Managing your priorities
One of the biggest struggles in my day-to-day life is managing my priorities. And by that, I mean I take stuff wayyyy too seriously. Car bill due? I’m thinking about it all day. Carpet to vacuum? Also on my mental to-do list. Some people think that keeping these kinds of daily priorities in your mind is an act of mature responsibility. I know I used to. But, more recently, I’ve been made aware of just how limiting that kind of prioritisation can be. Not just to your mental health and your happiness, but it can limit the happiness of important people in your life. If you spend all your time prioritising your responsibilities, you’re likely ignoring some things that are very important to your life. Like your family, your friends, your “you” time, etc. The best way to determine if you’ve got your priorities straight is to take some time now and again to re-evaluate them. Below are a few ways that you can start.
Spend as much time as you can doing something you love to do. Often, we push away our own needs in favour of the needs of our loved ones, such as aging parents, or our children. While this is a noble practice, we cannot neglect our own bliss in the process. Make it a practice to do something that fuels you as much as you can. Surround yourself with people who want to be happy. This might sound like a strange request, but it’s important if you want to be happy, the fastest way is to hang around with people who are happy. In other words, it’s time to distance yourself from emotional vampires. Certainly, you can’t do that 100% of the time, especially if the toxic individuals are your co-workers or relatives, but you can minimise the impact they have on you by minimising your contact with them. Replace them with people who genuinely care about you and want you to lead a fulfilled life.
Set some personal goals that will get you closer to where you want to be. Do you feel as if time is your enemy rather than your friend? Take control of the time you have by setting and accomplishing personal goals. Remember to divide your personal goals into doable “baby steps” and mark off each one you accomplish. If you have setbacks, don’t let them kill your dreams. They’re just tiny bumps in the long road.
Stay in the moment whenever you can. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Live each day by being fully in the moment. Resist the urge to be on “auto-pilot” throughout your life, and you’ll find yourself feeling happier.
Start to forgive yourself and others. It’s hard to be in a happy place when you’re angry or holding on to guilt, frustration, and other negative emotions. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being in touch with your feelings, there’s a time and a place to set them free and let them go. If you’re holding grudges, you’re actually hurting yourself more than anyone else.
Get in charge of your health. Have you allowed your weight or nutritional wellness to get out of control? Happy people are in charge of their health as much as they can be. While this doesn’t mean you have to become a health guru, you probably can start eating better and enjoying a few exercises. Over time, you’ll feel powerful because you’ll know that you can govern your health.
Learn how to delegate. Your happiness could be as close as asking someone else to help you. Too often, people take on tasks and simply add them to their responsibilities. Eventually, they become slaves to those responsibilities and may start to feel disgruntled. This gets in the way of being satisfied. By delegating some of the tasks to others, the load is lightened and the room is made for cheerfulness.
Look at setbacks as opportunities to grow. Setbacks in life happen. It’s how we deal with them that sets us apart. If you have something happen that sets you back, use it as a chance to slow down and objectively evaluate what’s going on in your life. Often, it can be a useful sign that something’s amiss and can be altered for the better.
Focus on what’s important to you. Are you living someone else’s life? You may be if most of your decisions aren’t geared toward what’s really important to you. Take a few days and consider what you hold most dear in life. Are your actions helping you get closer to what’s important? Or are they moving you away? By aligning your actions with what you really want, you’ll find a truer sense of happiness and purpose. Have you ever had a clear sign of who you really are and then totally ignored it? Maybe it required too much change or taking a big risk. Maybe you were scared to have to convince a loved one how much you needed this. And so you rationalised that “it wasn’t the right time.” Convinced yourself to be sensible and put it off for a while. My journey has had many different directions and I have defiantly weathered the hard times, but I would not have changed this journey, difficult as it was in some ways, even if I had the chance, because it taught me, through trial and lots of errors, how to become real. Everyone’s journey is unique. And so this is in no way a generic prescription.
Cherish those special friendships. I had (and still have) friends who knew and loved me unconditionally. This is truly invaluable. Make and keep good friends and be honest with them. They can be your “moral compass” during stormy times. Don’t hate those who stumble; we all do sometimes. We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. If you can, forgive and allow compassion for your relationships. It makes the ride more beautiful.
Take responsibility for your own life. This is the beginning of self-esteem. Although stuff happens, ultimately you are responsible for your actions. When we deeply and utterly understand that to be true, life takes on a whole new meaning. Whatever has happened until the past moment is gone. This present moment is again yours. And you have the power to do whatever you want with it. Have a big vision and keep your goals aligned with that vision. Make sure you know what kind of person you want to be; what kind of job you’d like to do and life you’d like to lead. Then shape your short-term goals so it is moving you in that direction (or at least not away from it).
Remember that death makes life real. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Death can come at any moment, to any of us. We don’t have forever to be who we are. In fact, we owe it to ourselves, and those we love, to be truly alive and authentic in each moment. It is the only legacy we can be proud to leave behind.
Don’t worry too much about making mistakes. It is better to have tried and failed than to not have tried at all. Think and analyse your decisions carefully, but once you feel reasonably sure you have made a good choice, just trust yourself. Be bold and go forth into the wilderness. Whatever happens, you will have gained an experience from it that only the courageous can boast of.
Know your strengths. You are unique. There is only one you in this entire universe. No one has exactly your strange and magical mix of genes and experience. Learn what makes you tick. And keep building on that. You will make wonderful things happen. Be kind to yourself. We all mess up once in a while. When it happens and you finally catch on, drop your ego, admit your mistake fully, and make amends. Learn from it so you don’t repeat that same lesson again. Then forgive yourself and move on. Life is hard and we are not made to be perfect.
Be in the moment. This present moment is alive and full of potential. Learning to be mindful has helped me tremendously by keeping me in my life, as it happens. Whether you are playing, sleeping, working, lazing, watching TV, or hanging out with someone you love, give your awareness to it 100%. I highly recommend a daily mindfulness practice. It has changed the way I relate to life.
Don’t forget to laugh. It has got me through many sticky situations. And laughter created hours of pure fun. Include as much good humour in your day as legally possible. That’s doctor’s orders.
ABOUT SARAH JONES
Sarah Jones is the UK’s leading holistic lifestyle expert. Her clients include Lorraine Kelly and Anthea Turner among many others. Her motto is: “What consumes your mind controls your life.” For more information, please visit the official website at sarahjonesuk.com. Follow Sarah on Instagram @sarahjonesuk
This article was first published in ESTILA Vol8/2018.