Priorities


For several years, I’ve refused to make resolutions. Instead I prefer challenges and experiments. This year, I’m trying something a little different, and make a list of my priorities for the year. Between being a full-time web editor, a full-time mom, and a part-time student, I have more than enough on my plate already. I also have a habit of biting off more than I can chew — one of the reasons I don’t do resolutions. I make too big, or too many resolutions, get overwhelmed or discouraged and drop all of them. And yet, with all of this already on my plate and in my nature, I still want more. The last few years though have taught me that it’s okay, and even important to be willing to honor when I Just Can’t Do It All, lower my expectations, and change my priorities when needed though. In fact, being able to do these three things has been a vital part of my self-care.

I Can’t Do It All

As someone who has been burning the candle at both ends for most of my life, I have a habit of not paying attention to my own energy and burning myself out. I’ve let go of priorities in the past, but I’ve always felt guilty about it. Like I should be able to Do It All. Even when I try to be gentle with myself, there’s often still been that sense of guilt. The past few years have been a particular struggle though, and I’ve burnt myself out emotionally and physically from pushing myself too hard. The process has also taught me to really be able to let go guilt-free.

In addition to taking on too many projects and trying to do too much, I tend to make my goals so high that if I fall short, I get discouraged and start to feel like a failure. It sounds like a bad SNL joke, a little snide, or even a cop-out, but it’s not. It’s about setting smaller, more attainable goals. Small wins can snowball, creating the momentum to reach bigger goals. Small goals can also be translated as small steps to move you closer to your bigger goals. Small goals also mean that on days when your plate is too full and your energy is too low, you are more likely to be able to reach them. And that if you do fall off the wagon, it won’t be such a big leap to try to get back on again.

Finally, learning to shift priorities has given me the flexibility to make it easier to say “This isn’t a high priority right now, so I can let it slip and just return to it later.” I’ve been pretty inflexible in my thinking though. Again, that idea that I’m a failure if I Can’t Do It All. Well guess what, I CAN’T do it all. Maybe I do expect too much of myself. In the past I haven’t even been able to honestly prioritize things. I’d make a list of anywhere from three to seven things, and be completely unable to think of any of those priorities as anything less than Number One With a Bullet.

So this year, I’m making a list. I’m actually going to prioritize what is most important to me. And any time I start to feel like I’m not “measuring up” I’ll re-examine the list, shift my priorities if needed, and be willing to be as many of them as necessary on hold until I have the mental, emotional, and physical energy to re-examine and re-adjust the list again.

My List

Work towards becoming debt-free
Take better care of my self
Build stronger, happier relationships
Keep noticing the good things
Find moments of peace
Engage in creativity

What are your priorities or resolutions or goals for 2017?

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