Put First Things First

Six months ago, a podcast challenged me about my priorities.  It asked me to list out my priorities, which was easy enough.  Heck, I’ve had the same ones my entire adult life. Family, Faith, Health, Work, and Social Life – in that order.    

The podcast then asked me to re-evaluate my priorities based on how I actually spent my days.  In other words, it suggested that how we live our lives is a truer reflection of our priorities than what we say.  Looking at the repeated patterns of how I spent my time, I rewrote my priority list.  

According to my behavior, my priorities were actually: Work, Work, Work, Family, Faith.  I prioritized work so heavily that I regularly sacrificed my health and my social life.  When a sick kid or family event came up, family came first. However, it was really only under those circumstances that I treated my family like they were my top concern.  The same held true for my worship and spiritual study.

I was disciplined at putting work first and foremost.  This is not a bad thing in and of itself. The reason it was problematic for me, was because I did it consistently at the jeopardy of things I cared more about. I know that we sacrifice to serve who we love, and this can mean putting work ahead of fun. However, I took it to a level that harmed my family and my health. I frequently put work ahead of spending time with my kids, prayer, as well as exercise. I was actively working against the life I truly wanted.

Since leaving corporate to start Picture It Personal Finance, I have aligned my schedule to reflect my priorities.  I bring this all up, because I had misled and deceived myself for years. I needed that podcast to pause and review my behavior. We all need that pause.

Without the pause, we could be misappropriating our most precious resources – our time and money. Social pressures, limiting beliefs, desire to please others, and emotional baggage or just a few of the reasons we fall into the traps.  There are as many reasons as there are people and perspectives.  The beauty is, once we are aware, we can change. 

We can put first things first!

I help people understand when they are working against themselves.  For example, if you really want to travel the world, quit upgrading your car every two years.  Instead put that money into a travel fund. If you really want to retire early, fund an investment bridge account that you can use before age 59.  If you really want to change careers, quit distracting yourself with fancy toys and build a massive savings runway so that you can move into your new field with confidence!

Goethe said, “Things which matter most, must never be at the mercy of thigs which matter least.”  Remember that, and act accordingly.  

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