It’s often said that saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to something else. In working with a lot of dedicated professionals and parents, myself included, this has become very clearly true. So many people are overworked, stressed out, busy from morning until night, and feel they don’t have any time to take care of themselves. Whether or not we realize it, this over-scheduled circus is a choice.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I understand chronic illness, true poverty, and caring for loved ones are some examples of huge responsibilities that require a lot of time. That’s not what I’m talking about when I say “choice." I’m talking about all the other stuff we deem worthy of huge amounts of time and energy that maybe doesn't deserve that kind of attention. If we say “yes” to stuffing our schedule full of extras, we're also choosing to say “No” to relaxing, self-reflection, exercise, and dedicating time for our own well being.
Life is not a clown car- it cannot be overstuffed and then expected to yield unlimited amounts of joy.
The first step is realizing that a lot of things are a choice. Some things are simply a matter of being more efficient, and some are a matter of deciding to eliminate something all together.
Here is a four step process for determining how to prioritize your life:
1. List three main priorities in life.
2. Write out how many hours you spend each day working, driving, cleaning, caring for others, checking social media, sleeping, exercising, etc...
3. Decide if your actions (listed in #2) support your priorities (#1).
4. Adjust accordingly.
Some people may decide they don't want to change anything, they'd rather keep juggling a busy life than let go of anything. That's a fine choice- as long as it's recognized as such. Meanwhile, those who decide to prioritize self care usually find they really don't miss the things they were juggling. They're too busy enjoying their new life as the Ringmaster.