In the past year and a half, my life has changed dramatically. Between Mountain Dog Diet, traveling internationally, increased writing opportunities and increased time with clients, my time has become much more accounted for. More than anything else, my personal responsibilities have continuously increased, and it has become apparent to me how important it is to maintain the quality of work as the quantity of work increases. I've also realized that for all the modern talk about “life hacking,” there isn't any substitute for experiential work.
You can't accelerate time. You can accelerate learning but not time. Despite these things, I still don't feel that I'm in any way doing "enough" nor do I feel that I've maximized my capabilities. I'm never too busy to not keep improving. And as always, I have a reason for sharing this, as it gives me context to the following question: Are your priorities your intentions or are they your actions?
Your Actions Are Your Priorities
When I consider priorities, I consider those things that are, to say it simply, important for me to do. Priorities are much akin to responsibilities. They are the things that I must take action on. And so I do, day in and day out, all as part of an ongoing process.
With that in mind, there is a common scenario that I've encountered again and again with clients as well as friends that always leaves me somewhat baffled. It's a common pattern distilled down to a single statement: "I'm so busy."
This has many variations. People can barely have time because they are so busy. They neglect all their personal relationships because they are so busy. Their health suffers because of how busy they are.
Are your priorities your intentions or are they your actions?
Now, the cruel irony is that if you ask someone if his health, family, loved ones, business and hobbies are even important to him, it's almost always a yes, yes and yes answer. If you explicitly ask, "Is your health for your business or family important?" you probably won't get "hell no" for an answer. Yet this person takes action on none of these things, or he acts on them only as much as needed to keep them from falling apart.
It would seem then that this person's supposed priorities aren't priorities at all. His priorities are his hypocrisies, merely good intentions that are never acted upon. And this spurs me to question further: If someone's life is so busy, why is he never busy doing the things that he says matter to him? To rephrase that to the initial point, where is the divide between your priorities and your actions?
Being busy has a certain sense of hypocrisy to it. I've known many people who have seemingly created a vastly “busy” life in which their time is constantly demanded, but somehow their life is barely kept together. At the same time, despite the constant busy state, they never reach a point in which they "have the time" to spend on the things that they say are important.
This then begs yet another question: If you're busy on so many things, why are so many parts of your life working against each other? I know that I keep begging questions, but I ask these questions to illustrate what I feel is the source of the hypocrisy. Intentions in and of themselves don't mean anything. They are just well formed that haven't been acted on.
So to Change Then Means What?
It lies with what we take action in. Period. While I'm not one to often describe things in absolute terms, this is one matter that I feel falls into fairly clear yes/no lines.
If someone's life is so busy, why is he never busy doing the things that he says matter to him?
Your actions are ultimately what create your life. And your inactions as well. As I said before, your life can be all different parts against you or it can be all of these things working for you. But as I've said before as well, I don't have any specific set of "steps" that I can say "do this" and solve the problem. I can only point out the awareness.
Power lies in what you put action into. Your priorities/actions are what have the power in your life. If you're continuously trying to hold together a broken down palace, it's unlikely that you'll feel empowered to actually change anything. You will forever be "too busy," and your life will exist at that tipping point of your will to control it. Something inevitably breaks down in such cases. It might be health, it might be relationships or it might be business. We're unmade by all the things that we've neglected. Those intentions suddenly become massive priorities that have to be acted on because it's either take action or perish. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't, but I doubt anyone would say that being forced to change out of desperation is the best way to go about anything. So what's the better way?
Act now on something, something that's been an intention, that you keep telling yourself is important. Take the action, regardless of how small it is, and start repeating it. Everything major starts as something minor in the beginning. Process comes first.
Make the small change because you can choose to, not because you're forced to. Take the intention from hypocrisy to action. Do what you know you need to do. And I'll be damned, don't say that you're "too busy" to do this.