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Thinking About What’s Important

Last weekend, a good friend of mine moved out of state with his family, so I came out to help them load the truck.

There is something about the process of moving that affects us on so many levels, I could write a whole series of “Think Right Thursdays” just about the many emotional facets of moving. But there was one thing that caught my attention and kept me thinking long after I had pulled out of their driveway.

There came a point where they were almost out of room on the truck and they had to start making decisions about what to leave behind. When you’re moving across town, you can make several trips, but when you are moving across the country like my friend did, you have one opportunity to load the truck, so you have to be really deliberate and intentional about what goes on.

Hard Choices

Some choices are easy. The beds, the couch, the dinner table, the kitchen utensils, everyone’s clothes – those are the non-negotiables for most people. On the next rung of priority, you might have the TV, the desk items, the DVD collection, the antiques, the decorative items, the souvenirs. Everyone’s priorities are different. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say.

But then it gets hazy. When you have to choose between a box of Christmas decorations and a box of extra blankets, which way do you go? What about choosing between a box of board games or a favorite chair? When you have ten boxes in the house and room for three of them in the truck, how do you choose? At that point (hopefully), the non-negotiables already have their place, but what about the things you’d like to keep, but aren’t sure if they’ll fit?

Sometimes, priorities aren’t enough. Sometimes, you have to get down some difficult decisions, on a tactical, brass-tacks level. Sometimes, there are no easy answers.

On top of that, what do you do when six people have boxes they want to put into those three spaces on the truck? How do you reach that compromise when others are involved? And how do you say goodbye to the items that didn’t get packed? I know that sounds silly, but when you’re in the moment, and it’s your stuff, and it’s your emotions, and it’s your memories packed into boxes and you will never, never, never see them again, how do you choose? How do you let go? How do you grieve?

Everybody faces these kinds of decisions at different times in our lives. Now, the stakes are not usually this high, but sometimes they are. I know of single moms with four kids who have to decide each day which ones get to eat. No parent should ever have to face those kinds of decisions, but some are in that place right now. There are times in our lives when things that have been important to us have to be left behind for good. Sometimes, there aren’t enough seats for everyone to sit in the lifeboat. It sounds harsh, but sometimes, the choices we are forced to make are that emotionally charged. Some choices really do seem like they are life-and-death deals. I don’t want to minimize the emotional experience at all. That kind of pain is real and valid.

What Goes? What Stays?

At one point, I heard my friend say, “If we unload this truck and I find that one box full of unnecessary junk kept an important box from making the cut, I am going to be very upset.”

Do you know how many times I have gotten to the end of the day and realized that something unimportant took time away from something important? Do you know how frustrating that is?

Of course you do. It’s a universal reality. In fact, Steven Covey wrote about it in his best-selling book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Put simply, there are tasks that are urgent, and tasks that are not. And there are tasks that are important, and tasks that are not. The most streamlined life is the one that spends the most time on things that are important and urgent.

When you fill your days with activity, make sure that the important things get their place in the schedule first, just like my friends’ bed and dresser made it into the van first.  Sometimes, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want, need, or are expected to do, but more often there are things cluttering your time and your mental space that could be set aside to make room for things that really are important.

So, What Is Important To You?

You can tell me all day long what your priorities are, but I can tell you what your priorities REALLY are by what I find in your calendar and your checkbook.

  • Is exercise important to you? Is it a part of your daily routine? If so, then it really is important to you. If not, then…well…not so much.
  • Is your prayer time important to you? How much of your time does it take up?
  • Is your family important to you? What evidence do they have? And I don’t care what anyone says, “quality time” is not a substitute for”quantity time.”

If something that really is important to you is getting squeezed out of your life by something unimportant, it’s time to take back charge of your day. I have to be mindful of this all the time or my life will be overrun with minutia.

Every day is your choice. You might think you are being pushed around by your boss, your family, and a list of other people, but you have the choice to walk away from all that. We all choose who we let control our lives, either because of fear or a sense of obligation. Choose what you want in your life, and what you don’t want.

If you’re planning a move in the near future, I encourage you to take careful inventory of what you have, what you need, and what you really want before you put one thing in a box. It will save you time, stress, and money. But just as important, I encourage you to take careful inventory of your possessions, relationships, and obligations. Do they add to your life or detract from it? Choose wisely.

I think I will be coming back to this move in future “Think Right Thursdays.” There were a lot of good lessons that I picked up and want to share with you.

If this was helpful to you, take a few seconds to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. Let’s see who else we can help, especially if helping people is one of your priorities. This is an easy way to make a difference in someone’s life.

Also, one of the best things you can do for others is show them they are not alone as they go through the challenges of life. I’d be so grateful if you’d share your comments on Facebook about some hard choices you’ve had to make and how you finally made them. Your personal story might just be the answer for someone else who is going through a hard time right now.

Oh, by the way… if you live in the Naples area, be sure to join me tonight for our Fundamental Foods dinner at our office on Pine Ridge Road. RSVP on Facebook and bring along something to share. We always have a great time. These dinners get bigger and more fun each month.

Otherwise, have a terrific weekend.

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

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