What’s even more important than listing one’s priorities is listing those things that you do not consider priorities. These are things that slowly siphon your time away. You can say “I want to cross the ocean” all you like, but if you don’t recognize that your boat has a leak, you’re not going to get very far.
So now we’ll discuss the things that are holding me back, things that inhibit our progress to peace and happiness.
For anyone else who is following along with this blog so far, be forewarned: this is a difficult task to undergo. This list will likely reveal a host of things, some tangible, some not, that are inhibiting you, without you even realizing it. It will probaby reveal an addiction you were ignoring, a habit you’re surprised by, or a ritual you’ve been neglecting. Guilt, anger and pride will likely rear their ugly heads. You will likely experience resistance and shame in some cases. Personal growth comes with its own “growing pains” and this will probably sting.
I am saying this to myself, as I prepare to bare it all. Shall we begin?
My first task is to reflect on the past couple weeks and think about the things that I feel guilty or angry about. For example, as much as I love her, I often feel I don’t spend enough time playing with my daughter. I also feel I should be able to accomplish more housework than currently maintained. But why? What is holding me back?
- Too much TV
Ahh, there is the first sting. You know what is most sad about this? We don’t even have a set of rabbit ears. We have no cable, no satellite, no Netflix. What we do have, however, is a laptop hooked up to a television and we watch episodes online, from shows that aired the night before. And it is so easy to get sucked into that comatose state, isn’t it? So easy to fall prey to the heros on TV whose lives, personalities and appearances come across as so perfect, so seamless, so much better than our own.
My husband (and subsequently, I) spend too much time watching TV. It’s a form of release for him, as television and movies are a passion of his and a way for him to relax and destress after working at his very difficult job. As much as I can see and understand this, it is also well past it’s limit. And therefore, I must impart some basic rules to help deal with the issue. For us, the rules will be:
- No TV before 7:30pm or before baths, chores and clean up are done. The exception to this is Friday nights, our TV night.
- No violent, dramatic or unpleasant television while Naomi is awake (clean comedies only). (Side note: we do not let her watch television, but there’s no reason to be watching something unpleasant while she is awake, in case she does get a glimpse. They estimate babies who are allowed to watch TV see something like 2000 murders by the time they’re two.)
- Too much iPhone
Ahhh, the wonderful iPhone. How quickly you get addicted to these wonderful little handheld devices. Mine even comes to bed with me (“It’s the only ‘me time’ I get, and the only chance I have to blog without interruption,” I hear myself saying to my husband.). It has begun weighing on ny conscience, especially since I have begun noticing my daughter either looking at it sadly or eagerly grabbing for it. Oh beloved iPhone, you have become far too dear to me. I am afraid we must break up. Can we not still be friends?
- Delete any and all crap apps (approx. 90% of them).
- Stop keeping daily information on them — no more routines, to do lists, etc.
- Limit email/social media checks to 1 per hour. Immediate or necessary replies only. All others can wait til nap time.
- Pick a few specific purposes for the iPhone. For me, that would include blogging, social media, information, family appointments. The majority of it’s uses are just as easy to be done analog.
- Keep gaming to a minimum. I have two games I play with my husband and one I play myself. That is enough.
- Set aside some iPhone-free time. For me, when my daughter is awake, when my husband is home, etc. Keep a running list of things to do or look up or do on the phone during this time for when you have the time later.
This one gets all of us, and we don’t even realize it. I waste so much time on so many useless, trivial things, because they aren’t perfect. I will (metaphorically) spend so much time polishing the silverware, that I never get to eat with it! (Side note: For anyone who struggles with this, I highly recommend checking out FlyLady.net. She has helped thousands of people, and if you can get past her product placement and constant referrals to her friends, she really does have good things to say.)
- Give up. I’m not perfect. I wasn’t born perfect, I’ll never be perfect, so stop trying to be perfect.
- Acknowledge it when I realize I’m doing it, and move on.
- Limit the time I have to focus on a task. Set a timer for 2-15 minutes and only allow myself that much time to complete the task.
- Utilize my resources. Spellcheck, erasers and Freecycle are there to help us cope with our errors.
- Bad Habits
We all have things that we do unconsciously that diminish our lives. A dependency, a desire, a weakness. Perhaps you love collecting chess sets, or have a vast collection of books you never read, or (my vice) are drawn to blank paper of all kinds. This interferes with your life routine when you find yourself spending too much or being overburdened with your habit.
- Ask myself, is it worth it? I stopped collecting magazines years ago when I realized I could get any of the articles I liked off the Internet. It wasn’t worth it to keep them all.
- Keep only the things I love. I had a desk full of blank journals. I realized they were weighing me down and tossed most of them. Now I keep my journals in blogs or on my iPhone.
I am that person. The one who wants to make everyone happy. The one who wants to be sure no one’s feelings get hurt. The one who doesn’t object when I specifically ask that no one buy my daughter clothes, but they do anyways. The one who ignores a chill remark about breastfeeding by a family member because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. The one who let’s her home and life get overcluttered because I can’t say no.
- Ask myself, again, is it worth it? Is my happiness not worth as much as anyone else’s? Why should I sacrifice my home and family to please people who aren’t even part of it?
- Grow a backbone. Make sure that I inform others when their acts, behavior and attitude offend or go against my wishes.
- Be prepared for the backlash and accept it for what it is. 9 times out of 10, people don’t even realize that what they’re doing is offensive or disagreeable. But that doesn’t mean it is acceptable, and we all hate to be wrong. I need to be gentle, but firm, and accept that not everyone is going to take my criticism lightly.
This list could go on for eternity. But this is a good start. If I can accomplish this much, I will be well on my way.