We are three days into the second half of 2012. How are your priorities for the year coming along?
If you’re like most of us, you’ve got a mixed record of accomplishment. You’ve probably hit a few goals but missed some others.
The question is why? Why is it that what we say is important often ends up not being realized? One clear answer to that question is simple: you didn’t make it a priority.
Something inside you might push back and say “No, that’s not it at all. It is a priority. It just didn’t happen yet.” Sometimes we can fool ourselves into thinking something is a priority when it wasn’t. And other times we think something isn’t a priority only to discover that it is.
Here’s a way to think about priorities that has helped me a lot.
A priority is something you commit time and money toward.
Those things that we spend the most time and money on are our actual priorities. And despite what we think or try to convince ourselves, if we spend no time and no money on something, it isn’t a priority.
So, do you want to know where your real priorities were for the first six months of 2012? Not where you thought they were, wanted them to be, or imagined them to be, but where they actually were? It’s quite easy.
Just look back at your calendar and your bank statements and you will see where your priorities actually were. Whatever you spent the most time and money on was your biggest priority. (I realize it was probably your house or food, but that says something. Beyond that, look at where your discretionary money went. It will lead you directly to your actual priorities, not to mention toward your idols.)
If you don’t like where that lands, then rethink how you spend your time and money moving forward. Here’s how:
- Spend time on it. Budget an hour a day to accomplish something that’s a priority for you. Seriously, budget an hour a day toward it. More if you need to.
- Spend money on it. Whether that’s an investment in a course, some new relationships (taking colleagues out to Starbucks or to dinner), or start up capital, spend money on it. Don’t waste money on it, but do think of it as an investment. Over time, if you have spent zero dollars on what you think is a priority, it’s not a priority. Even friendship, over time, takes an investment of some money.
I realize you only have so much time and money, so here’s what you do. As you review where you spent your time and money earlier in past months, you’ll discover that you spent both on things that aren’t really important. Cut them. Stop spending time on them. Stop wasting money on them. Free up your resources to go toward your priorities.
(By the way, this can also explain why you might be spiritually stagnant. Someone who spends very little time and very little money on the Kingdom of God doesn’t grow.)
Do you agree? Are time and money reliable indicators of priorities? What are you learning about how you spend your time and money?