Saturday, December 31, 2016

Passions, Priorities and Popcorn

Focus on the good. This is a phrase I have repeated time and time again. It's also the mental outlook I try to maintain throughout my daily life. I have spent the last month or so (Thanksgiving to Christmas) getting myself back on track with this concept....and it's been amazing. I was not intending to do a year-end wrap-up blog post, but I feel this idea ties my last year (and more) together pretty nicely.

The impending shipwreck image above jumped out at me as a great example for this concept of focusing on the good that I treasure so much. In general, shipwrecks are a bad thing. At the high end of the spectrum, people can lose their lives in a shipwreck. On the lesser, but still important side, personal property is lost or damaged. But there is still good that can come out of a shipwreck. This shipwreck analogy fits well with my passions, priorities and popcorn mindset I have these days.

We are all passionate about a variety of things. These are the things that make us feel like we're sailing our ship out in the open waters enjoying the wind in our hair, the freedom to go wherever we steer and the feeling of great accomplishment.

For years I have said I was passionate about a variety of things. Family and friends are always a passion. Blogging has been a passion for personal development and a chance to escape from the real world for moments at a time. Employee development and personal development in my career field has also been a passion of mine. I recently started wondering if passions change or do we just lose sight of why we were passionate about them in the first place.

You don't have to be a captain crashing your ship against the rocks to have your eyes opened to your true passion, but sometimes that's what it takes. As that captain with a passion for sailing, you might find your priorities changing after the shipwreck. You just lost your ship and might even be stranded on an island...alone. Sailing doesn't seem all that important anymore. You start thinking about survival. Staying alive is a top priority, but being alive in itself isn't the whole picture. Why do you want to stay alive? Is it merely to avoid death or is it something more?

Let's assume you stay alive on that island, but you're alone now. You quickly realize all the other things that are important to you in life. You miss your family and friends, electricity, running water, easily obtained and prepared food, your favorite tv shows, books to read, the internet...the list can go on and on and it's a little different for everyone. The point is that your passion for sailing probably isn't real high on your list following a shipwreck.

Most priorities are fairly easy to identify initially, but many have to be re-visited to remind you why they are a priority. While you're re-visiting your priorities, it is important to evaluate if your passions align with your priorities. This may or may not align with your concept of passion vs. priority, so I will explain my personal thoughts on this.

To me, a priority is just that...a priority. It should come first. Yes, you can be passionate about something that isn't a priority, but does it work against your priority? Setting your priorities should give you a number of activities that you can be passionate about to achieve those priorities. If your passions can't support your priorities, it may be time for a change.

I have gone through this process in the last month or so and made some amazing discoveries. I won't bore you with my list of changes in priorities and passions - because I don't want this to look like a New Year's resolution...because it's not. I have made a shift in how I live my life. For the purpose of this post, I will focus on just one change I have made - blogging.

I always felt I was passionate about blogging or writing, but as it turns out...I just enjoy it. It's an activity that lets me clear my brain at the end of the day and I do have fun with it. Yes, to some extent it helps me grow as a person, but not as much as it distracted me from my other priorities. My month hiatus from blogging showed me that it really didn't bother me all that much to not blog. My brain actually cleared out because I wasn't constantly "obsessed" with turning everything into a blog post. Blogging had almost turned into an addiction rather than a release.

The more important thing I found is that I was ignoring other priorities because of my blogging routine. Once I shifted my evening hours away from blogging and towards goal setting, priority shifting and planning, my life changed. My relationship with my wife and girls has improved. (It was always good, but there's also always room for improvement to get to great.) My personal development and health has improved by devoting time to myself for more than just "clear my head" blogging. My career is on track for advancement by developing my personal business skills needed for transitions at work.

I may not have experienced a shipwreck in my life, but it really feels like I saw the rocks ahead and made the appropriate course correction to avoid impact. It is very important to point out that sailing the "ship of life" isn't done by the captain alone. There is an entire crew on board that are equally affected when the ship crashes. More importantly, the crew is also there to help you stay on course and avoid the rocks.

I know you've been waiting to hear what in the world popcorn had to do with all this, so here it is. Priorities involve a bunch of simple little items as popcorn. In my case, having a family popcorn and movie night with my girls is a priority. My number one priority is my wife and girls. All my other priorities, goals and plans point to that number one priority. Popcorn and a movie with my girls isn't specifically on my list as a priority to check off, but rather one little piece of the main priority to be more involved with them and spend more quality time with them. On a side note, I'm running through the Weight Watchers program as part of a health goal for myself and (certain) popcorn is amazingly low on points as a snack - so it's a double win.

I am passionate about my family. I still have a lot of things I really enjoy doing like blogging, but I don't set them as priorities anymore. I will do them as often or as little as I choose, but I will not allow them to get in the way of my real priorities.

So if you notice that I seem to drop off the internet with rare posts here and there, don't be alarmed. I'm still here. I still love my blogging friends. I still get online and read what everyone's up to. I just won't be spending as much time generating blog content. Hopefully that means the posts I do write will be of only the best quality too. :)

My Saturday morning "personal time" on my schedule has now come to an end (Yes, it's actually on my daily/weekly agenda.), so I must be on my way to enjoy life. I encourage you to think about your own priorities and passions as I know many of you are setting New Year's resolutions today. Think of them as taking control of your life rather than wishful thinking as a resolution. I know you'll be happier and more likely to succeed if you set the right priorities and become passionate about succeeding. Until next time....