There are so many things in life that are important, but not urgent…
Connecting with people you love – the college roommate you’ve been meaning to call for years, the sister you haven’t seen since Christmas or the BFF you love spending time with. Playing with your kids instead of setting them up in front of the television so you can catch up on e-mail. Saying thank you to someone who’s made a big difference in your life. Exploring passions and interests – writing that novel, starting a blog, studying Spanish, baking bread, painting, playing piano, learning yoga, finally going to Europe, knitting… Taking time off NOW because you love yourself and feel stressed and burnt out. (Okay that one’s urgent and important!)
For so many reasons what’s important, but not urgent, often sits at the bottom of our to-do list gathering dust bunnies. Often the things that we know would make us happy never even make it on the list at all. These items are set on low priority because there are no concrete deadlines for playing with the kids, visiting a friend, playing piano, being creative or feeding a passion that’s lying fallow.
Urgent, but not important stuff fills our lives, taking up our time and attention and crowding out what’s truly important to us. Our inboxes and mailboxes are filled with urgent, but not important items. There’s that nagging urge to pick up your cell phone to answer texts or find out why your facebook ping is ringing.
For example, recently I received a letter from Tufts University imprinted with a large pink URGENT sign. I wondered what could be so urgent? Sure the letter’s urgent and important if your daughter’s applied to Tufts and wants to know whether or not she’s been accepted, but neither of my children had applied to Tufts, and I’m not even an alum. Yet I wasted valuable time opening the letter only to receive the revelation: “The health choices you make right now will affect the quality of your life as you age.” (Duh.)
Priorities are important. They help us focus our energy so that even as we go with the flow we can steer our lives in directions that truly matter to us. In my own life creativity and having more fun are huge priorities, yet I often ignore my inner child because I have deadlines to meet, tweets to send and dinner to make. However, I’ve come to realize if you’re not having fun in your life, what’s the point. Having fun is rejuvenating and helps you feel vibrant, alive and creative. Unless I make and actually schedule time for fun and creativity they simply don’t happen.
Which is why I’m writing and completing the blog post you’re reading. Blogging is important to me and one way I express my creativity. I love to write and know my posts help others, which is tremendously rewarding. For a while I was writing every day and putting up a blog at least once a week. And then I got really, really busy and stopped. “Who’s going to notice if I don’t write?” I told myself. But I noticed and missed letting my creative juices flow.
What are your priorities? Are there things you’ve always wanted to learn, do or accomplish or skills you’d like to acquire? Would you like to live more from your heart and feel more satisfied and passionate about your life? Is feeling grounded, centered and living from a place of balance a high priority? How important is spiritual growth? What about taking time to love yourself and experience more joy, pleasure and fun? Are these items a low, medium or high priority to you?
If you want to grow and glow and have a life that’s fun and fulfilling I encourage you get your priorities straight. Here are five steps to help.
- Make a list
Take out a piece of paper and make a list of everything that’s important, but not urgent. Write down all the things you really want to do, but never make the time for…the things you want to do or learn, people you want to connect with and the places you want to visit… It can be general (I’d like to travel) or specific (I want to visit Paris.) Not sure? Ask yourself what makes my heart sing? Wait for the answer and add it to the list.
Choose one item from your list. Next write out the action steps you need to add this item to your life. Is there a course you can take or group you can join to make help you incorporate this high priority item into your life? Or do you need to just take out your calendar and MAKE time to write, do yoga, practice meditation, go on a date with your kids or spouse, take that long bike ride, bake a cake or…
- Just do it!
Commit to incorporating this item into your life. Book that trip you’ve always wanted to take.
- Get accountable
Tell a friend what you plan on doing and ask them to check up on you for accountability. Of click HERE and let me know. I promise to follow up with you to make sure you’ve achieved your goal.
- Just say no!
If it’s difficult to find the time to do what’s really important to you, start saying no to activities that aren’t important to you. Delegate responsibilities to others. Let go of the things you do on a daily basis that aren’t important. Use the grid to the left to analyze how you spend your time. Write down what you do for a few days, look over the list, put each item in the correct box (important/urgent, important/not urgent, not important/urgent and not important/not urgent and figure out what you can eliminate. Stop engaging in unimportant/not urgent, distracting time sucks (You know what they are!). Instead spend time doing the things that really matter to you and watch your wellbeing soar.
You’re in charge of your life. Yes, there are many things that are urgent and need your attention. Make time for them, but be sure to make more time for yourself so you can do more of the important, but not urgent things that make you truly happy.