Don’t Let What Is Urgent Distract from What Is Important. Inspiring Life Reminder From My Heart To Yours.
It was the week of Thanksgiving and I was planning to go home to see my family for the holiday. I just had a few work projects. And laundry. And cleaning. And meetings. The to-do list kept growing and my plans to visit home kept shortening. “Ill be there for Thanksgiving mom, just need to take care of a few things.”
And then Monday night I got a phone call. Grandma is in the hospital. Stroke. It’s not looking to good. I stopped in shock mid email. Tears. Fears. Reality check.
Have you ever noticed that what is “urgent” in your life and what is important to your life are two very different things? Too often we let the to-do’s and the life tasks distract us from what we really value. Time with family, enjoying hobbies, travel, love, living intentionally. Clearly I’m guilty of forgetting and need regular reminding. It’s all to easy to be summoned by the sharp *PING* of texts, phone calls, or emails, and forget what truly matters.
It doesn’t need to take a dramatic life event for us to wake up to the important things in our lives. It just takes regular check-ins. Truth is: It’s all to easy to lose sight of our values in our fast paced world of ambition, distraction, and responsibilities. If you are anything like me, you need to slow down, pull off the freeway, and re-evaluate your directions regularly. All of us must change course from time to time because what is surrounding us is constantly changing and we are growing and changing with it. If you don’t stop to reflect and direct you could run over your life. You have to make time to design your directions you could get lost and end up off-roading it.
Id like to invite you to take a moment to slow down and pull out your map. Silence the phone, turn off the email, sit still with yourself. Are you driving in the direction YOU want? Or do you always feel like you are operating in auto-pilot and putting your life off?
Values are not the same as goals. Values are directions we keep moving in, whereas goals are what we want to achieve along the way. A value is like heading North; a goal is like the river or mountain or valley we aim to cross whilst traveling in that direction. Goals can be achieved or ‘crossed off’, whereas values are an ongoing process. For example, if you want to be a loving, caring, supportive partner, that is a value – an ongoing process. If you stop being loving, caring and supportive, then you are no longer a loving, caring, supportive partner; you are no longer living by that value. In contrast, if you want to get married, that’s a goal – it can be ‘crossed off’ or achieved. Once you’re married, you’re married – even if you start treating your partner very badly. If you want a better job, that’s a goal. Once you’ve got it – goal achieved. But if you want to fully apply yourself at work, that’s a value – an ongoing process.
Here are some questions to help you dive in and re-discover your important value directions to keep driving your life forward with intention:
- Family. What sort of brother/sister, son/daughter, uncle/auntie do you want to be? What personal qualities would you like to bring to those relationships? What sort of relationships would you like to build? How would you interact with others if you were the ideal you in these relationships?
- Marriage/couples/intimate relations. What sort of partner would you like to be in an intimate relationship? What personal qualities would you like to develop? What sort of relationship would you like to build? How would you interact with your partner if you were the ‘ideal you’ in this relationship?
- Parenting. What sort of parent would you like to be? What sort of qualities would you like to have? What sort of relationships would you like to build with your children? How would you behave if you were the ‘ideal you’?
- Friendships/social life. What sort of qualities would you like to bring to your friendships? If you could be the best friend possible, how would you behave towards your friends? What sort of friendships would you like to build?
- Career/employment. What do you value in your work? What would make it more meaningful? What kind of worker would you like to be? If you were living up to your own ideal standards, what personal qualities would you like to bring to your work? What sort of work relations would you like to build?
- Education/personal growth and development. What do you value about learning, education, training, or personal growth? What new skills would you like to learn? What knowledge would you like to gain? What further education appeals to you? What sort of student would you like to be? What personal qualities would you like to apply?
- Recreation/fun/leisure. What sorts of hobbies, sports, or leisure activities do you enjoy? How do you relax and unwind? How do you have fun? What sorts of activities would you like to do?
- Spirituality. Whatever spirituality means to you is fine. It may be as simple as communing with nature, or as formal as participation in an organized religious group. What is important to you in this area of your life?
- Citizenship/ environment/ community life. How would you like to contribute to your community or environment, e.g.through volunteering, or recycling, or supporting a group/ charity/ political party? What sort of environments would you like to create at home, and at work? What environments would you like to spend more time in?
- Health/physical well-being. What are your values related to maintaining your physical well-being? How do you want to look after your health, with regard to sleep, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol, etc? Why is this important?
Remember: everyone’s driving directions are different. Not everyone has the same values, and this is not a test to see whether you have the “correct” values. Think about each area in terms of general life directions, rather than in terms of specific goals. There may be certain areas that you don’t value much; you may skip them if you wish. There may be areas that overlap – e.g. if you value hiking in the mountains, that may come under both physical health and recreation. It is also important that you consider what you would value if there were nothing in your way. What’s important? What do you care about? And what you would like to work towards?
Your life is waiting for you to take an opportunity to choose what’s right for you, even when other people (or the “urgent” sound of emails) are telling you that their own code-red needs should take priority over yours.
To follow your life’s values, you may have to reassign some seemingly important things to “un-important.” If you believe that pleasing your boss or having a spotless house is a higher priority than playing with your children or taking care of your health with enjoyable exercise, be prepared for a long and strenuous battle against destiny. Also, be prepared to lose. And after you’ve lost, go online and watch Randy Pausch’s last lecture. In Pausch, who died on July 25, you’ll see the clarity and joy of a man who chose all along to do what really mattered. That’s no consolation prize; that’s true victory.
As you focus more on what’s important to your soul, filling your schedule with the kinds of things that are vital though maybe not due this minute, every day will bring more enjoyment and refreshment to your life.
I am thankful to report that my Grandma has returned to good health and I was able to share a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday with her. It was one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever had and I am beyond grateful I had the opportunity to fully experience it. Life moves fast, if you don’t slow down and look around every once in a while you might miss it. I plan on regularly pulling off-road and checking in with my life values map to intentionally drive forward with purpose.
“Don’t let what is urgent distract from whats important” How will you live with intention and purpose?
With love and gratitude,
My mission is to empower feel good fitness inside and out. I am here to be of service in your wellness and help you get your mind, body, and spirit in shape so you can love your life. Lets work together and live well. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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