What Should My Priorities Be
Whoa, slow down there big fella. That’s one heck of a question to be asking. But you are not along in asking this. A quick google search showed me that this phrase will produce over 65 MILLION results. So don’t be too hard on yourself, there’s a lot of other people asking the same question. And I was kidding, it doesn’t have to be a big deal type of question. Let’s discuss how we can answer the question what should my priorities be.
How Did I Get Here
It is not uncommon to have an awakened type moment and literally ask yourself out loud “how did I get here”?
- How did I get through college and now I’m 25 and I haven’t started a real career?
- When did I wake up and I have 2 young kids and a 7 year marriage and a job I don’t really like?
- How is it that my life consists of nothing more than going to work, taking my kids to soccer practice, and doing chores?
- What ever happened to all of my friends I had in high school and college and why don’t I ever talk to them any more?
- Wait, didn’t I use to do things for FUN? What happened to that?
- My last child just went off to college and it’s hard for me to imagine living in this house with just my spouse. We don’t do anything together nor do I particularly like him/her. Now what?
These type scenarios and MANY others happen to all of us from time to time. It’s very easy to lose track of not only who you are but what is important to you. As we enter adulthood and get married and have kids we get saddled with responsibility. This is how life happens. And that’s okay if that’s what you want. The issue comes when people put what is important to them on the shelf on an ongoing basis. When this happens it’s easy to lose track of the person you are as well as what your priorities should be.
Step one is to take back control of your life. Yes, I know you are busy. So am I, so is she, so is he, so are most people I know. Being busy doesn’t make you special, it makes you a person with a life so get over yourself. My very first post on this website was titled “Busy or Effective” and that is incredible relevant here. We are all busy with the same stuff – returning emails, picking up after our lazy kids, grocery shopping, paying bills, checking out notifications because you know things just crash and burn if we miss a notification. Speaking of which my Apple Watch just buzzed and I was notified of a tweet by someone I follow. How lame is that? And that’s exactly my point! Don’t ever forget you have a big hand in controlling how many distractions are in your life. So take control of the little things in life that distract you and do your best to MINIMIZE them.
Get Quiet, Get Focused, and Think
A key step in deciding what your priorities should be is to take stock of what’s currently in your life. Take a long deep look into every aspect of your life and decide if it adds value to you. I’ve found the best way to catch everything I have going on in my life is to walk myself through a week and also a month for the bigger events. I’m pretty meticulous at keeping a daytime to track what I have going on but you can do this just as easy if you give yourself some quiet time. Take your time and mark them all down. The big ones like job, marriage, kids, health, home, you can put put down on paper fairly quickly. Then get into things like chores, coaching soccer practice, down time, family time, you get the point. And now you need to take a long deep think into each one of these activities or people or situations and if you LIKE them and if they add value to your life.
Once you’ve gone through your list you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s important to you and what’s not. Once you have your list simply divide into things that are important to you and things that aren’t important to you. If you don’t like one of the big ticket items in your life you’ve got some decision making to do. For instance if you really don’t like the person you’re married to you need to do something about that. Either try to make it a happier place for everyone or end it. Same thing with your job. The big things that take up BIG chunks of your life better add a lot of value. If you don’t like your spouse or your job that’s a problem and it seriously impacts the quality of your life. You’ll need to put on your big boy pants and address that.
Now the things that you do but you don’t really like, do you best to minimize them. Hire someone to mow the lawn. Dedicate 60 minutes a week to cleaning the house and that’s it. Do those type minimizing as much as possible. Cut down on the clutter and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Remember, just because it’s somebody else’s emergency doesn’t mean it’s yours.
Remember, this is YOUR life. It’s not your wife’s or your mom’s or you kids, it’s yours. Yes, you have responsibility to those folks and I’m not advocating being a horrible dad or a non-existent husband. What I am advocating is to make sure you have time for what you want to do. Not always everyday but on a regular consistent basis. Ensure that you make time for the things in life that you enjoy. If you have a hobby or are passionate about something make sure you create the time to do this. Do you like to workout and stay healthy? Then take the time to do that and don’t let anyone guilt you into feeling “selfish” for wanting to stay healthy. Note I’m not suggesting you completely blow off your responsibilities, rather I’m suggesting you make time for what you want as well. I read somewhere once that you should spend at one hour a day doing something you really want to do. Don’t let life be just “to do” stuff.
Try Some New Stuff
If you are like a lot of people you might not really know what gets your gears turning. You may be so accustomed to living your life for others that you’ve forgotten what you like. Or you might try to re-engage in things you used to like but now it doesn’t really get you going like it used to. That’s okay, try some new things. Don’t be afraid to try some new things, you might discover a new passion. Take a cooking class, learn how to be a master griller, become king of the smoker, learn to salsa, pick up a guitar in middle age, start a band with some guys from the neighborhood, start playing poker, start going to see bands again, become a personal trainer on the side, whatever you want to try, give it a shot. You might find something new that you really like to do and it could start stoking your fires again. And if you don’t like it, okay, that’s fine, you gave it a shot. It’s just as important to find out what you don’t like.
What should my priorities be? That my friend, is a great question. And only one that you will be able to answer. Life gets as full as you allow it to with lots of stuff that you feel like you have to take care of right now. Many of these urgent items are other people’s agenda’s, not yours. Keep that in mind when you feel you have to react to something quickly. Ask yourself if it aligns with your priorities. If it doesn’t, don’t jump like a bunny on an electrified floor to make it happen.
The only person that can tell you what your priorities should be is you. You have to force yourself to slow down and take a long look at what fills your life up now. After that you need to be honest with yourself about what is important and what isn’t. Get rid of what isn’t and get more of what is important. It’s really that simple.
Notice I didn’t say it was easy, just that it was simple.
You got this,