Finally, the weather here in Ohio is starting to gradually get nicer and nicer, which means one thing: Spring time! Growing up in the DC area, I have grown pretty fond of the Spring. Cherry blossoms are blooming, temperatures are rising, and it’s time to crawl out of our dorm room caves and into the sunlight again. For me, Spring also means it’s time for some extra cleaning, not just of my room, but also of my priorities.
When I was just starting up my fitness club here at Denison, I had several meetings with our club advisor. He helped me figure out logistics for the club, organization, etc. One of the most important things that he charged me with was prioritizing. He told me that the key to being happy in your work life is prioritization. At first, I brushed this notion off as fairly ludicrous. Being the educated college man that I am, I knew that prioritization was important, but “the key to happiness” seemed like a stretch. As time went on, I mulled over the idea, trying to figure out if there was more meaning to what my advisor had said. At times, I considered the possibility that he was simply being metaphorical and trying to motivate me to put the club first, and increase my dedication to this project.
After a week or two, I came to the conclusion that I was being an idiot. My advisor was not talking in a fourth dimension, or trying to make metaphors. He was being realistic, straight forward, and to the point. I literally needed to sit down, pull out my computer and type out a list of what was most important to me. So without hesitation I did just that, and suddenly everything changed. What I thought was important to me turned out to be at the bottom of the list, what was important to me 2 years ago didn’t even make the list, what I had been thinking so little about made it the top of the list. I was surprised, scared, and, as my advisor had predicted, happy.
Suddenly the stress that I was feeling from school, my job as an RA, and even my role in the club felt easy. My life at school began to flow and I found myself in a very good place. This was not because I put academics, or being an RA at the bottom of my list, but because I knew their place and role in my life. I knew that there were things out there that were more important to me than school and work and school-work. So, I decided to write a blog post about it.
I want to give you the tools you will need to create a priorities list, just like I did, that will give you some piece of mind and happiness. Here is what you will need to do:
- Pull out your favorite writing utensil (paper and pen, computer, etc.)
- Write down the 10-15 most important things in your life in no particular order (ex: family, friends, academics, money, happiness, success, etc.)
- Put those things in order from most important (1) to least important (1o, or 15, or however many you got) BE HONEST
- Take a second and look at that list, you might be surprised.
- Now, using a blue highlighter, highlight the things on that list that you feel are self motivated (i.e: it is something you would still do if no one had asked you too, or suggested to you).
- Now, using a red highlighter, highlight the things on that list that you feel are motivated by some outside source (i.e: someone else told you to do it, you feel pressure from some outside source to do it.) (It’s okay if some things are half red, half blue.)
- Erase the red stuff and take a look at your list. Spend some time.
- Bring back the red stuff and erase the blue stuff. Take a look at the list, spend some time.
- Bring back the blue stuff.
When I did this exercise, I was incredibly surprised at the results. When I took away the red stuff, It seemed that my life was much more relaxed, laid back and unstructured. When I took away the blue stuff, my life seemed very materialistic, structured, and bland. However, each time I took something away, my list felt empty. Entertaining this feeling of emptiness when I took some things off of my list showed me that my list was valid. If I had taken off the stuff in red and felt like my life was happier, and my list was better, I might have needed to re-think my priorities. Likewise, if I had taken off the stuff in blue and felt like my life was better, I would have needed to re-think my list.
Having a list of priorities has helped me understand what is truly important to me, which allows more happiness to seep into my life. So, before you call your Spring cleaning complete, take a second to consider sweeping up your prioritizing. It just might brighten your day.