Priorities. Life really boils down to priorities. Whether we know it or not, how we navigate through our day-to-day is in large part dictated by our priorities. Sure, you may say that a large part of your life is dictated by responsibilities, but for the most part, responsibilities arise out of a choice you make about what your priorities are. There are some fundamental needs – Maslow outlines how, before we can begin to focus on fulfilling higher-level needs such as those of self-actualization and love/belonging, we first need to be able to meet our more fundamental needs, like those of food and shelter. Makes sense – I doubt I’m going to be too concerned about meeting the love of my life and pursuing the quest for Enlightenment if I have nowhere to sleep and my stomach goes hungry more often than not. Yes, we do have basic needs that have to be met for survival, but how we go about meeting those needs, and how we define those needs as being met, is a matter of priority. Is a “good enough” shelter a small apartment that you share with two other people, or is it a three-tier home? Is having “enough” to “get by” literally having a roof over your head and food in your belly or is “getting by” a nice apartment, a car, and two vacays a year, plus fine dining twice a week?
As I sat at my computer last night, punching my way through a proposal and developing a timeline for the next 2.5 years of my school-work life, I couldn’t help but reflect on my priorities. I have been burning the midnight oil more nights than not these past two months. It’s been beautiful in its own right – I feel like I’m starting to come into my own as a “professional”/researcher, I’ve been given more and more responsibility, and I‘m regaining the drive and focus that I have been asking Universe to re-connect with. But it has also been draining. I have been trying to make the conscious decision of capping myself at 10-12 hour work days, and having 1.5 weekend days of no work, but that still feels long and I’m not always successful at keeping this intention. In trying to navigate the fine cusp between opulence and burn-out, I’ve reached the conclusion that the superhero of priorities and awareness is needed to save the day.
There are only 24 hours in a day. And there is only one me. And when it comes down to it, all that there is to life is what’s right here. So what do I want out of life and how do I get it? Well, I’ve made a commitment to school, and I not only want to honor the commitment, but I also want to shine. To leave each (well, most – there’s always a slower day or two and that’s ok) school-work day and know that I gave it my all. On top of that, and even more importantly, I want to be happy. What good is excelling at one aspect of your life, if you go home and can’t stand to look yourself in the mirror… or you’re so anxious that it’s painful to just sit and be present in your own skin… or one aspect of your life has gotten all of your focus, to the detriment of everything else?!? Balance, it’s all about striking a balance between the different aspects of your life that are important to you and contribute to your overall happiness. So what is it that makes me happy? Well, happiness is a fluid and evolving concept so there is no set answer. In December, a tarot card kept popping up in my life that advised me to take a few minutes every day to sit and reflect on what it was that made me happy. And so I began to draw conscious awareness to what it is that makes me feel happiest – inner peace, meditation, yoga, random acts of kindness, connecting soul-to-soul with people, releasing fear and self-doubt and guardedness in favor unassuming openness and honesty and vulnerability… basically, being a cuttlefish (although the stress and fear associated with each breakthrough gets draining and can be pretty stressful… so it’s sort of a love-dislike relationship at times), helping and listening to others, the innocence of children and nature, playing, my family and friends, connecting with myself, doing well at work-school, letting go of any pretense or self-doubt, and so on.
Now that I have a pretty good idea of the different priorities in my life that [are my priorities because they] contribute to my happiness, it’s time to take these thoughts and let them form the foundation for the manifestation of the life that I want. How? Well, for starters, I need to sit down and write out the specific slices that make up my happiness-is-life pie. I will also list and sort the current activities that fill my day into “necessities,” “nice-to-do’s,” “have to put off for now.” And then I will put all of this information together and re-shuffle it all as I see fit in order to bring awareness into shaping the life that I want to have. After all, it’s my life isn’t it? And 95% of what’s around me is the way it is because of my perceptions and [choices].
So through this post, I’m now accountable to making time to write this list out and post it as an example of what I’m talking about. Except it’ll have to wait a little bit… my meeting got postponed this morning and so I decided to take some me time and shed light onto the blog garden that I’ve been neglecting… but now it’s back to default world and 6 hours straight of meetings. Infinite opulence doesn’t come easy. But it is a choice.