Alternative title: Priorities. Are mine in the right order?
It’s been A Month, friends. I knew November was going to kick my rear and it truly has. I think it was the travel out of state, combined with several things at work finally moving forward (and therefore requiring my involvement/participation/presence), that sent me over the edge. I have finally managed to feel like I have a grasp on my time, and my to do list, now. Which, of course, means that we’re heading into the end of the semester and things are going to get bonkers again.
I haven’t been writing (as in, writing in longhand) in my paper journal recently. But I have been doing nightly mini-journaling in the Reflection app. I’ve mentioned this before – it seems similar to the Day One app other bloggers have said they use. It sends reminders to write something about each day, and provides options for tagging (e.g., highlight vs. lowlight), as well as prompts if your mind goes blank.
The other evening, I actually followed the prompt , even though I usually do not. Here’s the prompt:
Busy is a decision … you don’t find the time to do things — you make the time to do things. – Debbie Millman
If you’ve been reading here any length of time, you are right if you suspect that hit me hard. Here is part of my response:
Oh, but I am awful at not being busy. I find things to do. Always. Even when I am sick or injured. Rest just seems anathema to me. I know I should rest more but it’s so hard when you feel time crunched and like you’re never going to get to the finish line.
But is there one? I mean, I could keep going forever and the finish line will just keep receding into the distance.
It was that last sentence that really hit home for me after I wrote it. I know I’ve blathered on about this endlessly here, but for some reason, the word priorities really brought it home. Hopefully once and for all. Because it’s absolutely true. I will honestly never cross the finish line – there will always be another goal to achieve, another grant to write, another study to (try to) conduct. What does it say about me that I prioritize work over taking the time to do the things that bring me joy, outside of work?
My priorities are all wrong. I’ve prioritized work for years now. I haven’t prioritized my relationships (which are important to me, but how would anyone know that, looking at how I spend my time?). I haven’t prioritized making sure that what I am doing in any given moment is what’s best for me in that moment.
Turning, as always, for wisdom and insight from others, I found a few mini-gems in saved essays and quotes:
“The Western collective consciousness teaches us that when we get to the end of something, then we will be happy, whole, complete, and successful. When we graduate from high school or college, when we get married, when we have kids, when we get the dream job, then life will really be rolling. We’re constantly chasing a carrot on a stick that’s always just out of reach. When we reach the milestone that we thought was our golden key to happiness, the feeling of satisfaction is fleeting. So we think, “Okay, well I did that, and it didn’t quite bring me the happiness I was thinking it would, so maybe it was just a stepping stone. Maybe when xyz happens, that will make me happy. That will be the real win.” This elusive state of contentment is always around the next corner. We’re racing toward something that will never give us what we’re hoping for. The only way to truly win this race of life is to realize there is no race.” ~Polly Green (via TinyBuddha)
“First, know your priorities. Every time you say “yes” to more work you’re saying “no” to the other aspects of your life that you value. By taking inventory of your list of priorities, and where work lies on that list, you can make decisions that will help you live a more fulfilling life. Second, address the underlying issues. Oftentimes we work to avoid thinking about our insecurities or shortcomings. Or, we think we need to have more money in order to be loved. I’ve been guilty of both of these.” ~Mike Fishbein (also via TinyBuddha)
So, more ideas and questions for me to consider… Why do I think working all the time will make me happy, or will fulfill me? What insecurities do I have that I may be trying not to think about? (Haaa…there are so, so many…) What are my shortcomings? And, perhaps most important, what are my values? What is important to me? Are actions or activities that are important among my priorities? If not (and, spoiler alert, I suspect most will fall into the “not” category…), why not? And how can I change that?
Guess it’s time to pick up that journal again… Thanks, as always, for listening to me ramble on and on, friends. Working through all these cognitive, emotional, and psychological knots is not easy, and knowing you are out there (even if you just read the first paragraph, rolled your eyes, and said, “Again???”) helps a lot.
Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US. I’ll be celebrating with my ex-spouse and his family. This is 2022. 😉