On this week’s episode, we’re talking about priorities.
We are handed a set of priorities by society and our culture, but when we really consider ourselves and our personal values, we can see how individual our priorities can be! When we choose priorities that feel good to us, it becomes easier to make day-to-day choices that align with what is important to us.
We talk about how our relationships fit into our priorities (and—spoiler alert—they’re at the top of our lists!) and how prioritizing connection has become a focus for both of us as we tuned out the external noise and tuned into how we want to show up in the world.
We hope you enjoy this episode and take the time to dive into the episode questions. We look forward to hearing your reflections on Instagram or YouTube!
Let’s dig deep, challenge paradigms, choose connection, and live joyfully!
- How can you quiet the outside noise so you can hear your own thoughts? Your inner voice?
- What priorities make sense to you? Why?
- Where do your relationships fall in your list of priorities?
- Are your day to day actions lining up with your priorities? What changes, if any, would you make?
- Do any of your priorities depend on other people’s actions and choices? If so, is there a way you could tweak them so that they focus on what you can control?
ANNA: Hello and welcome to the Living Joyfully Podcast. We are so excited you found us and look forward to exploring our relationships, who we are in them, out of them, and what that means for how we move through the world. So, on today’s episode, we’re going to talk about priorities. And I love this as a starting place for the podcast, because it’s such an interesting topic to examine.
Priorities are so individual, and yet, so often, we’re handed a set of priorities from society. We’re handed definitions of success and where and how we should be spending our time.
And there are these heavy guardrails of judgment that we have to move through if we choose to deviate from these expected paths.
So, it can be really interesting, I’ve found, to dig into those outside voices, that judgment. What’s behind it? What purpose does it serve? And is it helping me get in touch with who I am and who I want to be in the world?
I think about the studies that they do when people are on their deathbed and they’re asked, is there anything that you would change? And consistently, they answer that they wished they had prioritized their relationships over achievements or the next promotion.
For me personally, I came to that realization for myself after our first child had a life-threatening after birth experience. Almost losing her really woke me up to the path I was on and to look at how I wanted to spend my time. And the answer for me was doing things I love with the people that I love. And that’s how I want to spend this time that I’m given. And understanding that has just been a huge guide for me ever since.
So, I’m curious, Pam, what’s it been like for you?
PAM: Well, it was having children that sparked my journey, as well. I found that those first few years were just filled with questions like who I wanted to be as a person and parent. And, having internalized so many of society’s goals and stories growing up, it took me a while, quite a while, to realize just how much choice I actually had.
I didn’t need to just dutifully take on the path and the priorities that were handed to me. I could figure out what I value and make those things a priority in my. And then, as I continued to ask more questions, I came to realize what would always be in my life, and it was my relationships. Jobs, hobbies, areas of interest, while definitely being integral parts of who I am, those would come and go over the years. They had been coming and going over the years. But my relationships with my family would always be in my life. They were and are a fundamental part of just my being in the world.
And so, since that aha moment, I have chosen to prioritize my relationships. And rather surprisingly, because you think I’m focusing on something, so I’m closing things down to this one thing, but I found that my life has been so much richer for it.
ANNA: Oh, my gosh. So much richer. I feel like when we have that foundation of strong, connected relationships, it’s just this really wonderful place from which we can explore the world and learn about ourselves. Because I think that might have been the most surprising piece for me, that as I focused on being in relationship with others, I learned so much about myself. It’s not always easy, but I’m grateful for it.
And so, as I’m thinking about this, we both got to this place where we didn’t want to be taking these priorities that were being handed to us. The next bit for me was realizing that others don’t want me to define their priorities either.
So, when we think about our partners or kids, it was really helpful to think, am I judging how they spend their time, the choices that they’re making? Because that judgment comes between us. We don’t learn why they’re making the choices they’re making. We miss the opportunity to really connect with them and who they are. It’s got this cloud of expectation and you’ll have some people that will buck against that expectation in really dramatic fashion. And then you’ll have others that really try to meet it, even if it’s not in alignment for them. But, either way, the connection is harmed and can be lost together.
So, I try not to be the outside voice that someone needs to shut out, but instead be someone who celebrates and just unconditionally supports the people in my life.
PAM: Absolutely. That was definitely yet another layer to peel back for me, realizing how valuable it was for me to contemplate and choose my priorities, but that didn’t mean my priorities were the best priorities for anyone else. It makes so much sense to me why my priorities are these and in this order, but no, everyone is a different person. And I remember the huge shift in my relationship with my spouse when I stopped trying to convince him that my priorities should be his priorities as well, which had looked like me trying to tell him what to do and when. And I was definitely nice about it. I wasn’t trying to bully him or anything, but as I thought about it, I was trying to convince him that I was right and vice versa. That’s where our conversations went. They were often about convincing each other that our priorities and choices were more right than the other person’s. There was definitely a winner and a loser.
But once I began to share my priorities without trying to convince him to adopt them, oh, my gosh. There was space for him to start sharing his without me judging them. Each of us was more able to be ourselves. We could just share and see how things landed. And then, that in turn helped us learn more about each other as we’d chat about the things that are important to us and why. And recognizing that his priorities are as important to him as mine are to me.
ANNA: It’s so true. I don’t know. We get stuck in our head, right? We get stuck in our head thinking everybody’s seeing things the same way. And so, yeah, I just love that next layer.
And I think then, I want to talk about, too, as we hone in on these priorities, it’s such a helpful lens to look at the day to day moments. So, in each moment, we have this opportunity to make choices. And understanding my priorities and then keeping them front of mind as I made choices throughout the day was critical to me, actually honoring them as priorities, versus just giving lip service to, “My relationships are important,” or whatever the thing might be.
So, what that would look like for me, it might be stopping what I’m doing to hear my child excitedly tell me about their game. It’s taking a walk after dinner with David to reconnect, because we’ve had some time apart that day. Because, truthfully, I could curl up with a book and get some work done at the computer, but I do want to tend to that relationship, that priority first. And what I found is that that connection serves us both as we move through the evening and through the subsequent days.
And another really big one for me, this was so huge, was learning to say no to outside requests that took me away from the people that I loved. And here’s the thing. Sometimes there are easy yeses and they feed me and they feel great and they feel great to those around me. But other times, what I noticed is that I was saying yes without really thinking about how it would impact me, my energy, what I would have left to give my family, the time it might take away from spending time with the important people in my life, all of those things.
I’m just seeing the person in front of me with the ask and saying, “Okay, I’ll help,” without really checking in. And using that lens really helped me realize that the time with them was what I wanted to prioritize, and so, I really needed to align my actions with that. So, that becomes the work, aligning our actions with what matters most to us.
PAM: Exactly. Yet another huge layer is, okay, I’ve got these priorities. It’s not sticking them on a post-it note and sticking them somewhere where I’ll see them. It’s, how do these weave into my days, my actual days? What do they look like in action?
And I wanted to mention, it is not about trying to guilt ourselves into making choices that align with our priorities. If we find ourselves doing that regularly, I think that might be a great clue just to revisit our priorities. Apparently, the things that I want to do in my day don’t align with what I thought my priorities were.
ANNA: That’s so interesting.
PAM: So, just revisit them. What you really choose to do in the moment, you want to do in the moment, those outer voices, right? Am I doing it, because I think I should? Or is this something that feels good, that I want to choose, that I choose to do, that I want to do? And you want the things that you choose to do to align with your priorities, as well. They weave together so much.
That said, though, it doesn’t mean that the choices are always easy. Like you were talking about, they aren’t often between a good thing and a bad thing, making the choice easy like, “Oh yeah, between this and this? No, no. This is definitely it.” Often, it’s between two or three lovely things, but that’s where knowing our priorities can be so helpful.
So, using your example, which I love, maybe after dinner I could take a walk with Rocco to reconnect, or I could clean up the kitchen a bit, maybe because it feels nice to me to walk into a tidy kitchen, or I could relax and read a bit. When I think about those choices, the first thing I might realize is that, those aren’t actually either/or things, right? I could do them all over the course of the evening. And taking a moment to consider my priorities helps me put them in an order that aligns with them.
So, maybe I have also learned that once I sit down to relax and read or watch a show, I often feel too tired for a walk after. So, there are a couple of solid reasons to tend to the relationship first for me. So, maybe our walk turns into us tidying the kitchen together as we finish up our conversation. And then we can each go to our own thing feeling refreshed and connected.
There are so many ways that things can unfold. And keeping our priorities in mind helps us choose the path that feels more fulfilling to us.
ANNA: Oh, my gosh, yes. And I think that’s such a great point about, if you’re feeling a rub during your day about, I want to do this, but it’s not aligning with these priorities I’ve set out, if you’re seeing that as a to-do list or a checklist and it’s not feeling good, woo, stop! Just stop right there. And revisit and go, “Wait a minute, are my priorities really lining up with who I want to be right now in this moment?”
And the thing is, they can change. Our priorities can change and they will as we go through different seasons of our lives, as we, grow and change and learn more things about ourselves. So, just looking for those little rub spots, I think, is important.
PAM: Speaking of those rubs, sometimes there are emergencies. There are urgent things in life that come up and I may absolutely choose to do those things. And I may choose to step far out of my comfort zone and do some things, but it’s the act of recognizing, oh yeah, this needs my attention immediately, very, very soon. I am going to do that. Priorities, again, it’s not a rule.
ANNA: No. Or a checklist.
PAM: Choice is right there. But priorities, there’s something that can help us make choices that, again, they feel fulfilling. They feel right. They feel good to us. They help us when we come to a point where there are various possibilities for the next moment.
So, I just think they are so valuable for us to recognize, because sometimes, too, our priorities may look quite mundane. Like relationships. “I see these people every day! Of course I’m in relationship with them. They live down the hall, they sleep down the hall.” So, it can feel like, why is it even worth making that a priority? But that’s the fun part. That’s why it’s so valuable to think about it, to think about the kind of person that I want to be, the kind of parent I want to be, the kind of partner I want to be. And when we’re thinking about it, we’ve got it top of mind as we go through our day. As things come up, as things unfold in front of us, we can make the choices that feel better for us, so that at the end of the day, it often feels just more fulfilling really.
ANNA: Right. And grounded, for me, because again, I think it’s interesting. I think they inform each other. The choice informs the priority. The priorities inform the choice. And so, just that awareness, like you said, top of mind, bringing that awareness, that can really help us. It’s a grounded feeling of like, I’m living the life that I want to live. I am being the person that I want to be and those are the things that I like to check in with myself about periodically. So, yeah, I love that.
Okay, so, we are going to leave you with some questions to ponder this week.
The first one is, how can you quiet the outside noise so you can hear your own thoughts, your inner voice? And so, this will be a big one, just thinking about, where are those voices coming from? What does it sound like for you? What does your voice sound like in contrast? So, just give a little time to sit with that and how you can shut those noises out.
The next one is, what priorities make sense to you and why? Because, like we said, it’s going to be different. There’s going to be seasons. There’s going to be things that shift around based on where you are in your life and what’s happening.
But, “Do they make sense to you?” is going give you a big clue as to, “Are they coming from outside voices versus, is it something that’s really bubbling up from inside of you? Where do your relationships fall in your list of priorities? And I think it’s just, again, it’s the mundane in some ways, like Pam was saying. And so, maybe sometimes relationships fall off as we’re thinking, “Oh, we’ve got this career thing we want to do,” or whatever, which are all wonderful things. There’s no good or bad here about what you’re pursuing or doing, but it’s just that check in. Where are they falling and is that where I want them? So, I think that’s just important to look at.
Next one is, are your day-to-day actions lining up with your priorities? What changes, if any, would you make? And that’s what we’re talking about, is you’re looking at the different choices you’re making throughout the day. Does it line up with your priorities? And again, keep in mind that it could be that the priorities need to change, or maybe you want to check in about your priorities as you’re making your choices. So, those, again, work together.
Do any of your priorities depend on other people’s actions and choices? And, if so, is there a way you could tweak them so that they focus on what you can control? And this goes back to what we were saying about nobody else wanting us to put our priorities on them. It’s that same kind of thing, because it’s like, if we are expecting someone else to move along with our priorities, it’s pretty much a recipe for upset or disconnection, because they’re going to have their own path there. So, really tuning into, are my priorities in alignment with me and things that I can control?
And, for me, what that looks like a lot of times is, am I being the person I want to be? So, my priority may be about a relationship that does involve somebody else, but what I control is how I show up for the relationship.
PAM: Exactly. Yeah. We don’t have control of how other people show up, but we can also be a wonderful model, as in, this is how we choose.
ANNA: Absolutely. So, check out the show notes for things we’ve mentioned in the episode, the episode transcript, and a link to download the PDF of today’s questions. We’d love to hear what you discover. You can share your thoughts on a comment on the website or our episode post on Instagram @LivingJoyfullyPodcast. You’ll find that link in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for being here with us, and we’ll see you next time.