as we begin to better understand ourselves and pay attention to what we truly need, new priorities will become apparent. self-care is becoming the foundational priority for us all on this journey, but prioritizing well is an act of self-care in and of itself.
prioritizing is the process of stripping away what keeps us from reaching our goals while creating space, time, and energy for the things that move us towards them. priorities can and should change every day. they should be specific and attainable. they should maintain balance between inward goals and outward goals. most importantly, we shouldn't have too many priorities at any given time.
my mother taught me a perfect little trick for learning how to arrange and prioritize my life--
step one: draw a square.
step two: divide the square into 3 even sections-- first lengthwise, then widthwise
step three: admire a lovely tic-tac-toe board with 9 small squares
step four: use the center square and the four squares that touch its sides to house your most pressing priorities
step five: use the remaining four corner squares to place your secondary priorities
step six: that's it. you're done. you cannot dedicate yourself to more than nine things at once and expect quality, fulfilling results.
on sunday i usually write out my priorities in this way, knowing that the hierarchy will fluctuate a little day to day. my little boards keep me on track and hold me accountable. this week i was getting over a nasty throat infection, so my priorities have been in healing, nourishing, and resting my body. i also have been feeling like i've been wearing myself too thin, so space and communication-- specifically saying no and communicating my needs-- were also important priorities this week. work, play, sweat, and relationships are usually in my four corners. work balances with play, sweating is always essential for me to function and thrive in other aspects of my life, as is turning attention to my relationships with my family and friends. this board is simple-- it might even be redundant-- but it gives me a big visual cue to turn away from everything that's not on it. it's like i actively give myself permission to dismiss what's nonessential. make your own priority board-- what will you choose to put on it?
when we make time to prioritize we end up holding ourselves more accountable for the time and energy we spend in a day. prioritizing makes it easier to see how sacred our choices really are. it also helps show us what our own values are-- what truly matters. with enough practice in mindful prioritizing we begin to see patterns in our own choices and values. we may see unhealthy patterns in where our choices and our values don't match up, but then we can learn to reallign.
since we can only choose 9 priorities, we might have to make some hard decisions and keep important, meaningful things off of our boards. this is crucial, however. you'll find that in letting go of what's less important to you, you will be unburdened and free to develop what is truly important in ways deeper than you ever could have before. quality, not quantity, keeps popping up in all aspects of self-care. what lesser priorities are you letting go of?
next week we'll focus on patience as it relates to self-care.