Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Priorities 101 (Problem Two)

This is the third entry in a series on setting priorities.  Missed the two earlier posts in the series?  Simply click here and here to catch up.

On occasion, I concoct grandiose plans that differ in their specifics, yet revolve around one similar theme: be better at everything.

This always seems to contain the thought that I will morph into a master chef who shops in open-air markets at a leisurely pace and cooks all meals from scratch while humming thoughtfully and gazing at a vase of freshly cut flowers that is placed on my already-set kitchen table, instead of being a mother who serves chicken nuggets and corn on plastic plates that sit on a kitchen table with crayons, uncapped glue sticks, Lego pieces, and -- on at least one occasion -- a pair of dirty socks.

In these fantasies I never need to clean up the kitchen because I never make a mess.  I never need to change a diaper in the middle of dinner prep.  I also have a mastery of all current events, have caught up on all to-do lists, and am much more well-read.

Although these fantasies are just that -- fantasies -- they can mess with our sense of priorities.  With our eyes in the sky, we fall trap to a second issue when setting priorities.

Problem 2: Being too lofty

This one is simple: we sometimes set expectations for ourselves that aren't attainable.  But because these expectations are so wonderful -- and because it feels good to think we can meet them -- we elevate them to a prioritized status.

The problem is we can't sustain them.

Oh, we might for a few days.  We might get up at 5:00 in the morning for four days straight so we can get a jump start on our day, but soon we will hit snooze.  The next day we'll hit it twice.  We'll mess up, skip a day, get off track, and before we know it, we're lying on the couch despondently eating Oreos because we just ate potato chips and we might was well polish them off with something sweet.

Solution 2: Be realistic

The fix to this is quite simple, actually.  Be honest with yourself.  Consider what you can do right now in your real life given your current circumstances and constraints.

Please note that this isn't about setting the bar low.  This isn't about living life with mediocrity.  This isn't about downplaying the big dreams in your life.  It's about being wise with your resources so you don't start off so fast that you fizzle out in a few days.  If you realistically count the costs of managing your priorities, you'll be more efficient and effective.

Check back tomorrow for the third problem and solution in our series!
 
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