“I’m just so busy. I don’t know if I’ll have time to …” Many times I have heard these words uttered by clients in my office. No matter what the subject of the discussion, I am prompted to ask the question “What is most important to you?”
Together we make a list of their current responsibilities and take a look at their schedules. We consider where they are spending the most time and energy throughout the days and weeks. As we discuss it, many are surprised at how their time is structured. Here in lies the tricky part as they determine the level of satisfaction with the order of the list. I ask them to take an honest, soul-searching look how their time is structured. Are they truly at peace with the order? If so, fantastic!!! If not, then some changes are in order.
There are some areas that are non-negotiable when it comes to adjusting their lives. For example, many parents would love to put careers on hold and stay home with the kids. In reality they cannot because they need to provide for the family. My clients and I talk about how to be intentional about spending time with the children during the non-working hours. We discuss ideas for ways to keep the children as a high priority.
Another challenge I give to clients is to determine where their name is on that list of priorities. Many of them realize they are putting other’s needs and wants above their own. They admit this is a big reason why they feel they have an unsatisfying and unfulfilled life. It is a huge moment when they look at the list and wonder why their name does not appear on the page. It is true that they have obligations and responsibilities that take time and energy. But in counseling they realize the importance of extending that same dedication and commitment to their own needs. And in taking time for them, they discover ways to fill their emotional cup and the result is more happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment. Therefore there is more time and energy for the rest of the list. Part of teaching my clients about priorities is helping them agree it is essential to make time for them to maintain a happy, healthy balance in life.
How about you? Are you struggling to meet the demands of your list? Are your friends and family complaining that they do not have enough of your time and attention? When is the last time you did something for yourself? I encourage you to take time to determine your priorities. Take a look at what you spend the most time and energy doing throughout your day and create a list. Evaluate the list and decide if you are satisfied with the order. If not, make changes. And don’t forget to make sure you are somewhere near the top of that list.