2017, my year of priorities

I love the start of a new year, after those quiet and lazy days at the end of the old one. If done right, I've used them to recharge and eat the rest of the chocolate cake. Because it's not a new year until all the chocolate cake has gone. 

I used to set resolutions when the New Year started. Long lists of goals to acheive in the coming months that I thought would make my life better. Make me a better person. But in recent years I've learnt that lists of this kind don't make any difference at all. Well, not to me anyway. What I really need is a shift in my thinking, because that's what leads to a shift in my doing. I can write all the lists I want, but if I don't think different then it doesn't change a damn thing.

Everything changes when we give ourselves permission to be more selective in what we choose to do.
— Greg McKeown: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Last year was full on. I've already written about this in my round up of 2016, of how much happened and how many things I was learning to deal with for the first time. Winging it is a feeling all new mothers will be familiar with, because everything changes so fast your first year that it's hard to build routine or get into a rhythm that lasts longer than a few months. For a lot of the year I struggled to get a handle on day to day life, especially once Rory was eating proper meals. It was another thing to add to my ever growing list of things to plan for each day. There was a lot of chasing my tail, doing things last minute and rushing through the week and not nearly enough moments of being present or joyous. I just didn't have time. It was a frustrating place to be in, but one I'm glad I got to because it made me realise that something had to change. I had to be more in control of my time and my daily life so I could fill it with the presence, slowness and joy that I was craving.

My reality is that I am currently a full time mother, with a partner that works long hours, whilst trying to build a freelance business and essentially working two jobs. The demands on my time and energy are huge, and that's before I've even considered my own needs. Life is busy, and will be for the forseeable future, but most of us have busy lives and that isn't an excuse for letting 'busywork' take over. In fact, it is because my life is busy that focusing on my priorities is so important. 

Checking items off a to-do list doesn’t determine progress; focusing on your priorities is what counts.
— Frank Sonnenberg

So, instead of starting the year with a list of things to do or places to go or other things that I will never get around to doing, I have decided that 2017 will be the year of priorities. The things that bring me joy, top up my chi, keep me present with my daughter and nourish my relationships are going at the top of my list. I'm scheudling fun, and rest, time to play and time to be still before I schedule work and chores. Because there's never enough time to do what I must, so I'm going to do what I love instead.

I've read a few books recently that have really cemented in my mind how much I need to prioritise the things that matter in life to avoid feeling busy and overstretched all of the time. I know it's something so many of us struggle with, and I think perhaps no one struggles with this more that a parent who also runs their own business. I can really recommend 'Do Less, Get More' by Shaa Wasmund, 'Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less' by Greg McKeown , and 'In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed' by Carl Honoré. All three of these books helped me realise not only the importance of prioritising my time, but also to teach me how I can be in control of my time. Scheduling, planning ahead, delegating, removing the inessential are all strategies for managing a busy life and yet still having time for all the things we dream of doing with our time. I really recommend reading them if you're starting the year feeling overwhelmed by daily life, or finding it hard to make time for the things you really want to do.

So here's to 2017, here's to priorities and here's to what's essential. Because while we can't do everything, we sure can do what really matters.