What Are Your Top Priorities?

20150820-IMG_0669Feeling reflective today. I was out for a walk and saw some kids playing at the local preschool, and it made me think about TRC back when he was in preschool, and MC gearing up to go next year, and then all the way back to my own days in preschool. (Amazing how one little glance can start such a chain of thoughts going off in your head.) And where did that chain ultimately lead me? Thinking about how as rote as my life might seem right now, I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job of living it according to my main priorities, and how those priorities tend to change over time.

So with all that as context, I thought i might take a minute to think about what my main priorities are right now, and rank them. It’s helpful to me to get those down on paper and then think objectively about them. From there, it’s easier to decide if what you’re doing in life is contributing to those main priorities or not. So here we go:

  1. Denisa. My spouse’s happiness and well being comes first. Before the kids. Before myself. Why? Because I feel like that’s the best way to have a successful marriage, which in turn leads to everything else in my life working smoothly. If the kids come first, then it’s possible for the main connection between spouses to break apart, and that’s not something I want to risk. It’s much easier for me to help my kids when Denisa and I are in a good spot. It also helps that I think Denisa and I are on the same page with raising the kids. Together, that’s our main priority. So it all works nicely.
  2. The kids. They come before my own personal wants at the moment. What does that mean? It means that I do my best to provide them a safe, secure environment where they can feel loved and accepted. Where they can have the best chance of growing up healthy, happy, and secure. I don’t protect them from all troubles, and I don’t do whatever they want me to. That doesn’t contribute to the goal. Rather, I make decisions based on what I think is best for them long term. So for TRC, that means he’s not getting a cell phone anytime soon, despite repeated requests. For DC, it means nagging her to read sometimes when she’d rather be watching My Little Ponies. It means being a good parent.
  3. Myself. I suppose it might seem paradoxical, but this is the spot where I really think I have the best chance of being happy. Put it this way: if my wife and kids were both miserable, no amount of “me time” would be able to overcome that. Period. That said, I will gladly put myself ahead of everything else. Work? You betcha. This means that I will take time for myself to make sure I’m in a good spot, mentally and physically. I take time to have fun: watch movies, read books, play games. That sort of thing. Without that, I’m not worth much when it comes to being able to focus and give other endeavors my all.
  4. Work. A Bryce gotta eat, ya know? Getting a paycheck is a necessary part of life, and having a steady one is about as important as it gets.
  5. Friends. I love you all, but if I have to choose between getting paid and hanging out with friends, I think we all know what that choice has to be. Sad, but true.
  6. Writing. i would love to get to the point where this can move up in the rankings by one slot, but until I’m making a boatload of money doing it, it can’t. (That whole “getting a steady paycheck” thing.) Still, if I don’t make time for writing every day, then it doesn’t happen. If it doesn’t happen, I get sad.
  7. Exercise. Sort of a side note to #3, but I try to make time for exercise each day other than Sunday. It helps me stay healthy, which helps everything else happen.

A few more notes:

  • Most of my priorities support the ones above and below them. If I take time for myself, it’s easier for me to work hard and to be a good father and husband. That sort of thing. Yay for synergy.
  • These are the main priorities. There may be things that come up from time to time that have to be fit in somewhere. Extended family, other obligations, etc. But this is the day to day sort of stuff that rules my life.
  • Compromise comes into play too. There are times that I’ll let a lower priority “beat out” a higher one, but it’s got to have a good reason for it.
  • What about religion? I thought about where to rank religion on here, and it didn’t feel quite the same to me as the others. My religion is the filter through which everything else is viewed. It impacts me on how I choose to make priorities, how I choose to live my life, how I treat others. Sometimes people talk about what they’d sacrifice for their religion. How they’d be willing to give up their family or their career to make sure they stayed square with God. I tend to think that sets up a false dichotomy. My religion is a fundamental part of who I am as a person. I might as well choose to give up logic. In other words, if a choice were to come up that required me to pick between a priority and living my religion, my religion itself would inform how I made that decision. It’s a messy relationship, and hard to describe. Sorry I can’t get it into words better.

Anyway. There you have it. In a perfect world, no conflicts ever arise between what I’m asked to do, what I’d like to do, and what I should do, but we don’t live in that world. When I choose how to spend my time, I look at this list and try to dole it out accordingly. I imagine everyone else has the same list in the same order, but I realize that’s not true. We all see things a bit differently, even though it can be hard to comprehend that sometimes.

And that’s the end of my deep thinking for today.

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