When We Compromise our Priorities
Have you ever been frustrated with yourself when you’ve compromised one of your priorities?
If you’re reading this, I know you have them: things you’ve defined as the most important in your life – the people, places and habits that make up a life worth living. Yet sometimes other things get in the way of our being true to what matters.
Especially when it’s summer and we want to cram as much good into those warm months as possible. Attending outdoor summer concerts, cultural festivals, drinks on the patio, trips to the lake, hiking, cookouts, pool parties, etc. all descend on our lives like manna from heaven.
It’s mid-June and my social calendar is packed with invitations, family gatherings, as well as some of my own bucket list items. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I’m ecstatic! It’s summer! I love the warm weather and all of the above.
But here comes the problem.
Sometimes, I’m guilty of saying yes to invitations and skipping things that I’ve designated as important for my long-term health and happiness. A last-minute invitation to hang out at the pool has a way of undermining my intentions to work on my blog or do research for my next book. An invitation for coffee with a friend can tempt me to skip a meeting or even a workout at the gym. And then I feel bad. Once in a while, I have a super busy morning and even decide it’s okay, just this once, to skip my meditation. Then I really get frustrated with myself! I feel like a real loser.
Okay, I’m not a total prude or a workaholic. I think it’s fine on occasion to simply let go and have some fun. But what if our fun times begin to usurp our priorities? When we compromise our priorities, and we do it often, like I have been lately, it can make us feel rotten about ourselves.
So that’s the rub, no one’s perfect.
What a lot of us are already working on is developing an awareness about this frustrated/bad feeling, the one that tells us when we’re out of alignment with what we say matters to us the most. If we’ve done our homework, we’ve already chosen our priorities based on where we see our life going and the fulfillment of our purpose. We can get sidetracked a little and it won’t hurt a bit, but when we start to do it often, we bust up our sense of integrity.
Can we really trust ourselves if we’re continually going against what we say we want?
I know from experience I can’t stand the feeling of regretting a choice. So when I recognize this feeling, I’m supposed to re-assess and re-visit my WHY. I might even need to re-establish my commitment to my priorities.
Constant awareness of priority = better decision-making, right?
Well in stealing a quote from the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “The situation’s a lot more nuanced than that.”
I’ve always had trouble with competing desires. I guess that’s what makes me who I am, not a one trick pony or someone you can pin down so easily. I tend to wander a lot in life, exploring possibilities and trying new things. My tendency toward distraction has produced some pretty surprising and interesting occurrences in my life. My less than perfect adherence to what’s best for me has led me on some fun adventures, times I’ll never forget. They have taught me things about myself I never knew.
So I can also say that too much focus on priorities can lead to the kind of control that keeps us stuck.
I think my tendency to wander worries people who love me because they’re afraid I might fall down the rabbit hole one day or get myself in deep financial trouble, but that’s not happened so far…knock on wood. On top of that, I think people are a lot more comfortable when they know what to expect from me. They want me to consistently move in one direction, and I don’t. It probably makes me seem unreliable or uncommitted, but I can’ worry about how I appear to others when I’m too busy focusing on riding the wave of life.
So there’s that, tripping and finding myself off the beaten path of my life can also be a blessing in disguise. It reminds me that the time I think has been wasted, may have been spent on something my heart still really needs. It makes me question the balance of my priorities.
Tony Robbins, one of my favorite personal development mentors, consistently reminds us that we have competing needs, like the need for certainty (stability) and the need for uncertainty (excitement and adventure), the need for significance (independence) and connection (interdependence), and finally growth (who we are becoming) and contribution (what we are giving). These six needs are what motivate us and make us do the things we do.
The goal he says is to find balance with these.
And this week, I guess I got a little carried away with adventure and excitement and my need for some stability and focus on healthy habits reared its ugly head, making me feel bad.
But feeling bad doesn’t help me feel better. We have to use that not-so-great feeling to generate a new response in a situation like this. Rather than punish myself, I want to honor the human-ness of contradiction.
Nowadays, I refuse to beat myself up over getting a little lost sometimes. I don’t want to get stuck in self-judgment and become blind to my experience, losing sight of goodness, and my ability to be present and grateful. I already know how to be rigid and controlling with myself. I’ve got that one down. But being spontaneous, free and lighthearted, not so much.
So this recent experience made me look closely at the interplay of our needs and desires. I’m always tweaking my life. I pray to live more fully in a flow that takes all of this into account…or at least to let go of my worrying about being wrong about my life.
I know that who I am to myself is the most important relationship I have to keep up. If I don’t like myself, the rest isn’t worth much either. And so we have to ask sometimes:
Can I be honest with myself?
Do I approve of my decision-making?
Am I making the most of my life, both in my relationships with others and my desire to make a difference in the world, not just to have a lot of fun…which I could do, believe me, at least for a while.
That is until the feeling comes and says, Tracy, you’re not quite being the person you can be. And then all I can do is adjust my sails and reset my course. I’m not going to give up my priorities entirely. But neither am I going to deny that the Universe, my higher power, my source might have a stronger sense of what it wants of me in this life. Sometimes it has no better way to get its message across than to shake us up a little. I’d rather that be via honest distraction than a disaster.
I think deep inside we can all see that best self, constantly presenting itself to us in a spectacular light as if saying, see, this is what you could be if you decided to stay true to your own good. Yet in doing so, we also have to get to know that person on a deeper level, not try to make him/her fit a mold or image we saw on tv.
Thanks, everyone for exploring this new way of thinking about the concept of backsliding. I hope my sharing about my challenges can help you in some way reconsider your own.
Have a wonderful Wednesday…
In Life and Love,