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You are your priorities

You are your priorities

Looking at my planner (one of the things that I simply refuse to convert to digital), you can tell what’s important to me: yoga classes are written in with precise times and locations, at least one night a month is reserved for girls’ night with my three closest friends in the city, an easily decipherable mish-mash of airport codes and numbers for travel plans, specific time set aside for dinner, drinks, “reading dates” with my boyfriend.

My iCal on my home computer holds a loose schedule for upcoming posts (although publish dates and ideas are moved around practically on a daily basis); Google Calendar on my work computer contains meeting invites, deadlines, ongoing project items. I live according to my calendars, and so I try to make sure that I schedule in time for ALL of the things that are important to me: a yoga class holds the same weight as a coffee meeting with a friend as a weekly check-in with my boss. Being healthy, happy and successful are intricately woven in my life: I want to be all of those things, but not at the sacrifice of one for the other.

Back in 2012, I wrote a post on a few of the life lessons I’d learned: Because it’s commencement speech season is still such a good container for so many of the things I try to live by. It was inspired by a piece in The Wall Street Journal by Charles Wheelan, and there is one quote that I still reference three years later:

Don’t model your life after a circus animal. Performing animals do tricks because their trainers throw them peanuts or small fish for doing so. You should aspire to do better. You will be a friend, a parent, a coach, an employee—and so on. But only in your job will you be explicitly evaluated and rewarded for your performance. Don’t let your life decisions be distorted by the fact that your boss is the only one tossing you peanuts. If you leave a work task undone in order to meet a friend for dinner, then you are “shirking” your work. But it’s also true that if you cancel dinner to finish your work, then you are shirking your friendship. That’s just not how we usually think of it.” 

Yoga teacher training is constantly asking for more of us: more time, more effort, more focus. It tells us to schedule a home yoga practice and a daily meditation practice, to practice our chants and incorporate deep breathing, to become not only vegetarian but also conscious of where our food comes from. If my life felt full before, it’s overflowing now.

But the greatest lesson that I’ve learned is about recognizing what is a priority for me. There are some days when it’s going to a yoga class, but there are other nights when I just need to curl up on the couch with a magazine. I recognize how good I feel when I wake up before my alarm clock and meditate, but sometimes I still just really, really want to sleep in another 15 minutes. If I’m happy drinking green juice and making salads for lunch 95% of the time, I’m not going to beat myself up when I indulge in a greasy cheeseburger after craving it all day.

I want to be an authentic yoga teacher and a dedicated employee–but before I am those things, I’m a daughter, a friend, a girlfriend, a roommate. For the past few months, I’ve had to shift my priorities away from my relationships in order to focus on YTT, work, this blog. But the last thing I want to do is shirk those relationship duties: you can always make more money and you can always have more things, but you can’t always replace the really good people.

  • Kristin

    I think that’s one of the best things I’ve learned as I grow older…realizing what my priorities are and focusing on them! Taking care of myself is important for me but the others in my life, but there’s a fine line between this and becoming selfish with my time. Such a great life lesson!

  • Isabel

    Such a great post! I also love the functionality and feel of a paper planner-which one do you use?

  • My moleskine planner is pretty much my lifeline for everything in my life: work, friends, appointments, songs I heard and want to remember, etc. And it’s kelly green, which also makes it pretty fabulous.

  • Great point – in college I often got so wrapped up in extracurricular activities (resume building) that I didn’t prioritize my time with girlfriends. Although college was undoubtedly the most fun experience of my life, i wish I would’ve dedicated a bit more time just to relax and enjoy the company of the people I love.

  • I watched JD Roth’s talk at WDS 2011 (or was it 2012?) the other day and one of the things he talked about was priorities. He used as an example a story that I’m sure I (and probably many others) had heard before, but which only resonated with me now since I feel like my life is overflowing. The story starts with a jar, some rocks, and some sand. The test is to fit all the sand and rocks in the jar. If you put all the sand in first (all the things that aren’t priorities in your life), there’s not enough room to fit the rocks (your priorities). If, however, you put the rocks in first and then pour the sand in, everything fits. The non-priorities fill the spaces around the priorities. A-ha!

    So now I’m trying to define my priorities and make sure to treat them that way. [Although it can be kinda hard with three dogs in the house now to treat housework like a non-priority. :)] I tried Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map planner to help me get things in line, but the format hasn’t worked for me as well as I would have liked. I really like the Moleskine monthly planner so I will probably go back to that.

  • Apolline

    Thank you for this inspiring and awesome article! I’m always struggling to figure out what I should do and who/what should be a priority. This is exactly what I needed to read and I’m pretty moved right now. Thanks! Keep being so inspiring 🙂

  • camorose

    And sometimes–I don’t think being selfish with your time is such a terrible thing!

  • camorose

    I have a Moleskine agenda which is okay but not my favorite ever. Still searching for the best!

  • camorose

    Yes! I love that. I have a red Moleskine one–I don’t LOVE the color, but it does make it easy to find it in my bag!

  • camorose

    SAME.

  • camorose

    Yes! I have heard that story before, and I love it. So, so key. And hey–I think we choose our priorities according to us. One of my priorities is keeping my house straightened too–because I can’t get any work done if it’s not!

  • camorose

    Merci, Apolline! I’m sure you’re exactly where you need to be 🙂

  • kmmunoz

    I always love these introspective posts. I’ve been working on figuring out these balances myself, and not beating myself up for wanting to turn down an invitation to spend enjoy some “me” time or something.

    And I love that you haven’t converted to a digital planner; I’m a pretty tech-y person, but I refuse to make the switch! I still use a cheapo student planner from Staple’s, but the layout just works for me! It’s got a monthly view and then a pretty substantial daily space. I use it to record everything from what workout I did to doctor’s appts to dates. I’ve had one since I was about 18, and a decade later, it’s fun going back and seeing what I was doing day to day. 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes! I feel like I remember things better once I’ve written it down–I ALWAYS forget about plans made via Google Cal!

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