Priorities vs. Responsibilites

Recently, I’ve been sitting down on Monday mornings and mapping out my week. I bust out a 5×7 index card and write the days of the week across the top. I then plug in the responsibilities I can think of for the entire week. Classes to teach, Little League games to coach, swim lessons in which to take the kids, meetings I’ve been invited to attend. After five minutes, my card is almost full with a week’s worth of responsibilities.

Is my foundation strong enough to withstand the big, bad wolf, aka life?

What about my priorities though?

I had an epiphany the other day that I was building my weeks (and my life) around responsibilities instead of priorities. This is akin to one of the three little pigs building a house out of straw or sticks. When the big, bad wolf comes around, that house is going to get blown to pieces. If I’m building my day, my week, and my life around responsibilities instead of priorities, then I am not going to have a strong enough foundation to withstand the big, bad wolf, aka life, when it comes around looking to blow my house down.

The reality is that in order to put food on the table, we all have responsibilities to address. Jobs, school, kids activities, keeping the house in order, grocery shopping, fixing the car…these are all responsibilities that need to get done. But if we’re not careful, these responsibilities become the building blocks of our lives. Doesn’t it make more sense to have priorities as the building blocks? Going on a date with my wife should be a priority that trumps my responsibility of having to buy a birthday present for a kid’s birthday party this weekend. So why did I write on my card, “Buy birthday present for Saturday,” and leave out, “Date night with Melissa?”

My priorities need to be scheduled into my day, my week, and my life before my responsibilities. I should be filling in my responsibilities around my priorities, not the other way around.

So from now on, my weekly calendar will be constructed with a more solid foundation. I will pour some meditation. I will mix that with a date night with my wife. I will add some game time with my kids. I will let that settle and then add a daily walk on top. Only after I’ve created a solid foundation of priorities will I begin to fill in the gaps with dozens of responsibilities. I hope you will do the same.