By Victoria Osborn, Contributing Writer
Recently in a women’s discussion group we went around the circle as an ice breaking activity to get to know one another a bit better. The discussion prompt was to share the character trait that is both our greatest strength and our greatest weakness.
Talk about a loaded discussion topic with women you barely knew!
It took me a few minutes to come up with my response but then it came to me, the trait that makes up for the both my strength and weakness.
I’ve been making lists for as long as I can remember. Even as a child I remember writing out lists, copying what my mother did when she sat down at the table with her own notepad. As a teenager I would make lists of what assignments I had to complete and what I needed to pack in my bag for a full day of school and afterschool activities.
In college my list making evolved to a full fledge to-do list, writing down tasks I needed to complete, assignments to work on, books to check out from the library, and so on. My love of planners also bloomed during this season where I had to organize all the thoughts in my head.
List making continued on with me when I became a teacher, which helped to form the horrible habit of creating never ending to-do lists, and then when I became a wife and later a mother.
In fact in these recent years, list making has sort of taken on a whole new level of of crazy.
I am notorious for creating long, elaborate, unrealistic lists of things I need to be doing. I plan out my day in precise detail then I get to work. The only problem?
I have three young children who don’t care about what’s on my to-do list, they just want my attention and they want it right NOW!
I started becoming so frustrated. I had a huge, long lists of never ending tasks that weren’t getting accomplished. Bitterness and resentment begin to boil up in my heart.
If only my kids would cooperate for 5 minutes.
If only I had more time.
My husband sat me down recently, in a loving but firm way he pointed out how joyless I had become. I was walking around barking orders at everyone, being overly frazzled by all I had thought I had to get done, and even though I was around them all day, I was hardly spending any intentional time with my kids.
It was a real eye-opener.
Somewhere along the way I had lost sight of what matters most. I was so consumed with getting everything done that I had lost joy in the simplest of things… the best things.
Right then and there I sat down and reevaluated my priorities. What were the things that truly mattered the most to me? What were the things that sparked joy in my life?
I wrote them out all, in order:
- Developing a deep love for the Lord and His teachings
- Cultivating a rich marriage
- Molding the hearts of my children and enjoying them today
- Creating a haven at home
- Taking care of my wellbeing and my body
- Writing, blogging and growing a small business to help support our family.
I looked over my list and gave it to my husband to look over as well. He pointed out that if these were my priorities then something had to change.
The way I was currently living my life didn’t match up to what I had written out on paper.
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, he was right. The bulk of the things I had placed on my to-do list as things that had to be done, didn’t fall within the first three priorities on my list.
It was another eye opening experience.
Now when I sit down with my trusted to-do list notepad, I also have my priorities (and mission statement) in front of me too. They serve as a reminder to how I am planning out my days, what I’m focusing on, what I’m saying yes to and what I should also be saying no to.
Now my to-do list, and expectations for the day, are much different. Yes, there are still chores around the house and tasks that have to get done but first I’m making sure my heart is filled with God’s truth and grace first by spending time in His Word everyday and I’m also investing into the lives of my husband and children before I set out to tackle the chores, blog related tasks or whatever other errands and tasks I need to complete.
Want to know the obvious change? My kid’s behavior has greatly changed and my husband and I are communicating so much better too!
Of course this is a positive change, and one that should have been obvious to me all along, but it wasn’t because I so consumed with focusing on the things that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Here’s my challenge to you… have you set down recently to evaluate your priorities?
I know it sounds like such a simple thing but have you recently actually written them out?
If not, take a few minutes and do it. Remind yourself of what matters most and what sparks joy in your life. Give yourself the visual reminder of how you are are spending your time and if it matches up to your priorities.
Write them down, refer to them daily, and don’t make a to-do list unless you have your priority list in front of you. It really is a heart transformative process to focus on making time for the best things.
Let’s keep each other accountable, what is your list of priorities? Share them in the comment section below.
If you have been struggling identifying what matters most and spending your time not really accomplishing anything of value, I would love to invite you to check out my brand new goal planning system Goals with Grace.
In it I walk beside you on the journey of identifying your priorities, creating a personal mission statement then creating goals that align to your priorities allowing you to make the time for things that matter most, the best things.
Best of all, for all of you fellow busy Mamas, there is an audio recording version to listen too at your convenience and video tutorials walking you through the entire process!
Plus there is a bonus action planner, the part I’m super excited about, to help you make a plan and use your time and days the most intentionally.