One of the most underrated and useful techniques in creating a steady life is to understand the purpose of priority. And yet, like most things in our hustle harder society, “priority” is a word that only comes up around work. We instinctively know that when it comes to our job, there are certain things that are more important than others. We’re okay with letting busy work fall to the wayside when a deadline is looming, but when it comes to our personal life, prioritization is often replaced with the phrase, “I don’t have time.”
As in, “I don’t have time to work out” or “I don’t have time to cook” or “I don’t have time to write that novel.”
This is, to be frank, bullshit. You do have time to work out. You do have time to cook. You do have time to write that novel. It’s just that none of this is your priority. You are not choosing to build these activities into your day, and therefore it doesn’t get done.
Whenever I point this out to people who complain about not getting around to one thing or another, I’m always shocked by how defensive they become. When it comes to things we “should” be doing, we have a nasty habit of defending our own choices in order to rationalize our lack of action. We let the excuses fly, as if not working out or not cooking is somehow an attack on our character.
But if we shift our mindset from “I don’t have time” to “it’s not my priority,” we relieve ourselves of the guilt that comes with not accomplishing a task. Working out simply isn’t a priority. Cooking is not a priority. Writing a novel is not a priority.
And it’s okay.
As long as you’re being honest with yourself about why you choose to spend your time the way you do, it doesn’t matter if you never step foot in a gym or put pen to paper.
This newsletter is my priority every Monday morning. Objectively, the few hours of dedicated writing are probably better spent on paid work, pitching editors, or trying to build a better following so my book gets bought. But, even though Happiness Is A Skill won’t be winning a Pulitzer and I’m not influencing millions of people with my words, I like starting my week with a low-stakes task that keeps me writing and reflecting. And I know that if I don’t do it on Monday morning before I get bogged down with other jobs, it won’t get done. So I prioritize it first.
What frustration would melt away if you acknowledge that all the things you “don’t have time to do” are simply not your priority right now? How might your life be more enjoyable if you stop beating yourself up for everything you’re not doing? And what might happen if you shift your priorities toward what you really want?