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Setting Priorities

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thanks for sharing your Don't Do Lists in the last post! I'm amazed at all of the things everyone is sacrificing in order to write.

As I've struggled with what to sacrifice, I've realized it all boils down to priorities. What's most important for me, may not be the same for you. But if we know what our priorities are then we'll have a much easier time figuring out which things we can sacrifice and which ones we can't.

Have you made a list of your priorities, even if just mentally? Besides writing, what activities are most important to you, the things you don't want to sacrifice (or maybe shouldn't sacrifice) in order to write?

As I've pondered over my priorities, I've realized that sometimes the important things slip onto my Don't Do List. For example, one of my priorities is to spend quality time playing with my children. At times I'll tell myself I'm too busy to play with them, but then easily do something from my Don't Do List, like watch TV.

Lately God's been reminding me just how short life is. My husband's father was recently diagnosed with both brain and lung cancer. Even though he had surgery to remove one tumor and is having radiation on the others, we don't know his prognosis. We've also had other close family members hospitalized for illnesses.

Often we move along on the writing journey and the path stretches far out in front of us. We look ahead and think we have plenty of time, time for writing, and even time to get our priorities straight. But the reality is none of us knows exactly when God will call us off the path. Whether ten feet up the road or hundreds of miles, our traveling time will eventually end.

So, what about you? Do you struggle with your priorities? Do your priority lists and your Don't Do Lists ever get mixed up?

Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity. Ephesians 5:15

29 comments:

  1. My thoughts and prayers for you father-in-law.

    Let's see: my marriage, my kids, must exercise in order to write, write, read. Ho hum, but satisfying.

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  2. Good morning Jody!! I think that life and priorities tend to mesh and ebb and flow. We will never be perfect at keeping them in line, no matter how hard we try. I guess I give myself a little leeway (how do you spell leeway anyway?) but I would go crazy if I didn't go one day at a time and decide what's best for me that day. Of course, I don't always get writing done and moan at my lack of progress, so maybe I do need to be a stickler...sigh. ;)

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  3. Prayers for your father-in-law.

    Your comment about playing with your kids really resonated with me. I always have grand plans of the daily things we'll do, but they fall apart by day two of summer vacay.

    It's hard for me to "turn off" writing and chores when I'm at home. So I try to plan afternoon activities away from the home at least once a week. I engage in the kids better.

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  4. Powerful message this morning. Since I've been on my mini-sabbatical, I've struggled with priorities. I realize I put my writing life ahead of many other things that should take priority over it and it has caused me loads of stress as well as caused me to miss many blessings. Like you and other writers, I'm slowly redoing my list, lifting it to the Lord and asking Him to make whatever changes need to be made and that I will be obedient to them.

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  5. They do get mixed up sometimes, but I try hard to keep them straight. I think it's important to play with my kiddos too.

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  6. My priorities often turn into a blur, but I can usually recognize when it's happening. My life and mental status feel off when my priorities aren't in order.

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  7. I'm sorry to hear about your Father in Law. I hope things begin to look up.

    My priorities do tend to step out of line often, BUT I'm always trying to group them back up.

    Great post!

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  8. Priorities...ah yes. I have them so nice and neat and perfect in this little head of mine. I can spout off my list of priorities, and boy, does it sound like I have my life organized and on track. The struggle comes when (as my pastor likes to say) rubber meets the road. I have a hard time sticking to my priorities when life starts happening (which it does each morning, as soon as I open my eyes). Hmmm... I have not read my Bible yet this morning. I need to get off the comp and get to steppin.

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  9. Jody: First, my dear, let me say I will pray for your father in law, and for you and your husband. Relationships are #1 in this life; they are all we can take with us when we leave...

    Yes, I get my priorities mixed up almost daily, especially if I feel pulled by someone else's expectations of me, that may not be led by the Lord. I have to constantly ask Jesus to lead and guide me by His will, not my flesh or others' agenda.

    God is proud of you for asking these tough questions of yourself, Jody. He desires our lives to be fruitful and joyful. If we are led by His Spirit, they will be. Frustration comes when we strive by our own efforts to do what only His power can.

    Love, Jen

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  10. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your f-i-l. Will put him in my prayers.

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  11. Rebecca: Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!

    Sherrinda: Great point about the ebb and flow of priorities. We'll have things that need more attention for the short term (like my writing deadline!).

    Jill: I love your idea about takinng the kids out for an activity once a week! Then it gets everyone away from distractions so that you can have fun together. I might just have to do that.

    Donna: I totally think that you're doing the right thing. When our priorities get out of whack then sometimes we just need to back off from the things that are distracting us from what's truly important.

    Jessica: I love playing with my kids! I just want to do it more!

    MeganRebekah: Good point! If we're walking around in an emotional blur, then that might be a sign to stop and evaluate our lives!

    Marybeth: Mine step out of line often too! I'd like to get better at keeping first things first!

    Katie: For sure! I have the list in my head, but my actions don't always follow.

    Jeanette: Thank you for your prayers. I totally agree about our relationships being number 1. And I love your point about knowing God's priorities! If we do, then we won't be so easily swayed by the demands of others!

    Jennifer: Thanks!

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  12. I think we all struggle with priorities from time to time, but I keep my list short, family, home, exercise, writing, and often blend them, finding writing ideas while walking, taking blog photos while out with the family, that sort of thing. For me, the key is flexibility.

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  13. Good morning, Jody!

    I'm so sorry to hear about your FIL. Since I'm going through a similiar situation with my MIL, I understand how there are some things that trump even your Must Do list.

    There are so many things that tyrannize my schedule and priorities. I sympathize with the Apostle Paul...the good stuff I want to do, I'm not doing, and the other stuff that I had no intention of doing? Well, that's what I'm doing. (Paraphrased into the Erica Vetsch Practical Application Version. :) )

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  14. Jody, I ditto everyone elses comments about prayers for your FIL.

    Priorities are huge, and I think they change daily. Spending time with my kiddos is a huge priority for me, but... it is possible to overdo it. It is GOOD for my kids to learn to entertain themselves from time to time. It is good for them not to have their day directed 100% of the time so they can have the ability to make choices. Do my kids have a little TOO much free time? Somedays. I guess my point is that somedays I need to make them a priority and give them my attention, but other days it is good for them to learn that Mommy needs to write too. Am I making any sense?

    I think all other priorities are like that. I need to have a date night with my husband every few weeks, but I don't have enough babysitters to do it EVERY week.

    I need to spend time with God and in my Bible every day, and I really need to make going to church to spend time with other believers a priority. But you know what? Last Sunday I sent my family to church and I skipped to clean my house and get ready for Gabby's birthday party. And God was TOTALLY okay with that. I listened to some of Matthew on CD, rocked out to some worship music, all while cleaning my house.I felt so much more content and at peace that day because I knew my babies were leaving, and that spending time with them that afternoon and evening needed to be my BIGGEST priority.

    I'm rambling and this is probably a HUGE comment, but my point is, your priorities should be God's priorities. Allow them to change as God leads.

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  15. God has been teaching me a lot about this lately. Yes, things can get mixed up for me. I am right there w/ you about the cancer diagnosis--dealing with that w/ my dad is crushing and I'm really trying to lean into God.

    I am so grateful to be here today and if God leads me to write, I want to honor Him in it. But first I want to be a loving wife and mom.

    Thanks for your question,
    ~ Wendy

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  16. I'm sorry to hear this about your father-in-law, Jody. So much tragedy and worry seems to be upon us all lately. I wonder if that is representative of our age. I'll be praying for him and the family.

    I think it's only human for us to let things slide at times and to get our paths crossed. This is where forgiveness is huge. As long we stop and head back on the right path as quickly as possible, then I think we're doing the best we can.

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  17. So sorry to hear of the family illnesses. These kinds of life's monkey wrenches have a way of setting my priorities for me.

    1. Take care of my Mom (diagnosed with brain cancer 20 months ago).
    2. Be the best mom possible for my kids, and wife to DH.
    3. Work on WIP.
    4. All other projects.
    5. Nap.

    *Come enter my photo caption/story starter if you get time!

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  18. I think setting priorities is a daily challenge. Crisis, needs, want-to-dos and other unexpected circumstances pop up to disorder our ordered plans. Our priorities change with the seasons too.

    I try to remain focused, but flexible, and always put God at the top of the list no matter what the season.

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  19. Prayers for your father-in-law. I'm constantly rewriting my priorities. The fact is we don't know what the next day will bring or if it will come. So I play this constant juggling act with my top priorities. And when I need a little nudge in the right direction God is pointing the way:)

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  20. I know what you mean. There have been several deaths in my husband's family.

    I do have to remind myself to engage with my children, to stop and play games or do whatever they choose to do. Because the time flies. Lately I've been bugging my 14yo for hugs--and you can imagine how that's going--because I realize the time has passed when he's interested in having Mommy hang out with him, and in a few short years, he'll strike out on his own.

    So yes, I have to put down the writing, even though I get precious little time to write as it is, or the book I'm reading.

    People matter.

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  21. *sigh* somedays I'm better than others. I try desperately to pace myself! It doesn't always work.

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  22. It's up and down all the time. I'm trying, but I often have to remind myself about my priorities.

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  23. Joanne: Flexibility is a theme I'm hearing a lot today!

    Erica: I love your paraphrased version! And you're right,I struggle to do the things I know I should, but do the things I don't want! It's an ongoing battle!

    Krista: Great point about our kiddos needing to be able to occupy themselves and play creatively. We're not here to do a song and dance and entertain them at all times! But I tend to err on the side of not setting aside enough quality time.

    Wendy: Sorry to hear about your dad. It's incredibly sobbering to think about our days being numbered and trying to make the most of what's really important.

    Eileen: I think you're right. We're getting to the age where parents and grandparents are growing older and so we'll have more caretaking!

    Angie: I didn't realize your mom is dealing with brain cancer! That's amamzing that she's survived for 20 months. We aren't sure my FIL's prognosis, but that give me some hope!

    KelliGirl: It is definitely a challenge to keep priorities from slipping!

    Kara: Since we don't know what will come our way, we have to be wise with our time today, don't we?

    Patricia: I'm having to bug my 12 year old for hugs too! They'll be gone before we know it, and I don't want to have any regrets!

    T.Anne: I know what you mean! It's hard to pace ourselves and keep it all in balance!

    lotusgirl: Sometimes those reminders are just what we need!

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  24. I have trouble saying no to things, so I often struggle to keep my priorities straight...because I have so many of them! As they relate to writing, I'm learning that sometimes I have to block out a day (vacation day or Saturday) to write and not tell anyone that I'm home...so I can write more freely.

    Someone I knew from college (my age) just died this week (no warning), so that has caused me to rethink where I spend my energies.

    And I didn't get a chance to post, but thank you for the last post about the "don't do" lists because that was a good reminder for me as well.

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  25. Sure, I get them mixed up all the time. I figure as long as I keep trying to re-prioritize and renew my goals, I'll eventually get there :D

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  26. I think it's important to allow for spontaneous breaks from the routine. Like dieting, if you don't rest/recharge, you'll feel so deprived that you'll abandon your resolve.

    I'm going away this weekend and enjoying my family.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  27. I love the fact that you have talked about priorities and that you point out how some of the less meaningful things, like tv, get time when the priorities don't.

    I've got to vent, just a little. I hate it when people tell me, with sincerity, that they didn't have time to do something important for me, because what I hear is that the thing that they said they would do is really not a priority.

    My health is probably the prioritty that I am not putting enough time into. I put in plenty of time drinking iced americanos and plenty of time typing. I love to run more than just about anything in the world, and yet I am not. There it is, the truth.

    By the way, if my wife and I ignore our kids for very long they do outrageous things to get our attention. If my son Daniel is quiet and not around for sixty seconds we know that he is getting into something, like the chocolates up in the highest cupboard shelf or the cough drops in my car. By the way, he is three. (When he is really grouchy we resort to tv sometimes, but going for a walk--even if he is in the jogging stroller--is such a better choice for both of us.)

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  28. Tess: You seem like such a carefree person! I don't go with the flow quite as easily!

    Susan: So true! We do need breaks from routine!

    Dave: I have a three year old too! And I know EXACTLY what you're talking about! Silence isn't a good thing!

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  29. Bekah: Sorry to hear about your friend's death. A death or illness sure does help us re-evaluate our priorities! And blocking out time is a great way for me to get a great jump start on a project too!

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