What are your priorities?

Kids, career, other…

Within those, what are your priorities?

If you feel like you don’t have enough time for what you want to do, what can you outsource?  What can you stop doing?  What can you de-prioritize?

If there’s not enough money to outsource, where can you get the money?  Or where can you get the time?

Don’t feel like you have to break the stick: work around the stick, let it bend, change its environment.  Figure out which sacrifices are easiest to make, and which aren’t worth making.

I get it… it’s hard with a special snowflake or a demanding career, and maybe you want to give up the career or maybe you want to keep striving in it.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  I haven’t watched a tv show in weeks… we still have netflix from months ago.  Right now those aren’t my priorities.  Maybe you need a housecleaner or to let your house become messy.  Maybe your partner needs to step up and take on some responsibilities, or your kids.  Maybe it’s time to hire a college student to chauffeur or give enrichment lessons or tutor or take the kids to the playground (my colleagues do all of these).

#2 chimes in:  lazy housework FTW.  I find I even have to prioritize within categories, e.g., food.  Do I want it low-calorie, high-protein, easy, fast, cheap, full of veggies, locally grown, tasty?  All these things can sometimes work together but all of them at once will probably conflict.  So I have to focus on only one or two at a time.  Right now I’m looking at calories but also trying to eat lots of protein.  So I put more emphasis on those, and ignore the cost of the food (and some other things).

Retirement savings vs. extensive travel now?  What’s worth spending on?  Fund retirement or save for a house?  (Both!)

Priorities are hard!  Making decisions initially will drain some willpower, but once you have a system set up, it should (!) simplify everything.

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23 Responses to “What are your priorities?”

  1. feMOMhist Says:

    time = family, work, exercise
    $ = savings, memories, time
    food = low calories, fresh, tasty
    house = laundry,/groceries, sanitary, living areas tidy

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    These are such critical questions, and yes, the priorities are hard hard hard. We all have to make trade-offs, and for some of us, they aren’t “easy” trade-offs either. I suspect there are millions of us in this situation – but at least we still have a roof and food on the table even if we don’t have other things so many argue over (and assume we have, or we don’t have because of choices we’ve made). But millions are far worse off. Our “basics” look luxurious to them.

    We should all take a trip to another culture or for that matter – a few neighborhoods in our own cities – to see what is really essential and how fortunate we are.

    More specifically – my house is generally messy (no time, no energy, small space) and I’ve learned to live with it. I manage the food budget very tightly while still eating healthy, but when kids come back from school (summer) it gets very very tricky. Work? I am one of those who puts in far too many hours. When you’re an independent, you have periods of work and periods of no work (unfortunately). Some of us literally never say no to a paying job; everything shuffles to fit around that, and we’re grateful for those periods!

  3. Linda Says:

    #2 I’ve been fitting in a lot of veggies and fruit each day by making them into smoothies. I’ve been surprised at how yummy and filling it can be to throw whole fruits and veggies (like celery, greens, etc.) into the blender in the morning. I started doing this only a week ago once I got my bottom braces on and found it painful and difficult to chew, not because I dediced to join the “cult” of green smoothie advocates. But it’s really working for me on lots of levels, so even though chewing is getting easier I’m going to stick with this for a while. Maybe it will work for you, too, as a way to get lots of veggies, fruit and protein. Make a big fruit/veggie smoothie and add a scoop of protein powder, nut butter, milk, yogurt or an egg (if you have a source of raw eggs that you trust) and you’ve got pretty much your full amount of veggies and fruits for the day, plus enough protein to keep you going.

  4. rented life Says:

    Interesting. Husband and I just talked on Saturday about how our priorities have dramatically changed, thanks to a few life experiences in the last 12 months. Currently we’re sorting out financial priorities, (see my blog question about life insurance), and $ wise our goal is to keep getting the credit card debt down. (Then we’ll focus on student loans.) The idea is if we get the card debt down, a house can be a reality again. I’ve been making my body a priority lately too (4 days of cardio last week! go me!).

    For cleaning–I have levels of cleaning. There’s the spring cleaning mode (which doesn’t just happen in spring), where we really need to get rid of stuff we don’t need/want/use–this is also when we tend to donate to goodwill. There’s cleaning that I few every couple months (usually because I need to relieve work stress and cleaning produces visible results) and there’s “good enough” cleaning–this is for company, short notice. Good enough is freeing–are there places to sit? Put drinks? No cat toys for elderly relatives to trip on? etc. The only place that really needs to be clear is the kitchen–it’s small and we both like to cook so having the little space there is clear is crucial! (husband is great at making sure this happens). I won’t outsource, having been the person others outsource too (alone and with a company). It’s not worth it….People pay your maids more and PLEASE let us know if laundry is something you need us to do before we get hired.

  5. karifur Says:

    My priorities:
    (1) Marriage
    (2) Kids
    (3) Other Family
    (4) Career
    (5) Self

    I know I should put myself higher up on that list but it’s an ongoing problem for me. For example, I haven’t spent time playing video games in months – and my older child (age 14) just told me the other day that he misses playing video games with me. So even though I’m not especially motivated to play games, I will probably start playing more games because it’s a priority for my son, and he is a priority for me.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Since my mom refused to play games with me growing up, I don’t feel bad refusing to play games with my kid growing up. (Oddly, as a grandmother, my mom has no problem playing games with DC– they had a spirited game of hide-and-seek with my sister last weekend, something I don’t think my mom has played since she was at least a teenager.)

      That doesn’t mean DC isn’t a priority for me or that my mom didn’t love me, just that there are other things for us to do together that I prefer. DC can play games with DH since he actually enjoys them.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    I don’t really have career “priorities.” I don’t especially want to advance any higher on the corporate ladder as I’m generally quite content to be a well-paid worker bee who almost never has to travel for work or work overtime. :-) My focus at my job is to do what I’m asked to do promptly, efficiently, and correctly, and then to see if there’s anything else I can do to help my team; and then to keep quiet, keep my space clean, and MMOB.

    Time … 9 hours per weekday goes to the job, and most of my personal business gets done during this time. 7 hours (should be 8, but realistically) goes to sleeping. That leaves 8 hours for me me me. About 2 goes into keeping house. Tidying, cleaning where necessary, taking care of the cats & garden, meal-planning, shopping, and cooking. Another hour goes to exercise. Another goes to grooming. That leaves 4 hours a day and these hours are mostly spent in company with DH, whether working on our dancing, having a drink and talking, or just hanging out watchin’ TV. So 4/24 hours or 1/6 of my time is spent on my relationship.

    Money … obv, paying the bills comes first. Then saving. Then fun. And we have a lot of fun. :-)

  7. femmefrugality Says:

    Housework has definitely taken a backseat around here lately. We don’t let it get disgusting, but it’s never quite perfectly clean, either. We’ve got too much going on with school, kiddos, and work. (And blogging? haha I’d be remiss if I pretended that didn’t take time and wasn’t a relative priority. Though I have been finding ways to optimize and limit my time in front of the screen.)

  8. Chillax: The (Adolescent?) Art of Stress Management | Big Little Wolf's Daily Plate of Crazy Says:

    [...] walk may not be the respite I would like, but as Nicole and Maggie remind us with their musing today – we all juggle, and we all must [...]

  9. oilandgarlic Says:

    I think my main problems are 1) my husband have the same priorities in general but different solutions. For me, time with family is key and that would involve moving. Since he freelances, he just doesn’t see the importance of spending a lot more $ for me to be closer to home. He’ll offer other solutions like hiring cleaning help so I don’t have to clean when home, but has no idea the toll of commuting. We hit an impasse where he says we should move but then changes his mind again… 2) priorites are ever-changing. I think sometimes I really really need alone time/time for self or really miss my friends but then other times, I’m content with my current life which centers around family,kids and work.

  10. Barb Says:

    My husband and I are in our mid-50’s and have recently downsized drastically, slowed our business to the level that just the two of us can handle and have decided to travel, extensively and frugally. We’ve decided to do this while we’re physically able, have made extensive preparations to do so, are empty nesters and content to forego social life w friends in Colorado. Looking forward to meeting other wanderers in our journeys. Does it feel like a great big leap of faith? Absolutely! But what is life if not an adventure? A lot of people tell us they’d like to do the same, but……and there’s always that but. We know because we’ve stared down so many ourselves. It is, as you say, about priorities.

  11. bogart Says:

    Funny you should ask. Musing over this I realize staying put is a high priority … I Iive in the town where my dad does, him with dementia in a nursing home, and while our relationship would not fit neatly on a matchbox cover and he doesn’t really deserve it, I find I’m committed to staying here so he can age, and decline, as stably as feasible. Ditto my mom, though she’s currently (and hopefully ad infinitum) independent, but aging, of course, and grandmother to my son, who’s starting school. I know others disagree, but I see much value to staying in place for K-12 (mostly, I don’t think a sabbatical year away would be nuts in the context of overall stability). And my stepkids are nearby, though one closer than the other, and both showing signs of moving toward kids of their own, and my hubby happy here. All this is in context of this being a good place to live and (comparatively) opportunity-rich, job-wise, though that’s put my originally chosen career (faculty) out of reach, or, more accurately, I could probably have, and possibly (though not obviously) still could, done what colleagues of mine have done, which is parlay non-tenured and/or staff-with-teaching-responsibilities into something resembling (or truly) a faculty job. But truthfully, I’d rather be staff than staff-qua-faculty as I fear the merging of the roles blurs rights and responsibilities (and really, they’re a bit blurred in my case anyway, but not so much that I don’t have the rights and benefits associated with being staff which, though not perhaps as good as “good” faculty jobs, are probably better than “murkily faculty-like staff jobs”).

    Career … well, I was kind of resigned to having a job that is good but not great but that pays enough and has enough perqs to be worth not departing from, but it’s looking like a grant proposal I initiated may actually get funded, in a snatched-from-the-flames (well, from the federal budget, but really what’s the difference?) sort of way. If that really does get funded (…) then I’m going to get to be involved with something I. Really. Want. to. Do., and truthfully that + one or at most 2 more awards (assuming 5 years) could be enough to get me to where I’m ready (in a PF sense, not necessarily a career sense — time will tell) to be done with this work stuff. So. Or, you know, the funds may yet not come through.

    And yes, travel, and fun. See above re: perqs (decent PTO), and as the kid gets older and easier to travel with, I’m really hoping to log some miles: many places to go (and much extended family to visit). Though we do need to work, too, on getting our PF more in order (see prior comments re: this subject). For us that’s mostly a juggling act, a bit here (improving PF) a bit there (taking a trip). This has been a very low-budget year, related to some big PF stuff like a WHACK! associated with a Roth conversion, but not in a bad way, because we do enjoy close-to-home trips pretty much as much as farther away ones (and in some ways, more).

  12. mareserinitatis Says:

    Somehow, taking care of marriage, kids, and self (primarily health) are highest priority, but which is a higher priority generally depends on what crisis is happening in the moment. Then the next thing is getting this PhD thing done, and finally house and critters. Everything beyond that is icing on the cake. I do wish I had more time to spend with friends, though, and about 2 or 3 times a year, I will tell my husband I just need to leave for the weekend and be with friends or even by myself for a sanity break. (I also wish I could do that more, but it’s just not practical…)

  13. Leigh Says:

    Right now:
    1) Fitness/health – I’ve been finding 4-5 evenings a week to be active in addition to the 15 miles I walk to and from work an whatever other walking I do each week.
    2) Career
    3) Dating (I’m finally starting to admit to myself that meeting someone before I get too far along in my career is probably for the best…)
    4) Keep on saving (less of a priority since it comes naturally)

  14. Rumpus Says:

    lazy mowing!


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