i’ve never been much for “new year’s resolutions” finding that they generally circle around the same topics–weight loss, working out more, spending less money, etc.–and land flat on their faces after a few months.
i am, however, a big of reflection on and reconsideration of one’s life and choices. and this time of the year, being the end of one and the beginning of another seems like a good time to conduct some deeper thinking.
for me, one the hardest things i’ve been contemplating has not been how much weight to lose or how to eat healthier or how many times this week i need to hit the gym (though goodness knows i need to do all three), but rather, how to prioritize.
prioritizing seems like such a basic concept. we learn it as children when we’re forced to choose to buy one toy over another because that’s all our meager allowances or birthday will cover. we have to weigh out the possibilities, to realize one has more value to us over the other. or when we have to consider that one choice will lead to peace, while the other will lead to punishment. we learn that prioritizing inevitably influences our behavior.
if it’s so elementary, then why do i, as a nearly-30-year-old, have so much trouble?
i remember in high school, having two jobs at the young age of 16. i initially started working at the local day care after school and that was great. the only flaw was that the kids went home by six, so i worked just 2 hours each day. eventually, i realized that the gas station across the street (i lived in the country so these were really the only two business in my “neighborhood”) was open until 10p, and they were looking for someone to close. i signed myself up, and went from the daycare at 6 to work another 4+ hours, closing up a gas station by myself.
i came home completely wasted with exhaustion, only to get up at 5:30a to go run a mile before school. i was a classic study in doing too much, and to this, i can’t even tell you why i did it. i didn’t save the money for college or need it for any dire reason. i just couldn’t figure out how to not do everything, and i didn’t have anyone telling me to sit still long enough to hear that faint voice inside that whispers to us what our priorities should be.
the running and the doing too much and the stretching myself to thin has continued into my adulthood as i’ve struggled time and time again to understand what my values, and therefore, my priorities should be. i think the hardest thing i’ve had to digest is that “prioritizing” doesn’t only mean that you give more time/energy/attention to one thing over another. sometimes it means you give up that other thing altogether. even if it’s a really amazing thing. that truth hit me one morning recently, and sank deep into the pit of my stomach like a dead weight.
i came to a bit of a crossroads yesterday at work, where i had to seriously begin to consider what, exactly, my values and goals are in this season of life, and where, then, my priorities should lie. i still haven’t come to a clear conclusion but a stark reality has emerged: i’m still doing too much.
and so, in this season of making resolutions to do more, i find that my aim must be to do less.
i look around at the people i consider successful in my life, and one the key common factors in each of them is that they took something they were good at and loved, and made it their one, sole focus. they developed it, and stuck by it, even in the hard times that told them they would never be successful, or the boring times that told them they could have more fun somewhere else.
they honed in and focused and, above all, committed. that’s what i need. to take an honest inventory of my life. where it is and where i want it to be. and then make a plan to get there. hunker down and do, as a wise person once told me, “what is mine to do.”
that is my goal for this new year.