Monday Motivation: Cut The Fat, Get To Work

One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned over these last four years is the power of being honest with yourself about your priorities. At a small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere, it can get easy for many of us to get the “busy syndrome”. But at the end of the day, when you look back on your week, month, year, life, will you be satisfied with how you spent your time?

You will, if you believe you’ve dedicated the most time to the things that you actually care about. And you’ll probably feel miserable if you find yourself spending all your time and energy on things that are secretly much lower on your priority list than you let on. 

The word “no” is magic. When you say no to numbers four, five, six, and seven on that list, you can go all in on numbers one through three. Sure, this is an oversimplification--there are many things we don’t enjoy but should probably do (laundry, taxes, fafsa, cooking dinner). But there are other things we do, not because we intrinsically want to or because we must, but because of how cool or smart or whatever they make us look. 

My first year of college, I declared that I would major in psychology, minor in music, and concentrate in legal studies. Yes, I was interested in all of those subjects. But I was more interested in the ambition of it all than I was in actually fulfilling all the academic requirements that came with that. I’ve taken on leadership roles for leadership roles’ sake, only to bang my head on the wall a month later, asking myself what I was thinking.

The head banging happens because I know that these trivial things aren’t what I care about most. They aren’t my deep priorities. They don't reflect the things I truly value.

We all tend to place surface-level desires over our deep priorities from time to time. For the busy college student, sometimes that’s taking on roles and responsibilities you don’t care for as much as you initially thought. For the parent, that may be prioritizing how happy and put together the family looks, instead of focusing on how healthy the family actually is, regardless of how weird or dysfunctional it may seem to everyone else. 

When you over-invest your time in trying to prove your worth or ability or specialness, you lose out on so much time that could be spent actually doing the things you enjoy. 

What things do you enjoy doing, regardless of what the outside world is doing or saying about it? Shift the weight of your energy and time onto that. The world could be crumbling, and I’d still be writing poems and breathing music

If you died today, what would you care about more: that you impressed Sally with your new fancy whatever or that you did good work that you cared about and touched people’s hearts along the way?

Cut off the fat so you can really get to work.