Priorities not Resolutions

“Spend all of your time on those things you value most — on those things which you believe go beyond the here-and-now. The more time you can spend on things you believe to be of infinite worth, the more powerful your daily life and behavior will be.”  Benjamin Hardy

Making changes in one’s life is difficult. It is hard to push through even a single change; we are creatures of habit. We like the predictability of knowing what is going to happen next in our lives. Changes are fought tooth and nail. We want things to stay the same. That’s why New Year’s resolutions don’t work: the energy required to make the change is far more than we are willing and sometimes able to give.

Resolutions often fail because we have not really ‘resolved’ to do anything. We have made a decision to, for example, lose weight, but have not made specific plans for how that is going to come about. When a strong temptation comes, we easily slip up and try that left over fruit cake or chocolate. And once you slip, it seems to be human nature accept the failure and fall back onto one’s old ways. Where was the decision? Where did the resolve go?

Priorities are different than resolutions. A true priority is something that is extremely important to you and that you will strive to work toward come what may and regardless of single actions. A priority is based on what you value. A priority comes before anything else. By definition then we have few priorities; just a few things that we hold above other things in importance.

“Priorities are the most fundamental and powerful thing in your life–they reflect your values and goals.”  Benjamin Hardy

If I choose to make a healthy body a priority in my life, then I don’t need to make a resolution: I do those things which will create a healthy body. I will ask how I can achieve this healthy body. I will read about it. I will make decisions about food, exercise and activities that will work toward this priority. I will measure the changes until I achieve that healthy body and I will continue to maintain it. Along the way I will have learned and applied much about this priority. I’ll be less likely to skip exercise or eat food that conflicts with my priority.

A number of years ago I made recovery a priority in my life. It still is a priority. Am I perfect at it? No. And I still work on it in all parts of my life. These past few months I have made writing a priority. So I am doing all the things that make writing an integral part of my life. I am learning about techniques, I am part of a writers’ group. I believe that writing is important for me so I write something everyday.

I choose my priorties in life. I don’t give that option to anyone else. I strive to spend a lot of my time writing. Am I always successful? No. But it is a priority so if I fall short I can pick myself up and move forward.

This year, don’t make resolutions. Why not take the time to do some reflection and decide what your priorities in life really are. When you know ‘who’ you want to be and ‘why’ you want to be that way, then the ‘how’ of achieving it will naturally follow.

Happy New Year!

Read Benjamin Hardy’s full article here: 30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable

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Stepping Out

Caution is natural, but fear is not. Do not give into fear, yet do not abandon caution. It is a balancing act. Caution is what causes you to look both ways before crossing the street. Fear is what keeps you frozen on the curb forever. You know the difference. You can feel it.          Neale Donald Walsch

I have wanted to write from a young age. I remember in my early twenties I wanted to write the great Canadian novel, be the next Mordecai Richler or Margaret Atwood. I did not and, therefore, am not. I made a few feeble attempts at writing over the years, but became involved in other things and pushed writing aside. Well over thirty years have passed and I am still standing on the side of the road looking longingly over to the other side.

I got my PhD in making up excuses. I can say the time isn’t right. I don’t have the time. I am waiting for the right inspiration or the muse to come to get me to write. Tomorrow I will start. And of course, I do nothing. And with the passing of years there is always another excuse for putting things off, to the point where it seems it was a youthful dream that was never to be fulfilled in the first place. Only it’s still there.

I am unmoved on one side of the street not because I am cautious but because I am fearful. I keep looking both ways and even if there is no traffic, I look again and don’t take the first step. What are those fears? Fear of failure, fear that I am not good enough, fear that people won’t like it or like me. There are so many fears that keep my from embarking on this journey including the fear that I may even be successful.

Over the past 18 months I have been pushing my fears aside and sharing myself, my thoughts and my feeling in this blog. It is a slow beginning but it is a step to crossing that road to the other side. This morning I sent out a submission of a short story I have been working on. Will it be accepted and published? I don’t know. I am coming to terms with my fears. I see fear as a bad habit that I want to overcome if I want to move forward.

I am learning to step forward in trust; trust in myself and my abilities. If blog writing has taught me anything it is that I do have a talent for putting words together that can touch people and that my experience and thoughts are those shared by many others. I don’t think that my life is by any means exemplary, I’m just another guy who is actively seeking my truth and looking for answers. And my answer this week is that I need to walk forward and cross the street.

I have committed myself to continue writing my blog for the next year. It helps to keep me grounded and working my recovery program. I believe in my own program of Search, Learn, Grow, Share and Repeat. I have a couple of creative writing projects to move forward on. Perhaps you have a few things that you are wishing to try but are have been standing at the side of the road for as many years as I have. We are not alone. I am beginning to cross the road. Why don’t we walk together.

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Limiting Distractions

As I was going over some of my writing from last week when I was away, I saw in the space at the top of one page I had written: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction. I can choose what’s important for me.” To be honest, I don’t remember writing it. It’s in the middle of five pages of script. I’ve been reading a lot of material lately with respect to self improvement, so it probably stems from there. And it has caught my attention over and over again in the past couple of days: “Most of what’s happening around me isn’t important, it’s a distraction.”

I was reminded of the 80-20 rule which basically says that 80 percent of the time I am involved in things that aren’t important to me and it’s only the things I do during about 20 percent of my time that help me move forward. The idea with eliminating distractions is to change the percentages more toward more of what is giving me results. Over the past couple of months I’ve been learning what my distractions are and changing my habits.

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Probably the biggest distraction and time waster for me is my cell phone. How many times a day do I pick that up to check on something? Sure it’s handy, but it is also a tool and not a master that must be attended to every time it beeps and chimes. I eliminated a bunch of apps that are a distraction. And in the morning I leave my cell on the night stand until I have finished my morning meditation, journal writing and walking the dogs. There is just so little that has to be dealt with right as soon as I get up.

Another distraction I have been whittling down: Facebook. I can waste hours going through stroking egos by giving likes to notifications and videos, and making comments. Again, Facebook or other social media isn’t the culprit, it’s the time and attention that I lavish on what is mostly a distraction. Netflix is another distraction for me, especially a series. No longer do I have to ‘tune in next week on the same channel’ to find out what happens next. I don’t even have to click; automatically it opens the next episode. Before I know it, I’m investing another 42 minutes into it. I’ve limited the amount of news I read daily. I choose the videos I watch on Youtube, I stay away from Instagram and Twitter. So what has happened as a result of my limiting my ‘screen time’?

I have written more in the last two months than I have ever written before. Little of it is publishable, nor would I want it to be. But, if I want to call myself a writer, then I have to write. I am reading some of the classics of literature that somehow I failed to read in the past. I am organizing my home to be more conducive to writing and my other goals, including moving my desk to a more pleasant place. I’ve joined the gym again and work out regularly. And I am organizing my priorities. I am working on increasing the 20 percent: focusing on the areas where I wish to grow. I’m creating large windows of time in my day by eliminating distractions and focusing on what is most important for me.

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