Learning to Prioritize: A Note to Self
When you’re like me, there are at least five different things, at any given time, that you’d LIKE to sink your teeth in to. At this very moment, literally, this very moment, there are exactly five things I want to be doing.
1) Studying for the GMAT
2) Studying Mandarin
3) Working out
4) Writing (which I, technically, am doing)
5) Sewing (or at least trying to put together the puzzle that is my new, very used, industrial machine)
One child is out on a daddy-date, the other sleeping sick by my side. SO, theoretically, I have some much-coveted free time on my hands.
Now let’s dissect the word LIKE. The key element behind the word LIKE is that because there are SO many things to do, my brain decides that too many things actually cancel themselves out, leaving me reading the New York Times, or basically ANYTHING that is NOT on my list. I think it’s something similar to procrastination. I’d LIKE to be doing, but I’m overwhelmed, so I’m just thinking about doing. Like when you were in college and you’d end up watching an entire season of Sex and the City, instead of studying for finals. Or when you’re moving and the packing feels like it’s going to implode on you, so you end up going for a walk instead.
It’s not exactly procrastination though, I think that it is the brain’s defense mechanism against feeling overwhelmed. TOO many things to do self? That’s okay, let’s just not do ANY of them and then we won’t have to feel overwhelmed. I don’t have the time to full heartedly do EVERYTHING, so let’s just not half-ass any of them. It’s my brain’s fault, not mine. Damn brain.
But this is where you pull a fast one on your brain. A little word called P R I O R I T I Z A T I O N is employed. Break it down by task, make the vastness smaller, and tackle slowly.
Find the LARGEST wall calendar you can and give yourself a daily goal. A daily task to tackle. And not all five. Just ONE. Maybe TWO. But NEVER five.
My daily hopes (LIKES, if you will) are most often somehow, directly and indirectly, connected to the current overarching question in my life: how to create a career with two young kids and remain flexible enough that we can take off and travel when my old man has the time.
When I was pregnant with our first, I listened to an NPR show where there was a woman who was speaking about the effect her children had on her career. She spoke about her fear that having children would derail her from her path and her surprise that they only made her path more clear. Now, I didn’t exactly have a career at that point, but knew how utterly important it was for me in the future (I had actually deferred acceptance into law school for a year and was planning to enroll the following year); a fear that was real and terrifying for me. But I listened to her words with hope that I too would speak them someday.
Fast forward 5 years, and I’m definitely not yet singing that sweet tune. I am, perhaps, more lost than ever, as ever relates to my career self (read here for more clarity). As I approach 30, time feels like it’s barreling forward and I’m left behind trying to catch up. I want so deeply, to speak of how my children helped positively sculpt my career.
Here I am, left with 3 million interests, trying to find the time to pursue them.
Life’s a journey and as long as you keep walking, you’ll get to where you’re meant to be, right? My children ARE teaching me how to PRIORITIZE and how I can have everything, but perhaps not at the same time. I need to be patient. I need to take it one goal at a time.
And so, a note to my self: it’s OKAY. chill. alright? just chill. take it one day at a time, put one foot in front of the other. week by week, set goals. define a daily task and stick to it. work when you’ve set out time to work and be in the moment, with your kids, when it’s time to just be.
Buena suerte, self.