I’d like you to grab a piece of paper and write down your answers to a few questions I’m about to ask. It’ll be important in a minute, you’ll see. So I’ll wait…
What is important to you? Don’t read any further, please, until you’ve written your answer. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or involved, just a quick point form list will do.
This little exercise can be quite a profound experience if you do it, so please do yourself a favour and take a few moments with this.
Okay. Next question. Who is important to you? Another quick point form list, please.
Now, a separate list. Please jot down what has eaten up your week. Make a few notes about how you spent your time over the past seven days. What were you doing each day?
One more thing: What were you thinking about during the week? What was on your mind?
I really hope you wrote those answers down because there’s something about seeing them in writing that works better than just leaving it all in your head.
Now, please take a look at your list of what you did and what you thought about for the past week. Most people have a whole lot of stuff on their lists that is about work – whether it’s about their jobs or the housework, the errands, the obligations, the responsibilities, the meetings, the children’s homework and music lessons and the groceries and the meals blah blah blah.
Okay, let’s take a look at your list of what is important to you. Chances are, some of what you were doing will be things that are on that list, as they should be. But are there other things on the list of what’s important that aren’t getting your attention? And if so, why not?
Look at the list of who is important to you. Did those people make it onto your list of how you spent your time and what you were thinking about?
If there is something out of alignment about all of this, perhaps you could stand a shift in your priorities. If you say it’s important to play and enjoy your life more, then do it. If you say your children, your parents, your sister, or your friends are important to you, then make sure they know it. Write. Phone. Email. Send a card.
Or perhaps you could plan a gathering of some sort. It doesn’t have to be big and fancy or take a lot of time, effort or money. Maybe a potluck evening, or an afternoon walk together. How about going to an art gallery or just having a few people in for muffins and coffee some morning?
The point is that it’s not about what you do with them that matters. What is important is to make sure you let those people know you’re glad they’re a part of your life. It’s essential to reach out and tell them you’re interested in what’s happening for them, and to be sure they know you’re there for them if they need a shoulder, an ear, or just some company now and then.
And don’t forget: You should really be on that list of who is important to you. If you’re not, then put yourself right at the top and make sure you spend time doing something for yourself every day, even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes. Get on with that hobby you love or always wanted to try. Read, go for a walk, or soak in a delicious hot bath.
You see, if you don’t “restock your own fridge,” you’ll have nothing left to give to all of those people, activities and responsibilities that fill up your life. Running on fumes will only cause you certain misery, perhaps in anxiety, depression, or a variety of health ailments. If you don’t see yourself as the most important person in your life, you will burn yourself out so that you’re no good to anyone. I would assume you know this, so if you’re not living it, I would invite you to consider making a significant change there.
We give our attention to what is important to us. Sometimes we know what should be important, and we can say all the right stuff on that subject, but really, in our heart of hearts, our priorities are a mess.
It’s another case of actions speaking louder than words. If you say something or someone is important to you, then show it. Prove it. Live it. No more excuses.