If you want to make things happen, you need to prioritize.
As much as we like to tell ourselves otherwise... Our energy, time, and other resources are limited. Every action takes energy, time, and resources that you can invest in something else.
So we have no other option but to PRIORITIZE, show flexibility and adjust to the changing circumstances.
To reach your dreams, you must set a clear priority to what is essential. For example:
Doing the dishes.
Finishing your taxes.
Eating a balanced meal.
Changing the baby's diaper.
Intimate time with your partner.
Going to work.
Those are essential and must be done on time.
On the other hand:
Start writing the novel you've always wanted to write.
Finish color-coordinating your wardrobe.
Learn to play the guitar.
Street viewing your next year's holiday destination.
Pressing Continue when Netflix asks, "Are you still watching?"
Starting a new YouTube channel.
These are all worthy activities, but when time is short, they must wait. Focusing on the nonessential deprives you of the possibility to achieve your real goals in life**.
Let me make it clear; I'm not saying you shouldn't strive to follow all of your dreams. But be realistic about them. At the end of the day: YOU CAN NOT HAVE IT ALL. Nevertheless, you can be happy, fulfilled, and enjoy every second of your life; by focusing on what's important to you and not wasting your precious time and energy trying to have it all.
When life gives you lemons...
In 2020, I tried to create a YouTube channel. Having a clear vision of what my YouTube channel would be, I posted my first video on Jan 8th, 2020, and was planning to upload videos regularly. But then: life, pandemic, pregnancy, on and off lockdown, social distancing with a 1-year-old at home in a small one-bedroom apartment, stillbirth, pandemic, and more life. So as you can probably figure it out. I did almost nothing when it came to my YouTube channel in 2020.
On the other hand, during the same year, I've sent applications to every "call for artists" I could find in hopes of presenting my work at a subsidized festival. To those of you who don't know me, I'm a belly dancer. I practice a form of art that some people consider fun entertainment, and others consider it a gateway to sex work. So I'm used to getting "NO" every time I send an application for a festival\art event\residency. However, in 2019!!! 3 months before I became a mom. I filmed a short dance piece with my troupe. I've attached it to my applications and sent it to every application.
Most didn't reply; others said, "thanks but no." However, one theater director invited me for an interview.
I sacked (you can tell by people's body language when they think WTF?), but the moment I showed her the video, her eyes lit up. She said that the work doesn't fit their event, but she loved what she saw and offered to work with her on her next project. And this is how I started working in a theater amid a pandemic. We are about to begin our next project soon. Working with Karov Theater and its artistic director Dorit Nitay is a fantastic experience, and I'm grateful for this opportunity.
In 2020 I prioritized applications over YouTube. I was almost invisible on social media because I had very little energy, and I needed to focus it on the essentials: family, work, and growth opportunities (which for me meant sending those applications).
Did I get what I planned? No, I didn't get my work into a subsidized festival. However, I got my first recognition outside of my community as a choreographer; this was huge. After many years of no's and maybe's, it feels so good to get a yes.
So no. I don't have it all; still, I couldn't be happier with the results.
And what about my YouTube channel, you ask?
Well, I picked it up again the following year in 2021. You're welcome to check it out ;) Will it grow to what I envisioned it to be? Hopefully Yes. Will I be disappointed if other opportunities will come my way? Hell No.
So how to prioritize in times of uncertainties?
Write down the most important things to you. This is your life. There is no right or wrong answer here. Just be truthful.
What are the things you have now that you want to preserve and nurture?
What are the things you haven't achieved yet?
Maybe it's finding a partner? Deepen your relationship with a family member? Spending time with friends? Perhaps it's your career work that gives you meaning? Your business? Maybe you would like to prioritize your health? Being an active member in church? Volunteer work with kids? Your annual scuba dive trip? Or your monthly meeting with your hairdresser? Or maybe it's your beloved car you worked so hard for?
We all have different priorities. And we have only one life span to fulfill them. Write them ALL down.
2. Climb your way to the top
Imagine you are climbing a mountain. And in your bag, you carry your list. The higher you go, the heavier the load gets. And you realize that if you want to make it to the top, you can carry only 5 things. You have no other choice. You must minimize your list to only 5 items; otherwise, you won't make it.
Write down the five things you are taking with you to the top.
Which things were easy to toss, and which were difficult?
Are there any common characteristics to the things that stayed on your list?
What values lead you with your choice?
Are there any common characteristics to the things you've tossed?
What does this list tell you about yourself?
Are there other things you would wish this list to say?
This mountain climbing exercise is a visualization of prioritizing. It forces us to choose what we are willing to invest our energy and time in.
The second you have a clear priority, it's easier to say NO to distractions and keep you on track. Use this list to remind you what's important to you. And slowly build a work plan that will allow you to achieve this list.
Let me know what you think, and what tools do you use to prioritize what you focus on?