I changed a car battery for the first time today. For me this was a cause for celebration, though you may be wondering why a 43-year-old woman has never changed a car battery before. I can’t get the alternator tested before tomorrow, because I don’t have a voltmeter, but if the alternator is bad I’ve already looked up how to replace it and I think I’ll take a stab at that.
What is this, a sudden hankering for a career as a mechanic if I ever find the management consulting fees running thin? Not really – I hate getting my hands dirty and I’ve noticed that working on the car tears up your clothes. It’s actually an important lesson in prioritization, and a reflection on the nature of time.
Have you ever told someone you didn’t have time to go to dinner with them, or didn’t have time to stop and play in the yard? It probably didn’t feel like you were lying, but it was a lie. In fact, every time I have said to my children “I don’t have time to run you to the mall right now,” what I have really been saying is “running you to the mall isn’t as important as something else I am doing.”
Do I feel bad about that? Not necessarily, but sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know that you have priorities, but to do that you have to know what they are first! Many times in the past I have been unclear with others regarding what I would or would not do, because I understood at some level that my priorities were whacked but I couldn’t get myself back on track.
Life is all about prioritization. For instance, I’m actually quite good at mechanical things. Hot water heaters, swamp coolers, assembling furniture – these tasks have always been mine, and I enjoy them. Well, I enjoy them when I have time for them, which I almost never had. Oh, wait, I DID have time. I just wasn’t making those things a priority, and when I did carve out the time to do them, I did them somewhat resentfully because doing them prevented me from finishing a proposal or catching up on email, or I knew that I was getting further behind in something and that I wouldn’t like the consequences.
How will I prioritize my life and work going forward? I would like to think I have learned some important lessons in this regard. I genuinely like working (and have been known to hide behind work), but I also had a lot of fun changing that battery today! There are things we miss out on in life if we don’t identify that they are important to us. Simply recognizing they are important is a first step. Identifying how much time each deserves is the second.
It’s great to know I have as much time as I need! (it’s taken me until my 40s to learn that too). It just isn’t as much time as I want, or as much time as I could use. But it’s enough. And it’s all good.
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