There have been several conversations and circumstances lately where the idea of making something a priority has been kind of a theme. This is more about what I’ve observed than others awareness of it. That’s probably because my calendar is filled with recurring appointments I make to ensure that it’s not taken over by anything other than what I know to be a priority.
It started when I was at my yearly check-up. My doctor and I share a love for running – probably working out as a whole. As part of the routine, my doctor asks several questions; how much alcohol if any do you drink per week, how often do you exercise. It appeared that I didn’t hesitate or answer at length as he commented on, “You’re one of my only patients that answers very straight forwardly.” I asked him what he meant by that. “Most patients give me a lengthy response of, well, I try and get to the gym 3 times a week, and I’m trying to walk outdoors, but then I can’t, so I’d say maybe I exercise 3, no, um, maybe 2 but it could be 4 times a week, it all depends.” Ah yes, I see what he meant.
That same week I was scheduled to go over to a friend’s house as we made a commitment that every Tuesday we’d do a weight workout. It took a while to land on a time that could work for both of us, but we did it. I was excited about this as it’s fun to workout with a buddy. Ironically as I’m on my spin bike I get a call, “I’m ok working out tomorrow, but I won’t be able to the next couple of weeks because I have family coming in from out of town and people working on my house. Plus, when it’s not a sunny day and we can’t use the deck as an extension of the workout area it feels too cramped for 2 people. This is why I mentioned that I need flexibility. I need a floating time schedule to workout. Also, it’s better for me to go to the gym rather than exercise at home. I only use my home gym if I can’t go out.”
Granted, before we settled on home workouts, we did initially discuss my joining her gym and yet apart from it not being worth it for me during the summer months, our schedules are very different. I’m ready to workout at 6am and 11am is preferred by my friend. It wasn’t meant to be.
And then …
On another note, with a different person, we had a conversation where we were exploring a potential collaboration. This was our second call. The first was strange enough, and yet I felt I’d give it another try to see if perhaps it was me being, well, impatient. Nope. The second call was the same as the first. I listened, and then, “Ok, bye, I’ll send you a link.” Huh? Interestingly, I bounced on a call prior to ours where the same person was ending the conversation the exact same way, “Ok, bye.” Nothing. No next steps. It appeared that just being heard WAS the call. And in knowing this, I didn’t want to pursue this any further as it appeared to be an exercise in spinning one’s wheels and I didn’t want to go along for the ride and continue to hear how frustrating it was to move anything forward – gee, I get why.
And so …
Every morning I get the ‘Daily Stoic.” It’s an email from author Ryan Holiday. Today’s message was rather timely and worth noting; “Nothing illustrates how little control we actively assert over our lives than our relationship with reading. Oh, I wish I had time to read more. Oh, I’ll squeeze in a few minutes of reading before bed. Oh, when the kids are older, I’ll get back into the habit. Oh, my secret is audiobooks on 2x speed.
Two thousand years ago, Seneca talked about how people mistakenly prioritize a million trivial responsibilities and then give the leftovers to philosophy and reflection. That’s how we treat books too. We act as if everything else is more important, and only when we’re alone or have some unexpected quiet time or have literally nothing else to do, do we finally sit down to read.
It’s preposterously out of balance.” He goes on to say more and yet you get the gist.
You can see that the common denominator in these examples from the conversations that I had and read are – the lack of prioritizing or more optimistically, the need to prioritize.
When you schedule something that’s important to you, or even when it’s something you really don’t want to be doing, like exercise and yet you know it’s going to be good for you, lock it in. Yes, I mean lock it in.
For me, the reality is, once I put something in my calendar that’s a recurring ‘must do,’ I rarely IF ever need to change it.
Colleague: “Amy, can you make a 6am meeting to review XYX?”
Me: “Sorry, I can’t swing it, do any of these other times work for you?”
Colleague: “As a matter of fact they do!”
Bingo. That’s how easy it is.
Consider this – I’m doing everyone a favour by taking care of my priorities, and you will too. For me, I’m absolutely a much happier, emotionally resilient, attentive, productive, creative, and responsive human being when I’m able to ensure that my needs are being met. Ultimately, those I engage with know that it benefits them too!
I encourage you to consider looking at your calendar or whatever you use to block off your day – and prioritize things that make a difference in your life.
If you think you don’t have time to do this – just go onto your smartphone to see your stats as to how much time you spend on social media and you’ll quickly realize that you can swing the time to set priorities in your life.
Trust me, you’ll be a much happier (and healthier – if you decide to schedule exercise – any kind) human if you do.
Send me a note in the comment section as I’d love to hear if this helped you in any way.