People talk a lot about what they love, where they wanna be, what they believe, and what they wanna accomplish in life. But when you look at how they’re living, things often point in the opposite direction. And more often than we’d like to admit, those people are us.
We make proclamations about being devout Christians (or other religion). We talk about how much we value family. Then of course there are things like our careers and our extracurriculars — including organizations that we belong to. We speak of trying to change our lives and get to a better place. Unfortunately and because of our own doing, we fall victim to our circumstances then end up complaining and confused. We may not do it everyday, but we do it enough that it’s noticeable and have to remind ourselves to be grateful.
Like me, if you were to sit down and write out what your priorities are and think about how you spend your free time, you’ll see that they aren’t in the order that you thought they were.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called “Beginning at the End: How Do You Want to Be Remembered?” You may have read it. If not, it was about what you would want people to say about you if you had to attend your own funeral. When you put things in that perspective, you see what you truly care about, which lays the framework for how you should live your life.
If faith without deeds is dead, then thought without action is dirt.
Take a minute and think about how you spend your time throughout the day. Nah, seriously. Think about it.
You know what your priorities should be. You know all the things that need to be accomplished. You know the work that should be done, the phone calls that need to be made, and the people or events you need to support. But if you’re like me or have ever been like me, you’ve found yourself passing up on people and places because you’re tired, or feel short on time that you’ve subconsciously stolen from your own wallet for a cheap unproductive fix.
What I’ve learned while reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is that if you want to accomplish something and you feel strongly about it, you’ll find a way to get it done. Nobody will have to push, you’ll just make it happen. And if you don’t get it done one day and then that one day turns into two, three, or four, then it probably wasn’t as important to you to get done as you initially thought. Yes, it may have been important for someone else. But for you, not so much.
The best example I can think of is work, because well…that’s where I spend most of my time during the week. I get all the stuff done that needs to get done. But most times (unless you’re my boss and have discovered this blog, in which case I’ll clear my desk tomorrow), it ends up getting addressed at the last minute because I know the deadline. Admittedly, this isn’t the best way to go about things, but it works…for me…for now.
The problem with getting things done at the last minute is that if anything goes wrong or you suddenly need to put out a fire, everything goes to sh*t and then you’re stressed. You’re rearranging other things you had planned. You’re cancelling on folks because you need to stay at work. You’re not making it to the gym because you had to stay late or stay up late and now you’re exhausted. You’ll keep telling folks you’re busy and you’ll wonder why you never have any free time. You turn your life’s priorities into a set of dominos that’ll end up falling on each other before crushing you.
But if you REALLY cared about that free time, you’d have it. You’d be efficient. You’d make it a priority to get stuff done early so that you can get to the other things you care about. If this isn’t an issue for you today, congratulations. You’re a step ahead of a lot of us. But if not, let me give you daps and welcome you to the club.
On the way to work the other day, I made a list of all my values based on the “begin with the end in mind” exercise. I typed with my Yeti claw some of the major roles I play in life:
- Brother (Church)
- Website Admin/CEO
- Direct Report
- Athlete (wishful thinking)
Once I finished making my list, I thought about the way I said I wanna be remembered.
I ended up ranking these roles and outlining some of the values attached to each. The list ended up looking a lot different than I expected, but resulted in priorities I could be proud of. And just because I ranked them in a particular order doesn’t mean they need to be knocked off that way.
For instance, if it’s a priority to meet up with my friends once a week and call two family members, then I need to get all my work, writing, reading, and exercise done. I know that if I waste too much time during the day that it’ll have a chain reaction effect on the rest of my week and something will get bumped from the list. And if something keeps getting bumped from the list, then it needs to be dropped all together. But when I look at the list of my roles and accompanying priorities, I don’t wanna drop any of them because they contribute the most to making me who I am.
Oops, writing time is up. I need to study. But I’ll leave you with this, which you can imagine me shouting from the top of the stairs in a library:
Stop robbing yourself of time, relationships, and the things you love for the sake of the things you like.
Besides, if you can’t keep to your own priorities, why should anybody else make you theirs?
Actions speak louder than thought bubbles,
P.S. Check out my latest post for UPTOWN Magazine: 3 Signs He IS Just That Into You!