In the movie Best Man Holiday the star football player (played by Morris Chestnut) lives by a theme of God, Family, and Football (in that order). Since the movie came out a few years back, I’ve been trying to name my third priority in life. I haven’t intentionally arrived at an answer, but my actions have filled in the blank for me. Work (writing and community organizing) is my third priority, but if I’m honest it has taken precedence over everything else for the last six months.
I’ve become a workaholic. You belong in this category if two or more of the following statements apply: you are often on the go, you fit life around the work you have to do, you only like to hang if work (or something progressive) can get done, or you take something to work on everywhere you go. This is not an extensive list, but in trying to mentally and tangibly prepare to leave my traditional job in two months, these are a few habits I’ve developed that have consequentially deprioritized what was important.
Being aware of my deprioritization of faith and family, means I can start taking steps to reset my priorities. As I bring you along my unpacking process, I want you to consider your own life theme and how your actions shape what’s important.
Relinquishing Control: Everyone who knows me knows I’m a very structured person. I often obsess over how time-efficient everything is, and I need life to flow on my intended schedule. The problem with this line of thinking is that life doesn’t have a schedule. Unplanned situations take place all the time and real living comes in learning how to be flexible. (I had to exhale as I wrote that last sentence.)
One of the reasons work has so easily taken over my life is because of my inability to relinquish control over my day. I needed church to be 1.5 hours, so I could get to the coffee shop to start writing. I needed friends and family to contact me in certain ways (text first) and at particular times. Setting boundaries to get work done is healthy, but if my to-do lists rarely shrink, I have to accept that there will always be work to get done. Instead of stressing and packing my days, I need to start balancing work with my first two priorities. (Often times, I’m able to get more done when I take time to pause.)
Squeezing vs Setting Time: I was reading a devotion on the Bible app that talked about how people rarely have time to build their relationship with God because we often try to squeeze Him into our schedules. The devotion recommended that we establish the time we need to spend with God and work our schedule around that. Simple, but life-changing.
I know when I pray in the morning and start the day with devotions, I feel internally prepared. Yet, I still struggle to make the time because I want to stick to my schedule or get to the next work item. This means, I either, need to get up earlier, or adjust my schedule. The same applies to family. I know I want to check-in on certain people, but I’m always struggling with how much time I have to spare. Instead, I can set aside time (like watching a basketball game together), so that I’m not rushing to the next task but working around intentional plans.
We all have spoken and unspoken life themes. As we live out our purposes, different periods may require more of our attention, but we can never lose sight of our priorities. A friend recently said to me, “I make time for my friends because if I have success and no one to share it with, what’s the point?” Think about what you want to have when you reach success, and make sure you’re nurturing those needs as well.