In the previous post I suggested a few questions you might like to ask yourself as part of a bigger process of making the next twelve months more satisfying. If you haven't answered those, it could be a good idea to do that now...
OK, now let's take one big look backward at the last twelve months. If that brings up some disappointment (as it does for me), don't let it get you down. We're doing this in order to be better able to move forward.
What took up most of your free time this past year? You can leave out eating, sleeping (unless you're averaging more than 9 hours a night), showering, etc. Of course you won't know exactly how much time each of your main activities took but you can take a guess and list the top half dozen or so in order. Don't forget about watching TV, surfing the net, excercising, reading, chatting online or on the phone or in person, any hobbies etc.
For most people, no more than half a dozen activities account for at least 80% of their free time.
Only when you've made this list move on to the other question...no cheating!
Ready? OK, now list in order the half dozen or so things you consider most important in life. These might include being fit and healthy, being a good spouse/partner/parent/sibling/expressing yourself creatively, making a contribution to your community--but stick to what's important to you, not what others think you should consider important.
Don't go on until you've made that list...
OK, now I'd like you to look at the list of things that are most important to you. No, not the second list. That one is kind of a wish list. It's the first list, the one that reveals what we ACTUALLY spend our time on, that reveals our true priorities.
Sometimes the results are rather shocking (and a reason perhaps to keep this a exercise private!):
What if there isn't much of a match?
If the mis-match doesn't bother you, carry on as you have been. Happy New Year, our work is done!
However, if the mis-match does bother you, have have a choice:
1: Give up some of the values on the second list. Maybe they're only things other people tell you are what you should value. For instance, maybe you keep telling yourself that you'll donate some time to community charities but you never do. Maybe that's not your road. Maybe your contribution will be something you write, or a friendship that helps someone steer through the rougher spots of their life. Forget about feeling vaguely guilty and cluttering up your list with things that don't fit you.
2: Change your behaviour so it more closely matches the things you say you value but that you've been starving of time and attention. That will require looking at what's in the way. Often it's old habits. Sometimes it's fear of failure or fear of success.
One thing is sure--in order to do more of what you haven't been doing, you'll have to do less of what you have been doing. That's not always easy but often its worth the effort.
So..food for thought! I'm mulling over the implications of my own lists...and in the next post we'll take a look at how we can move forward if we choose to.