Priorities

‘You have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé’

Do you remember this meme? It was really popular a few years ago (at the time I was working in a female dominated environment and as Beyoncé was basically *the* icon of female empowerment, I heard this quoted a lot!). It popped into my head recently on a day when I noticed myself slipping into a thought spiral of ‘I should’ve done this already, I could’ve found the time if I tried harder’.

Back then I almost always heard the quote in a context of self-chastisement, as in I have no excuse for not doing xyz, look at what Beyoncé achieves every day. I used to think this meme was simply driving an unrealistic comparison, like an extreme version of social media vs real life, but when I thought about it the other day it occurred to me that maybe it came down to priorities…

Over the past few months, I’ve been on a yoga teacher training course and between working, studying and the winter lockdown I hadn’t found the creative inspiration or time to write new blog posts, which led to me feeling guilty and kickstarted my shoulda-woulda-coulda thought spiral. But as I started giving myself a hard time for not keeping on top of blogging, my coaching brain jumped in saying ’it’s just not a priority right now’ and as soon as I acknowledged that, the guilt dissipated.

Priorities and time are intrinsically linked – going back to the meme, it’s true that every person in the world has the same 24 hours each day and priorities play a huge part in how those hours are spent. Of course, circumstances and resources are a factor but where there’s a choice, it’s likely to come down to the thing that is more important.

In some cases, such as mine, the priority is short term and/or has a clear timescale. My studying had a fixed end point, so it was easy to make a plan to get back on track with blogging once it had finished, but what about those big things that fight for time and importance?

The first thing that springs to mind for me is an old-fashioned pair of balance scales, with each side holding an idea or area of life. While they are balanced both sides are of equal importance, but at any time the scales can tip and one side becomes the priority. An example – when I embarked on a career change to coaching and started the training, it happened to coincide with a fairly new relationship (the classic career vs love!). Both were equally important and most of the time the scales were balanced, but over the next few years there would be periods when they tipped in favour of one or the other.

An important consideration is consequence – what does life look like in 2 years time? 5 years? 10? Is your current priority leading you to the point you want to be at or is it taking you completely off track? Of course, life rarely moves in a linear way and sometimes things crop up or there’s a bit of a detour but identifying the things that are important and making time for them is key. Day to day choices shape the way life turns out because days slip into weeks, then months, then years.

And if, like me, you get the odd pang of guilt, acknowledge it and ask if it’s trying to tell you something. Maybe it’s an indication the scales are getting too far out of balance or it might just be time for a gentle reminder that for the moment something else is the priority.

You have 24 hours today, but you also have 24 hours tomorrow and the day after and so on. The question is: what’s your priority in choosing the best way to use them?