What matters most to you?
I recently heard a commercial for an insurance company with the tag line, “Protect what Matters.” Of course they were trying to sell home insurance, but it occurs to me that the message is true in a much broader sense.
Tasks and activities have a way of taking over our lives. Busyness prevails. We are all pulled in a thousand directions from our jobs, families, friends, and community. It is very easy to fall into the trap of being hyper- busy.
For years I wore my busyness as a badge of honor. I worked very long days and was involved in many projects and activities. I really did have a schedule that was filled to the brim from 6:00 A.M. to midnight. I was a high achiever and proud of it. It feels good to be in demand, which in turn builds self-esteem.
I was like a spider, pulled into a web of my own making. When I was so busy, I often lost track of what was most important. It is difficult to prioritize when there are a thousand things coming at you from all directions. The default is to get sucked in and try to do everything.
It is exhausting.
Not only is it exhausting, but when we react to the demands of the world rather than make conscious decisions, we will often make the wrong choice.
When I stepped back, I realized, that prioritizing is a lot easier when you keep one thing in mind.
Protect what matters.
A good place to start is to look at your day.
What is the most important part of your day? Do you thrive with time for exercise and personal fitness? Do you most look forward to dinner with your spouse? Perhaps you relish a quiet walk with your dog . One young mom recently told me that the best ten minutes of her day was the time she snuggled with her children before bed.
Find a way to protect what matters. Double the time you spend on things that matter most, even at the expense of something else. If you have a choice between finishing the dishes and spending an extra ten minutes snuggling with the kids, choose the snuggling.
I have learned to protect my early morning time. I love the quiet. I sit with my cup of coffee, a book, and my planner. I plan my life and my day. I take the time to think about where I am going and what I want to accomplish. I keep my values and my priorities front and center.
What at first seemed like an unproductive indulgence has become my most productive time. My quiet hour keeps me grounded in what is important. Spending time in this way helps me to easily choose which things I will be a part of, and which things I will say no to. Prioritizing is easier when you keep the big picture in mind. Spending a quiet hour in the morning has saved me thousands of hours of doing the wrong things.
When I am careful about choosing to do what matters, I am much happier. I suddenly have time to have lunch with a friend, because it is important to me. I have learned to turn down work that isn’t in my wheelhouse, which has opened up projects that I enjoy doing and that better use my skills. My husband and I have traveled a lot this year and we enjoy planning our next trips. My life has improved by choosing quality over quantity.
For me, life is no longer about being busy. It is about being busy protecting what matters most.
What about you? Have you figured out ways to protect what matters most? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.