I’ve noticed a trend among the adults I know. Most people seem to spend much time doing something that they neither care about nor enjoy.
Furthermore, many tell me, “I would do more of X if I only had the chance.”
What’s ironic about that? X usually stands for something involving a contribution to the world, or a life-enriching experience. So, qualitative as my data might be, many people give up on contributing to the world or enriching their lives because they feel that they just can’t.
(Related: 5 Minimalist Secrets to Saving Money)
So, what’s the deal? Is it that our current rhythm of life doesn’t allow us to do these things? Is no one chasing their dreams?
I understand that we have limits, and I’d be the last to say that an epicurean approach to life is the right one. But I think more of us need to consider whether our priorities are reflected through our everyday living. Do we really want to travel? Do we really want to spend more time with our loved ones? Do we really want to be healthier?
I’ve often found myself complaining that I “just can’t” do something. And maybe I’m right sometimes. But I’ve also realized that I can make space for my priorities. I can be intentional about choosing what way my life is going to go.
You either run your life, or your life runs you.
Friend, you and I have much more freedom than we allow ourselves to believe. Let’s start prioritizing what we love, one step at a time.
10 Simple Ways to Prioritize What You Love
1) Make a list of your priorities. Limit yourself to 5.
Have you ever written down a list of what matters to you MOST in the world? I did this once, and was amazed at how little someone would be able to tell, if they looked at my life from the outside. Make this list, and put it somewhere you’ll see it everyday.
2) Reconsider what’s an option and what’s an obligation.
We talk ourselves into thinking we’re over-obliged and in-demand. It’s self-flattery, really. The true issue among us relatively well-to-do individuals? We’ve confused our options with our obligations, and we forget to ask ourselves why we continue to oblige ourselves. Explore that why, and then cut out those things that don’t have good reasons to go with them.
3) Remind yourself not to buy things you don’t need.
Is money ever not tight? I know very few people who can genuinely say, “I’m content with my current income. I could live with this.” But, we forget to ask the more important question: “Are all my needs met?” Most likely, the answer is yes– so we can save on those things we don’t need. Related: 7 Reasons We Buy Things We Don’t Need
4) Ask for help from someone who cares.
There’s nothing quite as difficult as breaking a habit (or starting a new one) by yourself. So tell someone that you want to start prioritizing x, what that means literally, and how often they should check in with you about it. Return the favor.
5) Decline the temptation to be perfect in every way.
It took me years to understand this: I’m not perfect, I am enough. When we’re committed to perfection, we find ourselves lost in a sea of shoulds and shouldn’ts. Those notions lead our lives, often in the place of our true priorities. Related: Why Perfectionism Might Be Stealing Your Joy
6) Build new habits into your schedule. Use an alarm clock if necessary.
Is there something you can do about your priorities everyday? Find those empty moments in your schedule and be intentional about it. Even if it means you get to read with a cup of tea for 15 minutes per day, that’s doing something! Setting an alarm clock may sound silly, but it works. When that alarm rings, drop what you’re doing and commit.
7) Evaluate your activities: which ones are the most life-giving?
It’s true that we sometimes have to do things we don’t enjoy as an investment in our future. But how many of our activities give us life? Which ones make us feel inspired, courageous, and selfless? Let’s do more of those things, and less of the things that make us feel inadequate, tired, and self-involved.
8) Take care of yourself enough to be fully present at all times.
Sure, mental and physical health might not be high on everyone’s list, but let’s face it: without those things, we won’t be successful in many other ways. Jim Elliot famously said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” We can’t be all there if we’re constantly falling apart.
9) De-clutter and de-own.
As I try living simply– for good– I’ve learned something. Getting rid of stuff is not the same as deciding to live with less. Getting rid of old things could easily be an excuse to buy new things, which simply perpetuates the cycle. Instead, I suggest reconsidering how much stuff we want to live with on a long-term basis. Choose a point of contentment and stick with it.
10) Invest in what you love: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Sometimes you and I just need to take the plunge. Dive in– with reason– by investing our time and resources in that thing we love and cherish. Let’s be generous and fearless about it; if we do love it so much, we can’t go wrong. And as we move forward in that love, it will start to define us and shape us. All the better, right?
The bottom line
Your life will not align with your priorities overnight; nor will it happen without much effort from you. We must allow ourselves to live with more integrity. Let’s stop complaining that we don’t have time or money for what we love most. The truth is that we do, and what we can’t afford is to neglect those things forever.