It's Just a Matter of Priorities
Hello my courageous creatives! I send happiness to each of you as we enter the season of celebrate what we love most in life and in spirit! I hope you have been enjoying the joys and frivolities of the season; and I also hope you have been honoring, in your own unique fashion, this time by reflecting on the mysteries that spin us round and round.
I’m writing this on Friday night. Stacks of papers, books, folders, old journals litter my entire upstairs. I’m surrounded by a huge mess. And to make it worse, instead of being in a noisy, crowded restaurant taking photos of my food—which is scrumptiously delicious—and my friends—who are laughing uproariously because they are so beautiful and their lives are so fabulous—I’m at home cleaning out file cabinets. Is that pitiful?
I have just filled my 96 gallon behemoth of a recycling bin with file folders and notebooks that date back to the early eighties. This stuff has been sitting in two four-drawer file cabinets that I have moved into 5 different homes, and have lodged into a variety of places of honor and dishonor in those various homes. For some deeply disturbing reason, I have been stubbornly unable to throw away student writing and file-folders filled with what I thought was very clever curriculum.
And why am I doing it tonight—finally? I have no idea, but I’m sure there’s some profound neurotic issue that I’m trying to avoid. When things get edgy, I get organized. (We won’t go there, OK?)
Anyway, as I’ve been reading through the detritus of the last forty years of my professional life, and reluctantly discarding all evidence of those years, I’ve also been listening to TED Talks. This month, TED is offering an end-of-the-year special called “31 days of ideas,” a compendium of some of the most popular talks over the last few years years. Earlier tonight, I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on “your elusive genius.” If you’ve been in a class I’ve mine in the last five years, you’ve heard this one, one of my all-time favorite TED talks. And a little earlier in the day I loved hearing again Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brilliant talk on “the danger of a single story.”
This series of outstanding talks has been a tremendous antidote to the disturbing discourse we’ve all endured for the last several months. If you want to clean your palate, please subscribe to receive a fifteen minutes of high inspiration in your email every day this month.
So as painful as this purging has been, doing it against the backdrop of these inspiring talks has been quite rewarding.
It’s clear I’m in high-gear organizing mode tonight, feeling lighter and happier with each trip to the recycle bin, and setting the stage for renewal in 2017. (Marie Kondo would be so proud of me.)
And then, as if right on cue, around 9:00 p.m., I was ready to listen to today’s talk, and it couldn't have been more perfect: “How to gain control of your free time.” I was in heaven. As you all know, I’m kind of a fanatic about trying to schedule life and get shit done.
But I’m also a fanatic about getting clear about what I’m all about, which for me is ultimately what time management is all about. And that, of course, led me to thoughts of our accountability groups—three of them getting ready to begin in early January. And you’ll see why if you listen to Laura Vanderkam’s talk on finding time to do what matters most. Here’s the link.
Go listen right now! It will really give you a new perspective through which to examine you’re your goals for 2017.
Let me give you a couple of things to watch for in Vanderkam's talk. First of all, note how she talks about “priorities” instead of “intentions. “ Time management, she says, is actually about getting clear about what your priorities are. Once that is established, it’s pretty easy to say yes to only those actions which support your priorities. We’ll begin our January accountability session with this idea, so think about it.
Then she offers an intriguing challenge. She talks about December being the time of performance reviews, and she suggests that, as a way of projecting future success, we write a performance review for what we want to have accomplished by December 2017. A good idea, I think. But I want to add an additional twist. Between now and our January session, why don’t you see if you can write a performance review of yourself for 2016. She suggests that we think about three primary areas—work, relationships, and self. Which arenas were you most interested in performing better in. How would you assess yourself in those areas? What were the good strategies you applied to your endeavors and what were the obstacles you allowed to get in the way?
After you’ve examined 2016, then, go ahead and do your 2017 review. What would you want it to look like?
I hope Laura Vanderkam's talk is inspiring to you, too. I’m committed to the idea that we really can do what matters most to us. But sometimes, we need help, support, and encouragement to clearly determine what matters most to us. That’s exactly what we’ll do for each other as we begin our work in earnest come January 1.
In the meantime, take time for yourself. Rest. Enjoy your friends and family. Do what you really love to do. And spend as much time as possible in a state of gratitude.
If you’ve signed up for one of our groups, I can hardly wait to start our work together in January. And if you haven’t signed up for one, think about joining us. Check out our offerings here. We’d love to support you in creating an outstanding performance review for 2017.
And for now, may the light of the sun and the glow of the moon fill your heart until we meet again.