Most of us have at some time or another heard that if we really want to do something we will. We may even say it to ourselves. This is usually in reference to everyday things, not that expensive trip to a far off place or buying the fancy car. It is more likely to be about a household chore or getting together with a friend. There is some guilt attached. “If you really wanted to spend more time with me you would.” “If I really wanted to fix the broken fence I would.”
One day this was said to me and it just did not feel right, so I thought about it and realized that I prioritize my activities. Interestingly, it changed my whole thought process. First, it took away that little voice of guilt whispering in my ear. It sent me into an entirely different place. It was no longer an either or thing. Either I want to do this or I don’t. Priority tells me the order of my commitments. Simply put, it isn’t that I don’t want to do something. It is a matter of it being down the line a bit.
I am perfectly content with having relaxation as my top priority after working all day. In the evening washing dishes has a low priority and relaxation is at the top of the list. In the morning I like to get the dishes out of the way before I leave. If I were a person that couldn’t stand to see dishes in the sink it would be different, but I’m not, especially when I am in the living room with my feet up and a good book.
Counselors often rephrase concepts in order to make them workable. The teenager may be seen, not as stubborn, but rather as determined. The person who is always late may be considered easy going and casual. This switches what might be considered a negative trait to a more positive one making it easier for the individual involved to be engaged in understanding and possibly changing. This is what happened when I started reflecting on the order of my commitments. I no longer felt a need to defend my choice. I became aware of how what I consider most important shifts from one moment to another. When the phone rings, I may or may not answer it depending on what I am doing or if I am expecting a high priority call. Spontaneous opportunities may shoot to the top of the list and that is just fine. Getting to work on time is usually high on the list but can quickly be replaced by illness, a flat tire, or winning the lottery…yeah sure. Thinking about the role of priorities helps me consciously consider and decide how my responsibilities and interests stack up right now.
What are your top priorities for today? Did you include relaxation or something fun and energizing?