Everyone has different priorities and those shift constantly with the tides of life. The best priorities include putting God first, whether formally or informally. If we’re not churchgoers, there’s still a lot we can do in our circles of life to show kindness and helpfulness to others — in the extended family, among friends and neighbors, or in the workplace.
For many, priorities revolve around the kids and teenagers, grandkids, nephews and nieces who are the love of their lives. This is true in spite of spats, sibling rivalry and rebelliousness.
I do sometimes wonder if tweens and teens especially would come to a screeching halt if they saw mom and dad thoughtlessly rebelling and throwing humiliating tantrums the way some errant youth do. Youth are capable of so much more that will also pay the rent for the space they occupy on earth. Even though the world doesn’t owe any of us anything, youth are the world’s future! That destiny will take plenty of time and effort and education on their part, even when some professors appear to be total idiots with their own agendas. We learn what we need to from them and toss the rest aside.
For other people, priorities revolve around the J.O.B. because without a job, it’s nearly impossible to make anything else happen. Our employer makes it likely we can put food on the table and do our best to keep a halfway decent roof over our heads. So we owe him or her allegiance and an honest day’s work. We owe them big-time, in fact, above and beyond what we’d “rather be” doing. Even volunteer work cannot too often preempt our obligations to our employers, not even if both are in our top priorities every day.
Once we learn all we can from the current job, then we put ourselves out there and try for something better. Maybe. It depends how stressful the politics have become where we are. In a dicey economy, it may be better to stay put for a few more years.
Somewhere in all this, other priorities holler for attention, whether it’s for PTA, church work, a local animal charity or a food pantry. Someone will always benefit from and appreciate our time and help. And the fun part is that every volunteer situation has its own political minefield to step through. In fact, volunteer work in all its forms can have politics as tangled as any at the office or wherever else we work for a living. Sometimes we just have to walk away for a while and give ourselves a break.
Here’s where the trained medical folks look down their noses at “pop psychology” when in actual fact, it’s common sense. Giving yourself a break should really be an everyday occurrence. The spouse needs attention as much as the kids do but it’s a challenge to make that happen. Husband or wife also relish intelligent conversation if the day has been spent on nursery rhymes. But most of all our spouses need time to breathe and recharge batteries, and so do we.
If we are not in our own top three priorities every day, we’re not going to achieve whatever long term goals we set a while back. That is, we won’t make it up the incline to the top three priorities of our lives, the ones that stayed when life was shaken down and the chaff blown away.
Planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro before its snow cap melts while scientists continue to disagree about whether it’s melting or not? Start with the smaller steps, like walking every day while wearing a backpack.
- Planning to play Vaya con Dios, Spanish Eyes, The Maori Farewell, and other songs? Somehow squirrel away time and money for music lessons, starting today.
- Have an idea for a series of mystery novels? Write something every day, even if it has little or nothing to do with that idea. Not all of our brain cells are in our heads. Muscle memory is as important as what we call the mind. Our hands need to know what to write and how.
Above all, make sure you are in your top three priorities every day.