Prioritize what you want to keep.
Such a simple concept that can really be as easy as it sounds, with some practice.
Many of us run into issues related to priorities. How do we know if we are prioritizing the things that are most important to us? What do we do about pressure we feel from our peers, family, society, past versions of ourselves when it comes to priorities? Is what we describe as our priority really a priority if we are doing something different? The list goes on.
I’m writing this post after my “should”ing on yourself post on purpose. It comes after a discussion of living healthfully for a reason. If you find yourself continuing to fall into the “shouldas” and wondering why you’re not fulfilling your goals of a more healthful life, perhaps it is time to evaluate your priorities.
Please be aware that I am using the term prioritize, priorities, etc. with absolutely no judgment of your personal choices, needs, preferences, or desires. If you would much rather go out with friends on a Friday night and live it up than get up early Saturday morning for that Pilates class you keep talking about, that will show in your behavior and is completely up to you! You would be prioritizing your social connections over exercise in this situation and social connections would show up as your priority. What we can evaluate, perhaps, is what causes you to feel the need to talk about that Pilates class if it is not a priority or an activity that truly fits your needs.
If we make the intentional, conscious decision to prioritize something we will see its benefits and its consequences. Whatever we prioritize will show in our behaviors and follow through. Hence, making the things we want to keep a true priority verbally and behaviorally. In the example above, this person chose their social connections over exercise in the morning. They are going to maintain those relationships more easily than their physical fitness and that’s where their priorities lie.
Imagine, however, a circumstance where one partner, Pat, describes the relationship Pat has with partner B, Jamie, as a major priority, but does not follow through with things Jaimie values highly. What is Pat showing Jaimie? It might be easy for Jaimie to conclude that Pat does not care as much about Jaimie as Pat claims. Would Pat have a reasonable argument otherwise?
If you want to get straight A’s in school, you have to study. If you want to maintain good communication in your marriage you must work on it. Want a successful career? Focus on your work and what it takes for you to excel.
Now we get to the tricky part. What if some of our priorities contradict other priorities? We are not one dimensional beings, we cannot thrive in our lives if all we do is work/go to school/stare at our partner adoringly. Sometimes a work engagement will come at the same time as an important date with our spouse. Maybe a school project will be due around the same time as our best friend’s birthday. What do we put first? How do we make clear to those around us that they are a priority even if we have obligations to other priorities?
This is where counseling can help. It is not for any counselor to say what “should” be your priority. It is my job as a counselor to assist you in evaluating where your priorities lie, how you can show that to the world and your loved ones consistently, how to balance said priorities, and how to communicate effectively when priorities need to be shuffled around. No judgment, no pressure, just problem solving and support.
Imagine being comfortable with all of your priorities, how you engage each of them, and how you communicate these priorities with others. Imagine the relief you can feel from a reality where you keep the things that are truly important to you. You can and counseling can help
Corinne M. Sisti, LPC is the owner and operator of Sisti Counseling Services.