Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pickin' and Choosin'

Feeling overburdened and fatigued? Let's skip past all the usual suspects and get right to the root cause. As much as you might have hoped for a treatable physical condition, it's not fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue or mono. You may experience stress and anxiety, but they're symptoms, not causes. While causal, sleeping less and sleeping poorly are not root causes.

Nope. None of these is the culprit. The real culprit is decision-avoidance. Pretty much everything else is symptomatic of your not wanting to choose... choose which of the spinning plates must fall... choose which of the needy can take care of themselves... choose to accept what is and to make it great.

That's pretty much it. If you're feeling stressed or just plain fed-up, then the path to a happier future probably lies in making choices.

What's that you say? You have no choice?

C'mon now. You always have choices. Note that I didn't say "find a choice", I said "make a choice." Choices are created, not discovered. You can whip one up out of pretty much anything you have on hand. However, some of the best choices seem to be composed of well understood personal priorities.

Speaking of personal priorities, how many of your priorities of late are your priorities. I understand that if you're doing them, they're your priorities. However, there is an important distinction I'd like to call out: primary versus secondary versus tertiary priorities.

Primary priorities are the ones you would hold if you had no one depending on you or asking you for anything. This goes beyond your family, friends and colleagues. It includes bill collectors, banks, credit card companies, etc. Primary priorities are the ones you would have if you absolutely and positively had nothing that you must do.

Secondary priorities are the ones that you make important because they're important to someone who is important to you. They're not the ones you would pick if alone. However, they're the ones that someone you love has chosen.

Tertiary priorities are the ones you hold because you want to support someone you love in her pursuit of her secondary priorities.

We could continue down the chain. However, I would suggest that anything that might be classified beyond tertiary isn't worth considering.

Stress, anxiety, fatigue and anger tend to result from an overabundance of tertiary and secondary priorities. So you may want to cut back on some of them. This involves a bit of research. First, you want to ask the person whose hand-me-downs you're maintaining whether or not he actually consider the hand-me-down important. You may be surprised. He may say, "No."

If she says yes, you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to continue. As you consider this be aware of the word "need". It's exceptionally rare for someone to truly "need" you to implement her priorities. It's almost always a case of want or convenience.

If you decide to continue with a secondary or tertiary priority, then decide to embrace it fully. Love it. Enjoy it. Make it a delight. If not, then clearly and matter-of-factly inform the hand-downer that you're no longer accepting hand-me-downs of that nature and move on.

An alternative to choosing what not to do is to become more intimate with your primary priorities. Explore them. Make them big. As you do so, they'll displace others.

Forget about the new diet. Forget about the exercise plan. Forget about seeing a doctor or getting away. It's time to make lasting change, time to pick and choose what's important to you.

Happy Wednesday,

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