Priorities in Focus
2020. 35 years ago, I was fully expecting at this point to be participating in time travel and space travel *cues Back To The Future and The Jetsons*. Strangely enough, the reality of the beginning of this year has found me much more reflective about my present self rather than worrying much about any of those things. The heaviness of recent events locally, nationally, and even personally, have forced me to get a renewed perspective about what is most important for me.
Gaining perspective about what is important in life is probably proof that I am finally on track to the “adulting” phenomenon that I have resisted for as long as I could. I would argue, however, that just being forced into perspective is not enough for continued evolution towards my best self. Without going through the process of shifting my perspective into establishing priorities, it all seems pretty shallow. Priorities allow us to put our perspective into action.
I don’t know about you, but it seems that I always have the hardest time with the priorities and action part. Even during this “New Year, New Me” time of the year when I have attended every vision board session, bought every journal, signed up for every workout class and made every resolution, I still seem to get off track. This got me to thinking, why is it so hard to prioritize?
It is complicated. Nothing about what we care the most about is ever simple. It is typically linked to something else that we may also care about (or not) that muddies the waters. For example, we prioritize our families and the time we spend with them. Because we care so deeply about them, we many times work as hard as we can to earn the best living possible to provide for them. Hard work, moving on up, and we may look up and have less time -- surprise -- for that family that we did all of this for in the first place.
It is overwhelming. There are so many important activities, ideas and relationships that we care about, it can be hard to pick. I mean everything matters right?
It changes. Just like the seasons, what is and needs to be a priority in your life changes. It can be difficult to recognize or just hard to accept these changes for many of us.
It is a marathon. The art and science of developing priorities through all of the complicated and overwhelming change is not something you just sprint through quickly and do once. You have to be committed to constantly being open to creating, assessing, and changing priorities throughout your entire life. I mean with so much to do, who has time for that?
Regardless of how long of a list we could all make about why it is so hard to prioritize, I submit that in order to be healthy individuals, it is a requirement. If you try to do everything, you learn rather quickly through burnout and/or utter failure that it is impossible. The same is true within our organizations. Determining and sticking to priorities gives us direction and focus. It helps us to figure out how to keep doing the things we need to do even better and change course when things aren’t working very well. It helps us with time management and feeling less overwhelmed. It allows us to be our best selves, and frees up our partners and colleagues to do the same. It sets us all up for a collective win.
Over the course of this new year, you will be a part of plenty of conversations and work as we assess current and develop new priorities for the Division of Community Services. I am hopeful that as a part of that work, you are able to create your own personal priority plan as well. I am confident that as we focus on shifting our perspectives into priorities in action, the better equipped we are to be our best selves, individually and as a team in 2020.
Dorcas Young Griffin
Director of the Division of Community Services
Shelby County Government