Your Call: Urgent or Important?

“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.” ~ Dallin H. Oaks

Rarely do I jump on bandwagons. In economic theory (and more specific to financial markets), the act of doing what everyone else is doing and foregoing requisite thought or analysis is called rational herd behavior. But with this opening video, an impending Super Bowl commercial that has been viewed by 19+ million in two days, I am jumping on the viral bandwagon. Why? Because it makes me feel good and it actually has a message for we humans.

Yes the video is light-hearted. It also infers connection and perseverance – attributes that add value to our lives. While we cannot eliminate everything unpleasant from our lives, we are going to be more likely to focus on things that make us feel good and we enjoy doing. So when we feel overwhelmed with all that we are doing, examining our motivation for taking on so many obligations can help us understand why we feel compelled to do so much; why we feel unhappy.

One thing that can cause feelings of being overwhelmed and off balance is that you are not living by your priorities. You may be living on auto-pilot. Or you may be doing things that you were “supposed” to do, as determined by others. To restore equilibrium to your feelings, and start to regain some balance in life, you may need to revisit your priorities. Case in point: If you spent eight hours working at a job you dislike, that job is still your priority. If this is fine with you then you are doing okay. But if you spend time wishing you had a more fulfilling _________, then it is time to think about your priorities.

If determining your priorities seems difficult and you still feel pressed to take on more, try imagining how each new commitment will impact your life before saying yes. And if you are open to suggested actions in support of setting and keeping your priorities, here are three:

  1. How would you like to live your life? Write down all the things that are truly important to you, the things that ten years from now will make you proud. Now is not the time to worry whether what you are writing down is feasible or not. If you write down ten or more things, you are probably mixing the urgent with the important. The important cannot be more than four or five things.
  2. Reward yourself.  It is important to reward yourself for setting priorities and following through. If you’ve achieved a milestone towards a priority, don’t just cross it off your list and move on to the next thing. Create time to reward yourself for a job well done.
  3. Get wise counsel. Be open to engaging others but keep in mind that wise counsel comes only from wise people. It is imprudent to seek the counsel of someone who will just agree with you. Often the best advice is contrary to your own desires.

23 thoughts on “Your Call: Urgent or Important?

  1. Watched the video Eric. So enjoyed it. It certainly made me feel good. I think revisiting your priorities is like keeping your eyes on a compass. Great post Eric and once again I love those little practical hints you give at the end of your posts.

    • Celebrating/rewarding is too often overlooked. Many people just tend to plow right into the next ‘whatever.’ We deserve to acknowledge ourselves and to your comment, Yatin, it does lend to a more enjoyable journey.

  2. I have a friend that I need to uncommit a project we’re to do together. I don’t know how I got caught up. After getting off the phone and immediately regretting the decision, I felt overwhelmed. Even during the conversation, I felt like it was too much. Sometimes, being in conversation with her is like being hit by a tornado.

    • I suspect many of us have those friends who we sometimes find it difficult to say no to. I can’t say I’ve ever encountered the “tornado” effect but I can sense the impact that it has on you. Kudos for considering ‘uncommitting.’

  3. I think balance in life is an inner thing. Your life can get too full but you can still feel balanced if you are right with yourself. Long ago before most of us were born, people worked 6 days each week. Additionally, the work hours were more too. Yet most people back then still showed good humor and were kind to each other.

    • I think the challenge in the Venn diagram is to ‘savor the sweet spot’ – the attainable convergence. Hope you enjoyed watching by beloved Seahawks impress beyond what many believed they would. 🙂 And the commercials, too!

  4. “You may be living on auto-pilot” beautifully spoken. I never thought that we actually support this way of life. Enjoyed the insightfulness of this post much…and this is why I love your site. Thanks Eric.

  5. Eric, this is here-and-now, and I hope I can process this a bit more along with a book I am continuing to read, about intentional thoughts and screening out those persistent negative thoughts. I like your words, here: “One thing that can cause feelings of being overwhelmed … off balance is … not living by your priorities … you may be doing things that you were “supposed” to do, as determined by others.” Bravo. Peace, T

    • Most of us (I believe) do this, Tim. In our desire/quest to help and please others, we (often over-) commit ourselves… at the cost of our own dreams and goals. It sounds as though you have a good read on your hands. Try not to get too deep with the processing. 🙂

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