How much stuff to you have to do in a day?
In asking myself that question, I came up with the following list of things I have to do each day:
Do my hair
Brush my teeth
Do my makeup
Drink a bottle of Spark
Feed Juno her breakfast
Drive to work
Check in with maintenance
Work, work, work. WORK
Eat lunch - quickly
Drive home from work
Feed Juno her dinner
Do my squats
Clean the kitchen
Make my bed
Make breakfast and lunch for tomorrow
Brush my teeth
Wash my face
Go to bed
Watch whatever is on the DVR til I fall asleep
And then of course, there are the things I have to do sometimes, not every day, like running errands and grocery shopping. The point is, everyone has a lot of stuff to do in a day; there's lots of things we have to do.
But at what point do you sacrifice what you have to do, for what you need to do?
What I mean is, at what point do you stop and open your eyes to the people in your life who may need something from you? How often do you tell someone you care about that you don't have time for them? How often do you tell someone important that you're busy, that you have too many things you have to get done, that you can't make a moment of time for them right now?
And on the flip side, how often do you drop everything you have to get done in the day, to devote your full attention to someone you care about? How often do you reach out to someone important to you, before they ask, and offer to put aside what you have to do, in order to be with them? When you get to Sunday evening and you're thinking about the week, how many times did you make someone else your priority? How many times did you reach out and make sure that someone important to you, is well aware of how important they really are?
We're all guilty of it; of letting our relationships fall by the wayside because of the daily shit we think we have to get done. But have you ever wondered what it feels like to be the person who is being told that grocery shopping is more important to you than they are? What it might feel like to have someone you really care about tell you that they're too busy to make time for you because they have to shop for work clothes or catch up on Teen Mom?
There will always be a long list of things you have to get done. No one's life is ever just all tied up in a bow, put together completely, without any obligation or requirement. That's not how the world works. There will always be a daily to do list; we'll always have today's list that turns into a longer list for tomorrow if we don't get our shit done. But more importantly, there will always be people in our lives who need us. There will always be a friend who got dumped; there will always be a buddy who needs a ride home when they're too drunk to drive. Someone will need you to care, will need you to make them a priority instead of an option. Are you the type of person who prioritizes what you have to do, or the type of person who prioritizes what you need to do?
Ask yourself what it is that you need to do.
When I asked that of myself, I had a completely different list:
Snuggle Juno in a sunbeam in the morning, and give her chin scratches
Open the blinds and feed the squirrels for Juno
Text Stace and say good morning to Blakey
Facebook my mama
Text good morning to Kattie
Send a funny e-card to Goose
Talk to - and listen to - my team at work, and figure out the best strategy to get us through the day
Listen to people who are speaking to me
Put a "thinking of you" card in the mail
Go home on time
Leave work at work (I am terrible about this one)
Give Juno more snuggles and chin scratches; feed her dinner and feed the squirrels so she can watch
Text goodnight before I fall asleep
It's not the same list. Not even close to the same list. Because in all actuality, the things you have to do - the projects and deadlines and errands - are really not what matters. They're things that don't need to happen right this second. They can almost always wait. But the need to be someone's priority? That's not an optional feeling. The need to feel like we're first to someone else? That isn't something that can wait. How often are you making people wait to feel cared about? Do you make your friends and family wait around until you have time to love them on your terms? Or are you practicing that selfless, honest, vulnerable love, where what they need far outweighs what else you have to do today?
The truth is, people need us to care about them. Our friends need to be a priority, not an option. Our family needs to feel included in our busy life. People don't want to feel inconvenient, irrelevant, or disposable. When people don't feel cared about, they stop caring back. And yet, when we feel important, we are far more likely to reciprocate - the people who prioritize me are certainly the ones I prioritize! So the next time you are running through the 25 things you have to get done today, and a friend calls you to please meet them for a beer, don't make an excuse. Don't say you have to go to the store or finish your laundry. Don't let them feel like you don't care. Go. Meet them. Care about them.
And remember that truthfully, if it's important to you, you'll find a way, but if it's not, you'll find an excuse.
Don't let the people you care about the most, feel like they're optional.