This post is all about the importance of prioritizing, which might be a life lesson that is currently slapping me in the face.
I’ve had a busy week so prioritizing has been extremely important. I have to choose which activities, out of a list of what feels like thousands of things to do, are top priority and which activities will have to slide. This is challenging, since I’m a perfectionist and pride myself on doing everything–and doing it perfectly. But it’s finally sinking in that I have to choose the things that will help move me forward toward my current goals while still supporting my values.
One of those priorities is making time to spend with the people in my life that I love. I could be filling the time with other things, but I want to see my friends and family and let’s be honest, they are way more important to me than pretty much anything else, so I’m going to make the time.
My fitness has become another top priority. I’ve finally reached a point in life where I can look back and see years of being unsatisfied with my fitness. But I’ve never taken the time to make a change because I’ve never seen it as a worthy or important use of time. It’s finally clicking, though, that fitness is one of the most important pieces of my puzzle there is. Better fitness will improve my confidence and health, which will directly affect how I act when I meet others, which will have an affect on my success, and so on. Not to mention the strictly biological and also financial benefits of being healthy–less sickness and sick time. Fitness now has become a dedicated portion of each day and I work my schedule around my fitness.
Part of my sudden epiphany about priorities has come about since Luke is away on exercise. It started small–he left in a hurry, running out of time to do everything he wanted done, so unfortunately some of the housework slid. One of those things was laundry. I had a heap of laundry left and was dreading it and putting it off…until I realized “hey, I won’t be an asshole if I do a load of only my laundry and leave his until later.” He is away for a month, so there is lots of time later (famous last words? ha ha). In fact, I could leave his laundry for him to do when he got home and he wouldn’t complain, but I think it’s always nice to return to a tidy house after being away.
Anyway, that small laundry epiphany seems to have triggered a cascade of larger realizations that prioritization isn’t just about being efficient. It is actually an excellent gauge of your relationship with yourself, not to mention a metaphor for how important you are in your own life. Do you always put your needs second and everyone else comes first?
It will show in things like your daily chores, eating habits, tidying habits, where your money goes…every tiny little day-to-day action will give you a clue about where you fall in your own priorities. And from experience, if your needs aren’t pushed to the top of the list, then you are going to be unhappy.
Okay, okay, maybe that is a bold statement. I hate speaking for others, so I will speak for myself. I’ve realized that I have a terrible habit of putting my needs last–I even put the dog’s needs above mine sometimes–simply because I know I’ll be around forever and I’ll get to my stuff after everyone else’s problems are solved. Them first.
Thing is, if I keep going like this, I’ll die before I get to my stuff because there is always a ‘them’ and they always have urgent needs of some kind. I want to try ‘me first’ on for size for a little while.
I have definitely had ‘me first’ phases in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to understand and act out a self-serving philosophy in a balanced way that isn’t just selfish and hurtful to others. My goal is to be able to find a balance between addressing my needs first while also satisfying a reasonable amount of other priorities–ones that have to do with business, or other people’s expectations of me, etc. I can’t think of a concrete example right off the bat…actually, wait, I’ve got one.
I applied for a short contract employment position with an organization I really respect, but I applied before things started to pick up in my own business. They didn’t call for quite sometime but the other day asked if I’d come for an interview.
Now I am faced with the possibility that, if I get offered the position, I will be taking a 6-month hiatus from my own business in order to make some great industry contacts and get some great experience…on very meagre intern pay. If this were a year ago, I’d be bending over backwards to get this job. I’m even struggling with the decision now, because any steady paycheck, no matter how meagre, is really appealing. However, I feel that this is a choice between an outside priority and me again.
If I really simplify it, taking any full-time position is choosing money over my dream of my own business.
And while the organization sounds great and there would be a lot of fringe benefits, the pay is really not enough to make it worth giving up my dreams of being a business person for the next 6 months. It would be a totally different story if the job came with a salary double what is being offered, but my sell-out price is a little higher than what they have funding to offer.
I even feel bad thinking of them as the ‘negative’ option, because there is nothing wrong with them. They aren’t purposely offering crap, it’s just what they are funded for. The people seem very nice and encouraging and I know it would be a great experience and I would learn a lot.
But is being an employee and running by someone else’s rules worth intern pay and fringe benefits and contacts when I could put that same 40 hours per week (or more, knowing me) into my own business and really see it grow into something that means more to me and brings me success? Is it worth it to put my need for a stable paycheck ahead of my dreams and ability to achieve my dreams? Just because it’s a job I would have died for last spring doesn’t mean I need to jump for it this spring. I’ve moved forward.
And really, it comes to fear versus belief. What’s stronger, my fear of poverty or my belief in myself?
When I can look at things that way, the decision is easy. Me first. The priority here is my dreams. Bills can wait, as scary (and not entirely accurate) as that is to say. Following your dreams sounds fluffy and awesome and filled with joy, but let me tell you, it’s scary as hell and you have to make a lot of really hard decisions that others might think are crazy. Like unapplying for a good job that would have really bumped up your reputation.
Maybe it’s time to say: “Me first. There will be time to doubt my choices later.”
Today, I’m #1 and I’ll do things my way. Plus, I really do believe that by October I will have enough clients to support myself without being anyone’s employee. I’m following my dream here, and the universe seems to blossom with opportunity when you move onto the road to your dreams.