“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau
One thing that every single human on this earth has the same amount of is hours in a day. Each and every single one of us has 24 hours in the day to work with. As such, we each need to prioritize the things that matter most in order to get them done. 2021 has come to breathe new life into us. The New Year is an exciting time of (re)direction and (re)commitment to reaching lofty goals and becoming the best version of ourselves. As such, I want to dedicate this post to how we can make time for the things we want in our lives–the things that really, truly matter.
As I began this post, I had the idea to break this into three sections. Since all of our goals are so vastly different, I wanted to zoom out and focus on the general things we have in common: the activities in which we are involved, the tangible things we allow to accumulate in our lives, and, lastly, the people with whom we spend time and/or give our energy. I want to focus on each one of these areas and how we can make time for the things we want in 2021.
POINT ONE: FIRST THINGS FIRST (activities)
Stephen R. Covey once did a presentation (link in the references section) where he had a woman try to fit different sized rocks and pebbles into a large bowl. She struggles, is baffled by his reassurance that everything can, in fact, fit, and eventually allows him to help her. He starts with a fresh, empty bowl and puts the big rocks in first. Then he adds the medium sized rocks, and lastly the smallest pebbles. It all fits perfectly!
The lesson here is that the big things need to come first in our lives. We need to do those pressing activities first, and then move to the other items of lesser importance in order to get everything done. Each of us has 24 hours in a day. We have to figure out how to squeeze in all our priorities, work, and fun into those hours each day. Personally, I have found that I have a difficult time getting all my “To Do” list complete when I have neglected some of my “big rocks” (exercise, prayer/meditation/scripture study, nutritious meals, etc). When I neglect those foundational “big rocks,” I have a hard time being as productive as I would like throughout the day. When the most important activities or responsibilities get done first, I am able to tackle the smaller tasks and get more done than if I focused on the “small rocks” first.
Let’s figure out how to put the big rocks first each day. As we do that, we will ensure that we are making space for the most pressing, important things and doing the things we truly want to this year.
POINT TWO: LESS IS MORE (things)
When Marie Kondo’s book hit Netflix a few winters ago, local donation centers quickly filled up. Why? Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, is just that–life-changing! This short but powerful read inspires us to go through our things (our items, our material possessions) and only keep what we really need and what truly brings us joy. (Literally–she instructs to hold each item and ask if it sparks joy. Try it!) Millions of viewers did just that and cleared out their homes of necessary things they did not truly need.
I know it may sound odd, but I have found such liberation in minimizing the stuff I hold on to. What things do we want in our lives? What do we want to keep around us? What possessions are we hanging on to that we do not actually need? Let’s figure out how to make space for the things we truly need and use and want and then do away with all the extra fluff.
POINT THREE: BOUNDARIES (people)
Brené Brown has inspired many of us by her books and Ted Talks. Her ideas are revolutionary and help us live our best lives as our most authentic selves. One topic she repeatedly focuses on is boundaries. She says,
“As our calendars swell with obligations, it’s important to recommit to one thing that can help keep us sane: boundaries. Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. We can’t base our own worthiness on others’ approval.”
The third and final way for us to make space for the things we truly want is by evaluating the time we spend with others or for others. If we are saying yes out of obligation, we will wind up feeling resentful. Brené’s mantra is, “choose discomfort over resentment.” If we do not have time for something or someone, we need to have the self-respect enough to say no. Having boundaries protects our time and will ensure we use that time on the things we really want.
Additionally, if we have relationships in our lives that are toxic or do not lift us up, it may be time to minimize those relationships. I am a loyal friend, and it is hard for me to step back from friendships. But, through the years, there have been a handful of times where I have had to do just that in order to protect myself. You and I are in control of the people we allow into our lives. If we have relationships that drain us repeatedly or bring us down, let’s limit the time we spend in them and make space for healthier relationships.
As 2021 breathes new life into us, I hope we each have the courage to make space for the things we truly want to fill our lives. Let’s make space for the most important activities first (big rocks), let’s make space for the actual things (items) that spark joy in our lives, and let’s make space for the people and commitments that we genuinely want in our lives. As we take the reins and make space for the things we want in our days, we will find ourselves at the end of 2021 feeling very fulfilled and satisfied with our year. No one else can do it for us. Let’s fill 2021 with the activities, things and people that we truly want to and make it a wonderful year!
As always, please remember that I am here as your cheerleader and advocate. Especially as the year is beginning, now is a better time than ever to get into therapy in order to become the person you want to be! Click HERE to schedule a session!
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.