Priorities

Who doesn't like perky ears in the morning?

I have been struggling lately with priorities. The obvious definition of your priorities is what you do. After all, why would you do whatever it is if it’s not important for some reason? My struggle has been that my intellectual and emotional priorities haven’t been borne out by my action priorities. Coming home and eating dinner in front of a movie doesn’t get gardening books read or walks taken. It doesn’t get stories written and I can rarely even claim I’m watching them as research for any of my various projects. I’m getting better about working on my beading project or redesigning my garden spaces while I’m watching, but even with that, I can’t pretend that I’m actually putting my time to good use.

I’m not alone in this, though. After all, look around. What are the priorities, or actions, of so many other people? Eating dinner in front of the TV is hardly exclusive to me. Nor is eating easy, convenient, frequently microwaved foods. When many people go home after work, the first thing on their to-do list is rarely to work on their novel or go out in the wood-shed to see if the coat of varnish on their hand-built table is dry yet. Their priority, my priority, is to be entertained. We consume, we are entertained, we are passive. We don’t create, we don’t entertain, we don’t do. Believe me, my finger is pointed at myself on this one. I am just mentioning that I might not be the only person who should be doing that.

My intellectual and emotional priorities are more and more strongly telling me that I really need to be doing. Learning, creating, moving- it doesn’t matter what, really, as long as it’s doing. I’m happier that way, and more productive. The struggle is, how do I get the intellectual and emotional priorities to become action priorities? Like so many people, I have a day job. It’s easier than some, it’s harder than others, but it eats up 40 hours of my week and more than its fair share of brain cells. By the end of the day I’m tired. Like most people. I don’t have a permanent answer for this question, but I hope I will soon.

In an effort to find that answer, I have been expanding my blog-reading. Today, I stumbled across A Brief Guide to World Domination. It is written with a sense of humor, but it is also something that I intend to go back and read again. Several times. There was one part, though, that is currently sticking in my head. It’s the Ideal World exercise.

The short summary is that you think through your idealized, perfect day in great detail, beginning from what time you get up and what you have for breakfast all the way through what you do for each hour of the day and who you talk to. Then you begin to make plans to adjust your life to get closer to the perfect day you’ve designed for yourself.

As I was reading the summary about what you do when you get out of bed in the morning, a picture flashed though my mind. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t make it up, so I have to believe that it has at least a fair amount of truth to it. I saw myself rolling out of bed and into jeans so I could shuffle out and feed the chickens. (The mental picture was later amended to include feeding the horses. There will be horses.) Some people would probably see themselves rolling out of a bed with silk sheets in a mansion, or dressing in Armani, or even opening up their e-mail from a kid who could finally go to college. Me, I want chickens.

One of the other exercises is to immediately write down three things you can do now to work toward your goals. 1- Write to you. After all, part of being independent is to have your priorities in order. Maybe someone else can benefit from the musings in this post. 2- Dinner will be eaten with a gardening book instead of a movie. 3- Dinner will also be well-made and delicious. Intellectual priorities realized as action priorities.

What are your priorities? How well do your actions match what you want them to be? How do you go about getting them closer together?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Great things to think about. Writing lists and letters to yourself are a really good way to make and keep goals. It’s how I was able to let go of a lot of past things there were haunting me for years.

    This is definitely something I should think about too, but I’m such a scatter-brain, I can think of 3 different life scenarios that I’d like (none of them as grandiose as a mansion, but the most far-fetched involve moving to the West coast).

    Reply

    • One person helped! Mission accomplished! 🙂 In this apartment, I’ve started taping things to my walls. I don’t have a lot of art, but I’m getting a fair number of pieces of construction paper with various goals/notes/ideas. I don’t look at them every day, but just seeing them out of the corner of my eye reminds me that they’re there.

      I hear you about being scatter-brained. I think I’m lucky that my main goal in life has always been pretty much the same. The details change. First it was just a farm, then a ranch, now a homestead- but the underlying goal of land and animals hasn’t changed. Now as far as organizing my thoughts to get from here to there- that’s a bit more of a challenge . . .

      Reply

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