I read a fantastic article a while back about figuring out what’s really important to you, and what to do with the information. I can’t now find the article (helpful!), but I think it was from Zen Habits. I’ll post a link when I find it.
Anyway, this is something I found myself musing on last night. Figuring out your priorities is a great way to see if what you have in your life currently matches what you actually want (and if not, you can start making changes!)
For me, it’s enabling me to look at a couple of areas in my life, realize they are not part of my “life priorities”, and then allow myself to cut them out, without feeling so guilty.
I wanted to focus on my absolute musts in life. What can’t I live without? What would I fight for the hardest?
As I started making my list, I was surprised by the outcome. Things appeared where I didn’t think they would. And little things that I fill my day with, were nowhere to be seen!
Here is the scenario I created for myself. You might want to change it (and in fact, I think I might amend it soon). But it was a good way to get the juices flowing 🙂
Grab a pen and paper.
Imagine right now you have shelter, and money coming in. (It doesn’t matter how much. Let’s just say, “enough”. Enough for you to live comfortably, but you are not rich.)
So you’re covered – for food, shelter and an income. But NOTHING else. You’re just in this house/place, day in, day out. What more do you want out of your life?
Now comes the fun part.
You can request more “things” into your life, one by one. (Notice I didn’t say items – it’s not about material goods, necessarily.)
What will you ask for, as your absolute minimum in life? You can have TEN things. And after that, you can’t have anything else. Rules is rules, people! 🙂
Here is the list I made, point by point. What would I like in my life?
- Chris (my boyfriend). I would really like him in my life, please 🙂 And in this, I am encompassing: love, sex, affection, life partner, and companionship
- Family (close). My parents, and brothers and sisters.
- Health. Covers mental health, exercise, and healthy eating
- Friends. Care, support (both ways, of course!), fun, positive, laughs, companions
- Relaxation/enjoyment/flow. I need to figure out what this means for me.
- Learning. Skills, reading, stimulate, challenge
- Travel – near or far
- New experiences. Non-routine. (Not bar, movie, restaurant, repeat.)
- Love and cuddles – babies, kids, pets (not necessarily mine)
There were some other things I wanted to include, but I wasn’t sure if they fitted in with something above, should replace another category, or are just on the edge of my “top ten”:
- appreciation and positivity
- volunteering/giving back
What would you put on your list? Go ahead and fill it in. Your life is blank. Go fill it up with juicy, fulfilling notions or things! What is MOST important to you, or what would you ‘request’, if you could only have a few things?
It can be anything you want. You might want a beautiful house. You might want trips abroad. Or sunshine. Extended family (or no family at all). Or you might want a whole lot of money, to enable you to buy luxury items. What would you put in?
What is NOT on your list?
Here’s what I noticed from my list. I didn’t list any of the stupid things that I actually spend a lot of time doing! Cleaning, emails, seeing people out of a sense of duty. Worrying! Doing things to impress other people.
So now, when I am doing one of those things, I think to myself, “Is this on my list of important things? No? So why am I spending time on it?! Why aren’t I focusing on what’s really important to me?”
Of course, I realize that it’s kind of important to clean the house or write emails sometimes. But the emails to friends and family can be included in that “category”, rather than me making a big deal of them and putting them on my never-ending to-do list. When I write an email I can think, “Here I am, checking in with a friend or family member that I love. And this is important to me.” I’m hoping my attitude towards these things will change from “urgh, another thing to do”, to “I want to reach out to this person, because they are important to me”.
And cleaning the house will never be fun for me. But I love music… so I can probably combine the two somehow, if I put my thinking cap on 🙂
I put my boyfriend and my family as most important on my list. So why don’t I acknowledge that more? Why do I take my partner for granted, or snap at him, or not spend more time doing things with (or for) him?! Why don’t I think about and reach out to my family more, rather than wasting my time on something that I consider to be less significant?
Really focus on what you want
I only put immediate family, instead of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. It’s not that I don’t care about them, or want to see or reach out to them. My extended family are awesome, and I have a great time when I’m with them. It’s just that my immediate family are one of my absolute highest priorities, so I feel I need to focus on them first.
A work in progress…
One thing I haven’t figured out is that I haven’t put “work” on this list. I thought that income would complicate things if it wasn’t included at the start. But work makes up such a big part of most of our lives. Maybe it does need to go on there somehow. Oh well. Like me, this list/exercise is a work in progress 🙂
And of course, you’ll never require exactly ten things. Perhaps for you it’s more, or less. But I’m a sucker for round numbers, so ten felt right for me to start with.
I’d love you to try it as well. Did it work for you? What was on your list that you didn’t realize was so important to you – and what did you leave off?
Write it out, and put it on your wall as a reminder!
These are your life priorities… Do you treat them that way?!