"What are are your priorities?"
It's not a long question. It doesn't look complicated written on a piece of paper. It doesn't even really feel complicated until you start thinking about it...
That's when you might start feeling your heart rate increase, your airways constrict and the dizziness of hyperventilation start to set in.
Just because it LOOKS little doesn't mean it doesn't FEEL really fucking big.
It can feel scary not knowing your own priorities. There have been more than a few times in my life that I've felt the hot burning of confusion-tears (only one of the many kinds of tear-category I have #icryalot) welling up in my li'l eyeballs as they dart around my immediate surroundings, DESPERATELY LOOKING FOR ANSWERS TO LIFE.
Spoiler alert: the answers are never in my immediate surroundings.
A better place to look for them, though, is in my recent actions.
So if you're looking to answer the question "what are your priorities?" a better start might be "how you livin'?"
I called my husband one day and broke the news: I hadn't saved my portion of the pre-agreed monthly savings amount. again.
That meant moving to a new apartment had to be pushed back. again.
That also meant I'd better have a good explanation for flaking on my part of our bargain as a unit. So, logically, my response to his question of "Ok, so where did you get off track?" was to start shame-crying (another commonly recurring tear-category) and say "I don't even know!"
Because as T. and I itemized my spending over the last month, I knew EXACTLY where my money was going. And it showed me exactly what I was prioritizing over the apartment-savings fund.
And while it wasn't drug-fueled benders or chartering yachts for my daily commute, (side note: how thrilling would the 405 be in a luxury sea vessel complete with big screen, continental breakfast and simulated ocean breezes?) it was still stuff that was "extra." It was money that I'd spent without thinking or having a goal in mind. Also, literally 93% of it was food-related...
Feeling the importance and the weight of my every-day choices in that moment was big. I realized how much my actions define what I'm devoting my one-and-only life to.
And while I LOVE FOOD, I love my husband and the life we're trying to foster EVEN MORE. (WOW, BABY, I deserve a cupcake for loving you THIS MUCH.)
Every tiny spending decision I made, whether it was chili-cheese fries or a fancy gourmet pizza (whatever the actual fuck that even is #whocaresaslongasitspizza,) affected my ultimate goal to save dollars for a move that we've been desperately wanting for, like, two years. It's my job to take responsibility for my actions and the effect they have on my life. These actions define what's important to me, and it always comes down to the choices I make in the moment.
So, my point is: taking a cold, hard look at your actions and everyday choices will show you exactly where your priorities lie.
Let's break this down into a simple three-step process (because I like simple things, and I like processes, and I like being clear.)
NUMBA WUN) Collect some data
Look at what you're doing over the course of a day, a week, a month - whatever. Just make sure the tracking has a clear start and end date. If you're wondering HOW to track said thing, you can keep a journal yourself, or look at records that get logged automatically.
For example, if you're wondering why your cholesterol levels aren't going down, keep a food journal to track what you're eating. If you're writing a book, keep a log of when and how much you're writing. I looked at my bank statement to see an itemized log of where my money was going. You could also use an app to log info, or just keep a running list somewhere.
NUMBA TOO) Determine what the data points to
What are the facts? What have you been eating? What are you spending on? How much have you written? Numbers don't lie. I had been saying that saving for a new apartment was a priority for me, but when I looked at the numbers, all the data pointed somewhere else.
An important thing about priorities to note here is that if you don't consciously set and follow them for yourself, THEY WILL STILL BE PUT IN PLACE. You just won't feel in control of them and they may not be related to what's actually important to you. But every single little step you take is a choice that you make, and it points to what you're giving the highest importance in your life. Why not do it on purpose?
NUMBA THREE) Do you need to make any adjustments?
Now is the the time for you to decide if your actions are supporting your priorities and the life you want to create for yourself. If they're not, don't beat yourself up. We all get off track sometimes, and the past is gone. The next step you take is an opportunity for you to course-correct and start giving time and attention to your real priorities.
You're also allowed to adjust your priorities. People change, circumstances change, EVERYTHING CHANGES. It's absolutely permissible for you to change with it.
Does the thing you thought was a priority at this time last year still feel like one? If it does, you know what to do. If it doesn't, you STILL know what to do. My point is that your actions are now, and will forever be, up to you to determine.
Every action supports SOME kind of priority - make sure they're the right ones for you.
Need help figuring out your priorities and how to best support them with the time, energy and resources you've got? I can help! Check out the different ways to work with me for more info.