and divide it into the important aspects of your life. These areas might include family, work, writing, exercise, spirituality, friends, and relaxation. The more important the item, the larger the space it should occupy.

When you look at the slices of the pie (division of time), your values become clear. If your values and time spent aren't equal, then adjust your schedule. Once you identify your values, then you can devote more time to activities and behaviors that support those values. Writers will be able to maximize their writing time, and minimize time spent doing the things that just don't matter. And it will feel right.

Mary Horner teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges. She recently had a pie-chart epiphany.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--Seeing something visually like that--in a pie chart--would help me make some adjustments. I've never thought of doing that. Am I ready to admit how big I'd have to draw a section for stuff like watching TV or vegging out or reading? I'm not sure. However, it's something to contemplate.

Thanks for this post.

Mary Horner said...

Thanks, Sioux, it came as a revelation to me, too. I've recently been watching True Crime shows and wouldn't want to share how big that piece of the pie would be! I'm (slowly) trying to adjust my time to reflect my values.

Renee Roberson said...


I hear ya on the true crime shows! I've been trying to devote more time this year to my personal writing goals and it's been tough! I was just thinking today I may have to start getting up even earlier than I already do during the week (and I'm NOT a morning person) to work more on my personal goals before work!

Mary Horner said...

I always like the idea of getting up earlier to exercise or write, but I usually don't do it! I'm a night owl, and as much as I would like to change, it's not easy.

Pat Wahler said...

I'm a visual person, and this sounds like a great way to look at how I spend my time. Thanks, Mary!

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