Your Priorities Are Killing You


♫ I crucify myself every day and my heart is sick of being in chains… But I gotta have my suffering so that I can have my cross. I know a cat named Easter he says will you ever learn? You’re just an empty cage girl if you kill the bird. ♫
Crucify, Tori Amos

“My heart hurts so bad because I don’t have time to do what I love,” she said.
“It’s a sad thing really.  I feel like my soul is dying.”

“Well?” I asked.  “What’s stopping you?”

“I have to clean my house.”

I listened for awhile as she laid out a systematic thought process on why one thing or another had to happen, and in what order, before she could allow herself to feed and nurture her own soul.  Stephen Covey - On Priorities - Designed by Aberrant CrochetSeveral times I offered an idea, some resource information, a different perspective, only to be shot down every time.  Task, after task, after task she listed.  And the way it sounded, it wouldn’t be weeks, but years before she would finally have time.  Maybe.

It’s not a new conversation for me.  I’ve had this exact kind of conversation, or better described – listening session, a multitude of times with people over the decades.  Sometimes there seem to be good reasons and logic as to why one thing or another must wait.  But most of the time, the logic is actually false and the reasons only excuses dressed up to look important.

“I can’t begin writing a book unless I learn how to write to a publisher first.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - On Priorities - Designed by Aberrant Crochet“I can’t sell my house because my husband hasn’t replaced the shag carpet, so there’s no point in talking to an agent until he does.”

“I can’t spend time with my kids because I haven’t made enough money first.”

“I love to paint, but I can’t. Because the people at work stress me out, so when I come home I’m not in the mood. Why even try?”

“I can’t exercise because my boss gives me too much work to do. I know it’s hurting my health, but I’ll lose everything if I try to take time.”

“Who can afford to buy organic milk?” someone asks, with two bags of Doritos in their grocery basket.

“I’d like to take a class, but it’s too far away.”

“I know I need more sleep, but I can’t get everything done if I do.”

“The only way I’ll ever get to stop to breathe is if I win the lottery or something. Of course I don’t play.  I’m not an idiot.”

“I’d love to do ______.  But, you know, I’m a mom.  So I can’t.”

And frozen in this false sense of logic, we decide there’s only one way things can work out and so we do nothing to act.  We do nothing to better our selves or lives. We stay stuck in a rut that we (supposedly) hate.

How did we manage to lock our true selves away and set such bad priorities?

Steven Pressfield - On Priorities - Designed by Aberrant Crochet
At no point will stuff be more important than your relationship with your kids. At no point will the dusting be more important than your soul.  At no point does anyone have more control over your life than you do.  And maybe if you ditch the Doritos, you can buy two gallons of organic milk, not just one.  If you really want to.

WTF.  WHY ARE YOU HERE?

I want my life to have meaning – how about you?  There are many ways around and over and even through that mountain we see in our lives.  Mahatma Gandhi - Action Expresses Priorities - Designed by Aberrant CrochetAnd if we don’t put the real things that matter in life first, our lives will never seem fulfilling.  We have to stop putting the meaningful stuff off and stop making excuses.  Stop putting off our relationships.  Stop ignoring our souls.

Our priorities should reflect what we value.  Otherwise we become our own jailers.

It’s true – sometimes our choices are very, very limited.  Sometimes “urgent” and “important” converge in a place that must take priority.  But not all the time.  And certainly not every day.

So how do we achieve better priorities?  Judith Manriquez - an hour a day you first - Designed by Aberrant CrochetHow do we – in the face of  everything on our to-do lists – still fulfill the needs of our body and soul and live a life that’s more aligned with happiness and meaning?  And grasp our highest potential?

Judith Manriquez, an inspirational coach I know, put it best:

“An hour a day: you first.”

Even in the face of the worst, that’s it.  Simple really.  Because without nourishing yourself, how can you ever expect to thrive? Without saving yourself, just how much will you really achieve. How can you ever be there for others if your own needs aren’t met?  Just one hour out of your waking day – for once – set your priorities and feed your soul right.

What Do You Want Written On Your Gravestone - Live That - Bad Priorities Are Like Weeping Angels - Designed by Aberrant Crochet

“Fascinating race, the Weeping Angels. The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. No mess, no fuss, they just zap you into the past and let you live to death. The rest of your life used up and blown away in the blink of an eye. You die in the past, and in the present they consume the energy of all the days you might have had, all your stolen moments. They’re creatures of the abstract. They live off potential energy.” – Doctor Who

Bad priorities are like the psychopathic Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.

They devour everything you might have been and use up the energy of your potential.

.
Take at look at what you say you want to do in life, compared with what you actually do.

If those are not in alignment, then somewhere you’re lying to yourself and the world.  Your priorities are not what you think they are, or they are misplaced.

And worse yet – they’re stealing your life.

 


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9 Comments

Filed under NaBloPoMo

9 responses to “Your Priorities Are Killing You

  1. I couldn’t agree more!! Thank you for the necessary reminder!

  2. Mandy L

    I’m amazed that you chose to write about this, at this time. My sister, husband, and I all sat down this weekend for about an hour and assessed our lives. Without really realizing what I was doing (I was just trying to help my sister), I sort of took charge and led the three of us in an exercise.

    We each took a piece of paper and wrote at the top “Things I Want to Do:” with the idea being, these were goals or things we wanted to accomplish, but felt that we couldn’t. Under each item we listed, we also listed what we felt were the obstacles that prevented us from accomplishing these goals. Then we took turns going down each person’s lists and making suggestions about how these obstacles could be overcome. As an example, one of my list items was “I want to crochet more.” The obstacle I listed was “I don’t have enough time.”

    On a second sheet of paper, we wrote down our typical daily routine, with an estimate of how long we spent on each part of the routine. We circled the items that we were either unable or unwilling to alter (such as work hours, or the 30 minutes a day my husband and I spend sharing about our day when he gets home from work). When we cross-examined our “want to do” list with our daily routine list, we could cross out parts of our routine that we wanted to change in order to make time for the things we wanted to do. For example, I crossed off the 30-ish minutes I spend on email and facebook in the mornings, in order to fit in Bible study, one of my personal goals.

    Then, on the back of our “Things I Want to Do” sheet, we made a new list: “Things I’m GOING to Do.” We then re-listed the goals from our “want to do” list, and wrote down what steps and changes we were going to make in order to accomplish these goals and overcome the obstacles we’d listed on the back side. We’re also going to some budgeting, since some of the obstacles we listed were financial. But at least for now, we’ve made a plan of action to get our goals accomplished. 🙂 I’m going to share this with them also. Maybe it will help them feel motivated to stick with it!

    • That’s really awesome Mandy! I love how you tackled it, and together as a team too. Support is a big boost when you want to shift. Thanks for sharing what you’re doing and how, because I thnk that will be helpful to others. Sometimes we have trouble figuring out where to star.t I plan to share later an evaluation exercise that I’ve found super helpful too. It helps with ranking things when on the surface everything looks just as important as the thing next to it. Wait ’til you see. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

  3. Love this thread, probably told myself all of these things at one point or another, until I ran out of excuses and simply had to face the fear hidden behind the procrastination. The inertia of doing the same old same old was a well worn shoe. Tx for pulling no punches with the truth laid out here, Julia, and for the great template, Mandy!

  4. Thank you Julia! and great work!

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