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What’s Most Important in 2023?

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A concept that has had a profound effect of my life (or, more specifically, my way of life) is, ”One Decision That Makes a Thousand.” It comes from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. When you distill your priorities down to a clear and specific intent, that makes future decisions much easier.

Here’s an example of how it looks for me. At the end of 2021, I spent time thinking about the season of life I’m in and what is most important to me *right now.* My dad had just been diagnosed with cancer (“rare and aggressive”). My oldest child had just started college. My youngest child was in first grade. I was 46.

As I considered what I wanted most in life *right now,* I realized that it was all about presence. I wanted to be more present with my parents and more present with my kids. I felt the swift passage of time and realized that there were things I could only do *now,* things I won’t be able to do when my folks are gone or when my kids are grown.

Once I realized this priority in my life, it made so many other decisions for me. I let go of a part-time position that required me to work on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings so that I could be there for dinner and bedtime with my kids, sit with them in church, or go to church with my parents sometimes (my mom played the piano at her church and my dad sang in the choir, and I wanted more opportunities to hear them both).

I started a new job with hours that could be correlated to the school calendar. I also added a standing weekly appointment to go to my parents’ house to sit and have coffee with them. Our weekly coffee dates are the only time I get to spend with my mom and dad without anyone else around, and they have become a highlight of my week. (Theirs, too, I think.) For 26 of my 47 years, I have lived hundreds or thousands of miles away from my parents and only saw them a couple of times each year. The luxury of being able to see them a couple of times a week is a gift, indeed.

When opportunities come along, they get filtered through the question of how they will affect my ability to be present to those who matter most right now, and I find it much easier to exercise “the power of a graceful ‘no.’”

For some folks, the priority right now is to finish school, or get out of debt, or start a new business, or get a promotion. Whatever your top intent is in this season, once you have clarity on that, so many other decisions are already made; you just have to have the courage to say no to anything that does not support your intentions for this season of life.

We can do a lot, but we cannot do it all. We all have the same finite resources of time, money, and energy. Choices have to be made, and too many people make choices reactively instead of proactively. And most of our reactive choices are not aligned with our intentions for life. They are aligned with someone else’s intentions for life.

So with a few more weeks left in 2022, ask yourself: what is most important right now? And how can 2023 be more aligned with what matters most to me in my current season of life?

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