I have some deep thoughts for you this week. Stay with me because this one is really important! Recently I was challenged to think about the priorities in my life! I sat down and figured out what is important to me. Here is what I came up with.
My health is the most important thing to me. If I don’t have my health, I don’t have anything. Being healthy is what gives me great quality of life!
I had to further break this down. What contributes to health? What do I need to do to maintain my health? I realized that these were many of the things that I chat with you about in my weekly challenges:
- Eat nutritious food
- Move my body
- Spend time with friends and family (Social Wellness)
- Spend time outside
- Sleep Well (I haven’t talked about this one yet, but I will. It is important!)
- Reduce stress (I also need to write about this!)
Does Your Time Match Your Priorities?
After you figure out what is important to you, look at your typical day. How much time do you spend on the activities you just listed above? How much of your day is spent on things that are not important to you. If you noticed that the bulk of your time isn't spent doing what you prioritized- how can you improve?
Stacking your life
Stacking Your Life is a new concept that I learned recently from Katy Bowman (Author of Movement Matters). "Stacking Your Life" is doing one task that contributes to several goals at the same time. It isn’t multi-tasking, which is trying to do multiple tasks as the same time. Stacking Your life is a way to purposefully change your activities to better fit your life goals and priorities. There are only 24 hours in a day, so getting the most out of each hour is important!
Here is how I used the concept of "stacking my life" to use my free time to the fullest.
- Since eating healthy and spending time with family is important, my husband and I spend several hours together preparing healthy food for the week on weekends. This allows us time together. When our schedules get busier during the week, we have already prepared healthy meals so we don’t just grab takeout or go out to eat. Having a plan also reduces stress for me because I don’t feel the pressure to figure out a good dinner at the last minute.
- Movement is a priority. I want to move my body as much as possible every day. I also want to spend time with friends and family. I have decided to take my daughter on walks, rather than driving to the gym. I carry her in my arms to I get my upper body workout. This gets us both movement time, family time, and outdoor time. Rather than meeting friends out to eat (typically unhealthy food and too much sitting)- I meet friends for outdoor walks!). I also find that natural movement reduces stress. There have been times in my life where much of my social life was through my gym. Taking an inventory of your priorities will help you figure out what makes the most sense for you.
- When planning weekend activities, we keep our health goals in mind:
- Go for a walk at the arboretum instead of watching a movie
- Shop at a farmer’s market instead of a grocery store (outdoor time!)
- When it comes time to clean the house, we recently started setting a timer for 20 minutes each night and cleaning together during that time. While cleaning isn't listed as a "priority"- it is important because when it gets messy, both of our stress levels go up. Working on it together not only gets it done faster, but it becomes a family activity!
What have we cut out to help our life fit our priorities?
We used to spend quite a bit of time watching TV in the evenings. While we haven’t cut out all TV, we now go on family walks in the evening, and spend time on the floor playing with the baby. If the weekend was too busy for meal prep, week nights are our backup time for getting healthy food prepared.
My husband and I have noticed is that it is easy to get sucked into playing on our phones. Now we try to put our phones away as much as possible when we get home so we spend time together.
Does your money go toward your priorities?
We need money to live. We should not live to make money. It is important to consider where our money is going, and if this is in line with our priorities. Earning enough money can be an added stress and time user that makes our other goals hard to reach. Many of us spend 8+ hours each day working to make money for all of the other “things” in our lives. When my husband and I went through our budget- we found that there were some of these things that we spent money on that didn’t necessarily contribute to our goals and priorities. Obviously having a roof over our head, paying our utility bills, and putting good food on the table are crucial. but have you ever analyzed all of the other things that you buy that we often don’t really need? Here are some examples of some changes we’ve made:
- We have tried stop eating out at restaurants. It is more expensive for typically less healthy food.
- We look for free or cheap entertainment (e.g. parks, walking, games, etc.) since what we remember is the time spent together, and not whatever expensive show or event we might have missed.
- We don’t buy things just because they are on sale or cheap. Before buying something, we think- "Do we really need this?" If not, we leave it on the shelf. It’s amazing how much money you can spent on a little run to Target. Even with this mentality, we have still managed to accumulate our fair share of "things" and are working on selling/donating some of our extra possessions.
- When we had a family birthday party for our daughter- we valued spending time with our guests and feeding them good quality homemade food. We decided not to spend money on decorations and party favors.
- We don’t buy new cars, and are planning on driving our old cars for a very long time to avoid having a car payment
- We don’t live in a house that overstretches our budget. When buying a house, it is often easy to qualify for a house that stretches your budget adding stress each month. We find that we spend 90% of our time at home either in the kitchen, family room or bedroom- and don’t need a ton of extra square footage.
When you look at your cash flow, you might realize that you are spending quite a bit of money on things that don't add value to your life. Cutting in these areas could allow you to save more money, pay off your credit card, or decide that it would be okay to earn less money and spend less of your time working.
Everyday patients give me excuses about why they can’t eat healthy (too expensive, takes too much time), why they can’t exercise (no time), why they don’t get enough sleep, etc. My answer is that it is all about your priorities and choices. If something is a priority and important to you, then you will figure out a way to do it!
This week, think about what you value in life, and what would help you reach these priorities. How you could change your daily routine to make your life mirror your priorities?
I'd love to hear your ideas to "Stack You Life". Chat with me on facebook.
Dr. Jamie Thomure