Growing up my father taught me that most of the things we have to do in our lives fall into three “to do” categories. He classified our daily task as things we “have to do,” “ought to do,” and “want to do.” He would say that very few things in life do we “have to do,” and as we (my older brother and I) become men with purpose, there would be fewer “want to do” items in our lives. He taught us that the “ought to do” items will be the ones that define us. There are many things in the pursuit of being a great man that you “ought to do,” but most will find they do not do them because they are not willing to sacrifice the “want to do” items in their lives. The “ought to do” items in our lives are what help us live a life of service and help us give to others more than to ourselves.
I have always found this idea about our lives “to dos” an extremely valuable lesson and a simple way to define my priorities in life. But, I have also come to learn that we must make time for some of the “want to” items in our life as well.
My last blog post focused on prioritizing taking care of yourself. I wrote this post as my school district was heading out on a two week fall break. During that break, I worked for the first week to get as caught up as possible, and then took the second week off. A little time away is great but I also struggle in this down time.
During “school time” I can get hyperfocused on my daily work to the point where I become very distracted at home. I lose track of what I am doing, where I am going when I am driving, and I forget to finish tasks I have started as my mind wonders back to thinking about missions and passions of the school day. I am basically, getting to caught up in the “ought to do” tasks of my job, so much so, that I forget about almost everything else.
I often continue with these “ought to do” tasks even when I try to take a break. I think that in the time I take off I should get caught up on my professional reading list, or just answer this one last email for the day. I tried this break to get away from as many of the professional “ought to do” items as possible, and take some time to focus on some “want to do” things for a week. I slept in later than normal, I watched some movies with my kids, I tried to go a day without making a single decision, and so on.
I will admit, it was hard as I felt guilty at times for being less than productive during this week- not starting or finishing some around the house tasks. But, during this first week back after break, I am reminded how important it is to take some time for the “want to” items in our personal life. I have felt great this week. Even though I may have not accomplished all of the things I felt like I “ought to do” in my time off, I know I will ultimately accomplish more in the long run because I took some time for myself.
I am going to try my best to schedule some time for a few “want to” items each day as we finish this semester. I would really like to: get back to finding a few minutes of quiet time each day; get back to taking gratitude walks each day; get back to taking the time to read things that I want to each day; get back to leaving a little more work at work so I can spend some time each evening with my family.
I believe that time is not really the factor that keeps us from getting things done, but you hear people always complaining about not having enough. Time is the only thing, no matter who you are or where live, that is exactly the same for every human being. We all have 24 hours in the day…no more…no less. All that time does is to force us prioritize what is really important. We will always take time for what we find important in our lives! If you are not taking time for something, then no matter what you say, it is not a priority in your life.
I challenge you to do the same each day. Take time for some “want to do” items in your life. Our character may be defined by how you handle the things on “ought to do” list, but we also have to remember that a life with no time given to the “want to do” items can drain you, and ultimately make what you accomplish less over a long period of time.
Keep learning; keep growing; keep sharing!