Life is Stressful.
Another traffic jam. Deadlines approaching. Son has a band concert tonight. Life feels out of whack, too much to do but not enough time. Everyone has times where life feels overwhelming. We become stressed out. But there are two simple, but difficult steps to gaining control of your life: making a list and making a decision.
Step One: Prioritize.
I am not going to profess to be an expert at this step. There are many theories on how to prioritize your life, but I’m going to keep this simple. You will need a writing utensil and a couple of pieces of paper. At the top of the first page write the word “Now.” Take a few minutes and brainstorm everything that is important to you now. It can be people, jobs, material things, and goals that you want to achieve in the near future. Try not to judge anything you write down, just write it. On the other paper write the words, “Long Term Goals” or even “Bucket List” and repeat the brainstorming step. Now, take a break. Grab a coffee or even come back to the list the next day because my advice becomes difficult. For both lists rank the items from most important, number 1, to least important (the last number will be decided by your lists).
Step Two: Courage.
We all go through seasons in our life. Our “Now” list will change. So will our long-term goals. We do need to readjust, keep that in mind as I discuss the hardest step in this process. We only have time and energy to spend on the top five things on the “Now” list. We can only accomplish a long-term goal by moving it to the “Now” list. To eliminate most of the stress in your life, have the courage to make decisions based on fulfilling the top 5 things you have on your “Now” list. Again, it’s simple but very difficult to do because we want to do it all, to have it all. But our emotional life becomes a burden when we don’t live up to what we say is important to us. The harsh reality is that we only have so much time and energy. Too many of us spend these limited resources on people, projects, or things that didn’t even make our list, let alone were in the top five. It will be difficult, but if you keep the top five things on your “Now” list in mind as you make your decisions, you will find your stress level is down, and your joy is increased.
Jamey Boelhower is a husband and a father of six, TIS, coach, and teacher for Sandy Creek high school in Nebraska. He is also an adjunct professor for CCC Hastings.