Friday, November 30, 2018

Prioritizing Life

If you are like me, you find yourself saying that there is too much to do in too little time.  You get caught feeling overwhelmed and at times defeated by the amount of tasks on your to do list and scheduled appointments on your calendar.

It's a problem. 

I certainly have been struggling recently. And, it is nothing new; it is the same old refrain. The same old trap of. . . but then I got to thinking. . . trap of what? What is the problem?

I'm still thinking through this, but so far I have come up with a few ideas on what the real problem is. Because there will always be things to do. There will always be 24 hours in the day. There will always be urgent tasks and tight timelines, surprises that derail you and moments of accomplishment that make you think such a busy life is a good idea. . . or, at the very least, manageable.  And, BOOM I find myself getting caught in the same cycle.

So, what is the real problem? 

I have come to understand that prioritizing is key. All you have to do is figure out what is most important and do that! Haha! Easier said than done. There is no single recipe for a great life. Each individual must decide what is the most important. And, not just once, but repeatedly. Year after year, day after day, moment to moment.

My trap is the trap of mistaken thinking that I can sort it all out once and then be done. But, life isn't about figuring out one answer. It is the process of negotiating all of life's challenges, embracing the challenge (and even the suffering) as it arises. It is a constant exploration of valuing and re-valuing our ideas, our beliefs, our commitments, our habits, our everything!

So, rather than prioritizing something in your life. Perhaps the freedom is found in prioritizing the process of re-prioritizing. Perhaps the most noble thing we can do is to take time to "figure things out." Prayer, meditation, long walks, a movement class, they are all examples of opportunities to step out of the stream and listen deeply into our experience. Prioritizing life is prioritizing the experience of sorting through things intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually. This takes time.

The most important thing we can do, and the thing we must put before all else is the time and space to reassess, reflect, ruminate, seek guidance, listen for clarity. 

Prioritizing this process however can be difficult. The best long term is to routinize this process with regular, weekly experiences, practices or rituals. This allows space for us to continually and consistently revisit our priorities and values. But, in times of crisis, we give up our recuperative practices as luxuries. How do we communicate to ourselves (and to others) that we are prioritizing life by selecting recuperative activities?

Well. . . I am still working through that one. . . but for now I will say:

"I am prioritizing life."