The Purpose of Prioritization

Seven hours and forty-five minutes ago, I sat in my living room writing this very post. There were plenty of things that needed to be done in that moment, which, even now, are probably still waiting for my attention. Instead of cleaning my apartment, vacuuming, doing the dishes or getting some much-needed sleep before the start of the work week, I decided to write.

I’m starting to wonder if most active bloggers have flawed priorities. Why should this activity come before any of those. Yet, if I’m hanging out with friends or family knowing I don’t have a blog prepared for the next day, I will step away for an hour to make sure I don’t disappoint my readers.

That’s not really true, though. As much as I cherish all my readers, I write for myself. These thoughts churn around in my mind and I just can’t stay sane without throwing them out into the world. This is my medicine, my meditation.

It has me thinking about how we go about prioritizing the important things in life. For most, people – like friends and family – come first, followed by their career. After that, some hobbies may be peppered in along with housekeeping and health. Is that really the correct way to go about life?

I’m not here to tell people what will and won’t make them happy, but I will say that one’s priorities should be based on optimum happiness and life satisfaction. The reason people tend to come first is because friends and family provide the greatest purpose. Along with socialization and support, friends and family often make us feel needed. When they have a question they can’t answer or need a shoulder to lean on, they know they can come to you. That action gives a person’s life meaning.

This photo is copyright (c) 2014 Wicker Paradise and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

I’ve been told that doctors say the will to live can be one of the biggest deciding factors in whether certain patients live or die. Sometimes, the difference between fading away in a nursing home and successfully vanquishing a sever illness is that will. Those are the moments when friends and family are the most crucial. If a person reaches a point where they are unable to work or participate in their favorite hobbies, the people around them make them feel like life is still worth living.

These days, I feel like too many people order their priorities based on something other than this meaning. Their list is based off of what society tells them will make them happy or off of immediate gratification. In the long run, I don’ think either provides true meaning and happiness.

From what I can tell, society seems to think possessing more money and more things leads to happiness. The problem is, that theory often treats people like objects. A person gains friends and lovers because of the money they have. In reality, those relationships tend to be rather shallow. They remind me of some of the popular girls in my high school whose parents bought them everything under the sun. Many if not most of their friends weren’t there for them; they were there for their money. There’s no way a life like that really has meaning.

Immediate gratification isn’t a sure way to happiness either. Often, such a philosophy can lead to frequent parties, drinking, drugs, short-lived romantic encounters and irresponsible spending. There’s no room for longevity if your focus is to do whatever makes you the happiest in any given moment. Long-term relationships, for example, are not without their struggles. Couples almost always have some disagreements and may even go to bed angry some nights. Making it through those hard times builds a stronger bond and the potential for a happier future. Giving up, on the other hand, which may make a person feel happier in the moment, removes any potential for a stronger bond or happier future with that person.

People should sit and think about what really brings meaning to their life early on. While it’s never too late, I imagine it could be quite disappointing to realize the things that truly bring meaning late in life.

The people in my life will always come first, but I think writing will always be second. When I look for jobs and imagine my future career, I’m not thinking about what my salary will be or how much I’ll have when I retire. I’m thinking about the different ways I can combine my writing with other skills to make my life fun and exciting 40 hours a week. Maybe creating a brochure on Publisher or InDesign isn’t everyone’s idea of a thrill, but I love the creativity involved.

Third place on my list would be nutrition, but not fitness. I know, fitness should be up there, but between dishes, vacuuming and video games, I have a lot of excuses. ^_^ I guess I haven’t figured out where to place everything yet, but the fact remains that writing is near the top of my priority list. It may not make me money and with all the work that goes into a post, it takes some time before I can feel the gratification of completion, but it’s one of those things that fills my life with purpose.

What’s at the top of your priority list? What do you base your list on? What on your list fills your life with purpose?

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36 thoughts on “The Purpose of Prioritization”

  1. I wonder where blogging would fit on Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs?” …. http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

    Looks like you are right on target: blogging is social interaction and that’s the 3rd most important level towards “self-actualization” — as Maslow believes, a fulfilled person.

    If you can juggle all your balls (sorry) as you have been doing and only occasionally let one drop, you’re doing pretty damned well!

    1. Social is true, but if I’m willing to let comments sit for a few days if it gives me more time to write a good blog post, maybe blogging is even higher. I’m not really sure. I’m still juggling…. and not many balls. I’m trying to take my time, adding more slowly.

  2. It seems you are really different than i imagined.someone like me living in a village in south india getting to know good writers like you is really icing in the cake.The part you said where couples fight in nights really touched me.To make a person happy just agreeing a wrong thing won’t help.Staying with my father when he was sick was the best prioritization i believe i did in my life.keep writing and god bless 🙂

    1. I’d bet staying with your father while he was sick was very important. Say you hadn’t, you may have been happier in the moment because you didn’t have to see your sick father BUT, if something serious or fatal happened to your father in your absence, you’d carry that regret you’re whole life. In the long run, being there for your father has made you happier overall.

  3. I would say my top priority is helping others and giving back in any possible way whether that’s by writing a blog post or advocating for issues that are important to me

  4. I have come to a similar realization recently. You have to give priority to the things that you enjoy and what gives you a sense of fulfillment and purpose. I am coming to realize that success and happiness is more about fulfilling those priorities, than about how far ahead of your bills you can stay.

    1. Exactly. I used to tell my father when I was in high school that I was fine living in a box so long as I was happy. He would panic a bit, saying I would never be happy living in a box. He was missing the point. Money and such doesn’t matter in the long run. It can’t bring you happiness. It can help keep you stable and take care of your basic needs so you have time to explore what truly makes you happy, but that’s not the same as making you happy.

  5. The part about relationships really resonated with me especially being in a long distance relationship the arguments can be difficult to bear, but coming through the other side stronger and happier is all the more sweeter

    1. Truth. My relationship was long distance for a few years. That didn’t stop fights from happening. You can’t be afraid to tell a person why you are angry or upset. Dealing with stuff like that is no fun, but it has to happen.

  6. Reblogged this on Missives by Michelle and commented:
    I have to say this is where I am in my life with one exception. God first, my family second, then writing. Writing has become my therapy.

    I totally agree that people look for instant gratification, to the here and now to make them happy. They don’t look at the big picture and put in the hard work. Family will always be there for you when everyone else is gone. It has been true in my case.

    Although, I do have friends whose parents deceased at a very young age, are not close to their siblings and did not have the privilege of having children. For them their family is a community of close friends. None the less, they are family.

    Whomever makes up your “family” whether it be through DNA, adoption, or really close friends, prioritize them in your life. You never know when you will need to count on them. Don’t take them for granted. Only God knows when they will be taken away.

  7. That is a great blog, really well done and very honest. I agree that money doesn’t always lead to happiness and friends and family will always be my first priority in life as well. I will definitely give this a re blog, keep up the good work.

  8. My list is similar to yours– a select group of people at the top, and then my writing. I do find that blogging takes up a huge chunk of my time but I enjoy it enough to not mind. I have to be careful to remember it’s something I choose to do, not a task I am sidled with.

    1. No kidding. I have no idea how I manage to keep this blog going. Since my life was mixed up recently, novel writing has taken a back seat. That’s the next ball I will add back into what I’m juggling.

  9. Great post! I find my family and my health top my list of priorities. Writing is definitely one of my top priorities as well, but I’ll admit there are times when I have to put writing on hold to focus on one of the other priorities.

  10. The things on my list that fill my life with purpose are: spending time with J, playing video games. reading manga, dancing around my kitchen, spending time with my Friends who I barely ever see anymore 😦 and keeping my Basil plant alive. Seriously, I kill every plant I touch. Thing’s been alive for almost a month now. A new personal record!!!

  11. Two quotes that seem relevant: “Why are we the only species on this planet that have to pay to be here?”,
    ( I despise the effects of Capitalism!),
    and one which was quoted to college kids by Jim Carrey: “Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what is in your heart.” Indeed!

    1. Both great quotes. I think people would do well to really reflect on those thoughts. No one’s dying words are “if only I spent more time at my job”

  12. When I was younger, I wanted to be “successful,” in the traditional sense. And I was: I was the up-and-coming young executive at Fortune-500 company, I had expensive clothes, new cars, a big house. I was on my way.

    Then, at just 26 years old, my wife died suddenly. And just like that, none of that stuff mattered to me at all anymore.

    I grew my hair long, walked off my job without even giving notice, and never looked back. I’ve worked for musicians, for charities, and “anything for a buck.” For years I could fit everything I owned in the trunk of my car, and I wanted it that way. All I really want is enough to get by, and I’ve always managed to do that.

    My priorities now are peace and love. Maybe I can’t spread those to the whole world, but I can take care of the little area around me, and maybe one of these days it will catch on.

    That’s all. That’s enough.

    1. I’m sorry about your wife, but it seems like the life you are now leading is pretty great. Who can argue against spreading peace and love. There isn’t enough of those things in the world these days.

  13. I just completed a post this morning on prioritizing priorities and was planning on posting it this week. Life can so out-of-control busy without even knowing how it got that way.

  14. Nice post. Although money doesn’t equal happiness, it does equal the freedom for you to do what you want in life, and explore your own interest and passions. A lack of money, can inhibit that, and force you to conform to other people’s expectations and pressures. For me happiness is the moment of creativity, when something that didn’t exist suddenly appears from your mind, as if it came from nowhere, somewhere outside of space and time. That’s a thrill that never gets old.

    1. That is the balance of money. You don’t need all the money in the world, but you do need just enough to fulfill basic needs. Beyond that, you can works towards exploring your own interests.

  15. On the topic of my life is people–building meaningful relationships and community. It’s something that I want to focus on, along with writing stories, because that is where I find my true creative self. Thanks for this post 🙂

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