Mantra Monday: Adjusting Your Goals

Sometimes Life Requires Re-prioritizing

Those of you who follow the site might have noticed that my productivity here has dropped dramatically over the last couple of months. You can read all of my excuses in the last few posts, but the reality is, I just haven’t made this site a priority since toward the end of June.

If that sounds harsh, it’s not. It’s part of another mindset rule I picked up from Steve Kamb and his book Level Up Your Life. The mindset rule comes down to this: If you find yourself saying you “don’t have time” for things that you know you “should” be doing or things that you want to be doing, change the phrase “I don’t have time” to “It’s not a priority.” Steve explains it pretty well, so I’ll let you read about it on your own from him. For my purposes, I want to look at the language of those two phrases and see how the cognitive psychology works behind each one.

“I don’t have time.”

Let’s deconstruct that sentence. “I” the subject, “do not have” a resource, “time.” This places all of the blame on the Universe. It removes all agency from the subject. So, in other words, when you say “I don’t have time,” you’re saying that it’s not your fault you’re not doing what you want to or “should be” doing because the universe only gives you 24 hours a day, and that’s just not enough. And yet… we all get the same 24 hours, and some of us do a lot more with them than others.

This contradiction makes us feel guilty about not getting things done and makes us resent people who are able to do those things we wish we could do.

“It’s Not a Priority.”

I’ll admit, at first, this shift seems harsh, because… well, that phrase carries some small amount of negative connotation. It makes it seem like whatever it is you “should be” doing, or “want to be” doing is less important somehow. But that’s the point. You decide what’s important and what’s not. All of the agency is in your hands at that point. You must be deliberate about the choices you make with your time just like you must be deliberate about the choices you make with your money.

Say I walk into a guitar store and I know I have $1000 in the bank. There’s a guitar I really like for $500. When the salesperson asks for the sale, if I say “I can’t afford it,” it feels like I’m denying myself something – because I know that I have the money in the bank and I could buy it, but I “have” to say no. On the other hand, if I say “It’s not a priority,” I’m affirming that the other things in my budget — the things that $1000 was already earmarked for — are more important to me than buying a new guitar until I can afford it.

Again, saying, “It’s not a priority,” instead of “I can’t afford it,” puts agency in my hands. It is me consciously deciding what is important to spend money on and what can wait until I save up for it.

I’m not saying this kind of psychology will work for everyone, but it certainly works for me.

Back to the Point

So where have my priorities been the last six weeks or so? Well, they’ve been on my dad, who’s been struggling with health issues. They’ve been on growing my contribution to, which is paying most of the bills at the moment. Buffalo Jones has also been a big priority, since we’ve got a big album to record in a month or so. I’ve continued to prioritize working out and staying disciplined about that. Another major priority has been self-care, because some of those other priorities have been really draining, both physically and emotionally.

Self care, for me, usually involves an XBox controller or Netflix, since I don’t really do much of either when I’m in full mission-mode regarding writing or creating.

So yeah, instead of writing daily posts for Brandonia the past few weeks, I’ve been blowing up digital tanks and watching Stranger Things, because I didn’t have it in me to prioritize the site over that.

The New Plan

This year has been one of constant flux in my life. Since September, when I realized I would have to sub, I’ve lost many of my most prized possessions. I spent the first semester moving from building to building, never knowing what the day would bring. Then January came along, and I began teaching at N.I.C., which saved my sanity. It was so refreshing to have a class of my own again that it renewed my sense of purpose. I spent most of the first half of this year doing nothing but working. Between teaching, subbing, and building up my freelance business, my plate was completely full. Honestly, I’m thankful for all of those distractions because they kept my mind quiet.

Then the semester ended and I started the janitorial job, which is when things started to shift around again and I had to learn to re-prioritize again.

So Here It Is:

One thing I’ve learned from my work with is that I tend to write really long pieces if I’m not constrained. That’s fine for journals, but for a blog like this it doesn’t have to always be the case. Therefore, I’m re-prioritizing the weekly posts. After all, if I can write two small articles for every day, I can certainly add another 500-1000 words for this site before I pick up the controller. That, boys and girls, is how discipline works.

There are some more big changes coming up for me when August ends, but I can’t talk about that right now (for reasons which will become apparent when I can talk about them). In the mean time, my current priorities are as follows:

  1. Write two pieces per day for and take care of any other issues regarding the site to make money to pay bills.
  2. Work out (including a 2.5 mile run) at least three times per week to stay fit.
  3. Rehearse with Buffalo Jones at least once per week and play multiple shows in order to be ready for Athens.
  4. Spend a couple of hours each week helping Dad with chores.
  5. Write at least one post of at least 500 words every weekday for Brandonia

We’re Already at 1000. Time to Wrap Up

Tomorrow I’ll be talking more about the Buffalo Jones recording project, and Wednesday… (drum roll, please) I’m going to publish the next Dingo Roy story! (I finished the draft on Friday, and I’m doing final edits before I publish on Wednesday). For now though, on to Priority #2 – Gotta hit that gym! See you there.