It seems in our society that being “overbooked” has become synonymous with being an important, valued individual. So we rush from children to work to errands to housework to volunteer time to renovations to social time with hardly a chance to breathe or think. If we can’t return phone calls or emails or respond fully to customers, then it’s just another sign that we’re really handling the other more important stuff in life – other people will just HAVE to understand.
While there’s no doubt that some days are quite hectic or turned upside down by real emergencies, maybe we’re really fooling ourselves about the important parts of life if we’re always focusing on our “TO DO List” instead of our “WE VALUE List”?
When we take the time to figure out what our values are, how we want to contribute to the world, what principles are most important to us, and how we want to tap into our best strengths, then we have our own platform available to help us make choices about what we do each day and how we do it.
For example, you want to take your kids to their extra-curricular activity because you think it will be fun for them and/or help them learn new skills. But, because you’re still fuming over a colleague’s response at work, you’re also now upset at having to drive in afternoon traffic and end up arguing with the kids all the way to the activity and then all the way through dinner and the evening afterwards.
What if we had decided it’s a critical part of our lives to be more “in the moment” and we then focus on how great it is the kids are healthy enough to participate and we really want to use the time together to build more family memories?
Or, while you’re working on a project deadline that is rapidly approaching you decide it’s also imperative to answer the phone anyway when it rings. On the other end is a friend who is getting back to you about getting together the following day. You are so stressed and upset about the project that you bluntly tell them that you’re stuck in this important project and you don’t have time to deal with them today.
Unfortunately, what you’ve now accomplished is putting a major dent in your friendship and making it clear that your friend’s time is less valuable than yours. What if we had already decided that our friends and family were top priorities for us, and so instead reacted by either 1) NOT answering the phone unless we were prepared to respond with civility to the caller, or 2) taking the 30 seconds necessary to thank our friend for calling, make some plans, or set a time to talk later in the evening?
Because it takes some upfront time (and some ongoing reminders) to think about what we really need in life and what we think our purpose is, it often seems much easier to just “go with the flow” or “wing it” with whatever comes at us.
But, if we’re usually being reactive, doesn’t that mean we’re also not making conscious choices and taking control over how our life turns out?
And if we feel out of control and stressed, how can this be good for the long term happiness and success we say we want?