Reality Check: A Chosen New Year

You’re only one person, but I know that you play many roles. You may be a mother or a father. You may be a partner in a relationship. Each of us is, or has been, someone’s child. You may identify as a career person, a tradesperson, a caregiver, or some other kind of worker.

For some of those roles, once you have them, you have them forever. Once you’re a mom or dad, you are always a mom or dad. You can choose how much time or energy you devote to that role, but that’s part of who you are.

Other roles might seem to be fixed, but they really aren’t. For example, you might be a clerk but you could choose to be a welder. The change could be difficult; it’ll probably require a lot of work but it’s possible. To at least some degree, the work you do is a choice.

And some roles are clearly choices. We choose friends. Volunteering, by definition, is an expression of free choice. (Remember that if you ever feel coerced into “volunteering.”) We choose hobbies. We choose how we spend our “free” time. And in our role as consumers, we choose how we spend our money.

To be effective, we need to make the best use of our scarce resources—time, money and energy. We’ll be more satisfied if we know that we are directing those resources toward our priorities. How to do that?

One approach is to ask ourselves, “What is the best use of my resources?”

Everything we do requires some level of time, money or energy, doesn’t it? We don’t have infinite resources. We can’t do everything that we might want to do.

If you find that frustrating, try this perspective: How you spend your time says something about what your priorities are. If you spend a substantial amount of time on activities that don’t matter to you, then the new year is as good a time as any to reassess them.

Some activities may clearly not fit your priorities. This might be a good time to stop them.

Some activities may seem to be unconnected to your priorities, but you know they need to be done anyway. When you examine those, you might see that they do, in fact, contribute to your priorities.

For example, perhaps family is a priority for you. Family activities take time. Preparing meals, driving to sports events, helping with homework, even cleaning the house; it all takes time.

You know what? All of those activities contribute to family relationships, so you might as well enjoy them.

Try this perspective: “I’m deliberately choosing to clean this toilet. I do it for my family; it’s the most important use of my time right now and I’m doing a great job, too!”

As another example, if your role as a breadwinner is a priority for you, then try choosing a new perspective at work. Rather than choosing to be a passive employee, choose an active attitude. Express interest. Learn about your employer’s business. Observe, ask, improve. Working is more fun when you choose engagement and enthusiasm.

For my chosen new year, I want to develop a better understanding of people’s opinions, values and beliefs for my current project. What do folks believe? Where do opinions come from?

I’ll be choosing to ask questions and talk about ideas with interested people. So if my name pops up on your phone display; it could be because I want to understand what you believe and value.

By the way, if you are a clerk and you want to be a welder or anything in trades/technology, send me an email. I might be able to help.

What are you choosing for your new year?

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