I had a chat with a friend today after work for an hour or so, and things meandered into us talking about how we manage our time. I blurted out, “You have to ruthlessly prioritize your life,” or something along those lines, and the words stuck with me hours later in my mind as a core value that I want to elaborate on for a bit.
What “Ruthlessly Prioritizing Your Life” Is Not
I feel like it’s important to expressly say what this phrasing IS NOT before I jump into what it is.
I am not telling people to be selfish.
I am not telling you to choose yourself over your family and friends.
I am not saying, “F*** everybody else.”
I am not saying that you should become super organized.
I repeat — this post is NOT about any of those things.
“So… What DO You Mean, Johnnie?”
Oh, thanks for asking!
When I tell someone that they should ruthlessly prioritize their life, what I’m saying is that you should focus on things that bring you joy, and put the unknown amount of time that you have left in this life to use on those things. You should put those things above all else. Prioritize them. Ruthlessly.
And, no – don’t take that to mean, “Quit your job and go spend time with your family.” Stop. Whoa. Slow down there.
You have to work to eat & feed that family.
But if it comes down to being at that important meeting or witnessing the birth of your child. CHOOSE YOUR CHILD!
Looking at this another way — say that you miss the birth. Ok? And then say that you find out the world is literally ending in a week. How important does that meeting feel now compared to missing out on that cherished memory?
So, not knowing how much time you have — prioritize the things that you value most over those things that really don’t matter as much.
Can’t Go 100%? Meet Yourself Halfway
It is worth saying that I understand everyone doesn’t have the luxury of chasing something like this kind of motto as a personal value, but — dammit — you at least have to meet yourself halfway.
I have talked to people who NEVER choose their priorities. Like… at all. It is ALWAYS about someone else. They are ALWAYS executing on something else for work, their family, a lover, their faith, a contest, something — anything and anyone other than themselves. I have also seen the impact living that kind of life can have on a person’s energy, sense of self, and zest for life — and it ain’t pretty (yes, I said “ain’t” and I’m aware of the word “isn’t” — deal with it).
But — I understand that those people have a huge sense of responsibility on their shoulders. Fine.
Do what YOU want every other time. Draw a line.
People will do what you let them. So if you constantly communicate to the world around you that YOU and your desires and self-actualization come second — guess how they’re going to treat you? Guess who they’re going to bring their “flaming pile of poo” situations to for handling while they go and focus on living out their own priorities?
Be fair to yourself and realize that time is the great equalizer. Their time is no more valuable than yours. Not in terms of what matters to YOU. Unless it’s like… a Sci-Fi scenario where they’re the only person on the planet who can cure a disease that threatens not only you and your family – but… EVERYONE. In that case… Yeah. They are more important. Sorry.
I can’t, and won’t, tell you how to live. I can merely encourage you to do what makes you happy.
Some people are into self-sacrifice. If that’s your jam – by all means, ignore what I’m saying in this post. But if any of this rings true in any part of your mind — please — PLEASE — be ruthless.