Priorities, from what I can gather, simply means “what you put first” (prior-ities. What is prior to what else.), which makes sense. Do you value your career more than your Instagram feed? Well it would make sense to do so, and thus you are putting your career first. You prioritise that over your social media feed. If you’re not sure which to put first, I hear there are people whose jobs it is to moderate, create or administrate those platforms, so, hey, I guess there’s a workaround. My point is this: if you become too focused on what isn’t important, if you misprioritise and spend more time on things you don’t really consider to be important to you, broadly speaking, then you’ll find it hard to get to a place you’d want to be. It’s quite simple. It applies to nearly everything. If you want to learn how to play the piano, you’re going to need to get out of bed and put your phone down for a while in order to spend more time doing that than other, less important things.
It’s difficult at times to truly embrace this concept. We have so many distractions in our world; hooks specifically designed to catch your eye and render you addicted to them. Little dopamine-providers, giving you just enough satisfaction to have you come back for more and more, whilst maintaining the deniability to say “well it’s the user’s choice to use our platform/website/app/etc, we just want to make it good enough that people come back!” A truly valid and reasonable defence. Even putting aside the abundance of data-gathering from such a huge sample size over so long which can lead to an incredible service-tailoring specifically and clinically designed not to be user friendly, but rather addictive, which seems to almost give these virtual worlds an almost evil-seeming inclination, there are problems which arise from them.
Similar to other hooks, “real” ones such as drug-dependency, sex-addiction, alcoholism, church-going, horoscope-readings and all the rest, it can skew our value-systems and priorities. If you want to save up for a mortgage or a new car, you need to prioritise saving money over trivial expenses. You can’t go out every weekend and spend hundreds of <insert currency here> and you can’t give all your money to palm-readers every month (please just don’t anyway), unless you’re lucky enough to earn enough money to accomplish this as well. In that case, however, your priorities are shifted; you earn more, which means you don’t have to scrimp and save as much to get the thing(s) you want, therefore saving becomes a lower priority. It’s fairly basic economical Mathematics. You just need five minutes and a calculator. One must try to find out exactly where his or her priorities lie, because it’s important to know where to draw the line between what you may want to do impulsively, and what you know you should do rationally. If you want a new car and you have a certain deadline, for example, before its next service is due, then you can work out more easily where to start prioritising saving and spending. I need x-amount in three months, I have y-amount already, therefore I need to set aside (x-y)/3 every month. Or roughly (x-y)/14 every week. That is fairly easy to work out, and when you have the choice between a party which will cost you more than you can afford with regards to saving, then you know in your logical brain that you need to decline.
If only it were that simple.
Many of us would justify splashing out “JUST THIS ONCE,” which ends up becoming more than that invariably, in order to enjoy ourselves because we would rather t=have that in the specific moment of the decision being made than the more pragmatic purchase at a later date. We are often bad at delaying gratification, a phenomenon which becomes the root of all evils. It is the reason behind pretty much every mistake you make. Rash decisions, regrets and hurting others comes primarily from failure to think to the future properly and make the right sacrifices. Strive to use your rational brain more if you want to actually succeed at things. Impulses don’t lead to long-term stability or sustainability. It’s the same in politics, when one government party decides to overspend because of whatever reason, without caring how it may later affect the budget. Besides, the next people can worry about that. This is analogous to “future me can deal with that.” You know that, really, it’s better to sort out whatever it is when you first get the chance in case you don’t get a chance later before it’s too late. I can imagine that everyone has had to deal with this at some point.
Personally, I am more interested in things like success and progression and ambition than I am in, say, spiritual meditation. Hence, I don’t really spend much (any) time doing that. I suppose I do practise an alternative form of that, since I often reflect on things which may be bothering me or any problems I might be facing, and I find that it’s just as effective (more so, in fact) than anything spiritual I’ve ever had to do. It affects many of my decisions and priorities. Some people equivalate spirituality with self-care, and this isn’t quite so. It is a form of caring for oneself, however it isn’t the only way to do so. Taking care of yourself can be eating well, exercising and taking time to relax occasionally, even if you’re busy. It can be indulging from time to time by eating at a nice restaurant, it can be videogames, film-nights, popcorn and Maltesers, frequenting the discotheque (the most awful way of saying “going clubbing”) or reading my amazing book which you can buy here. It’s important to take time for yourself and prioritise that. Being completely self-focused, however, means you’ll get nothing done and you’d be overindulging. You would be lazy, hedonistic and practically useless to the society and community around you if you only thought about yourself like that.
The way I view it is that you, your self and your life are a hearth. Some modest fire in a dainty home. This home is the world around you. When you interact with the home, you’re affecting the external world. If you leave the fire unattended for too long, when you focus too intently on your career or work or gossip magazines, you might find that your fire dims or burns out. If you put a log that’s too big for your fire onto it, you may snuff out the flame too. Regularly providing the right-sized logs will keep it going. Cleaning out the chimney regularly enough and keeping it all clean will shift the way you view yourself. Keep on top of taking care of yourself wisely, and you can warm your home enough to be productive elsewhere. You’ll be able to handle the rest of it, the career, the workload, the studying, the relationships and all the important bits and pieces. If you fail to take care of the home, it may get dusty and dirty. Unwelcome inhabitants may start to reside there, and these parasitic spiders can cause unwanted grief. You can sit and stare into the fire, but at some point, you start denying that anything outside you matters, all the while you’re leaving your home to tarnish and dilapidate. By the time you start wanting to make a change in the outside world, your roof has fallen through, the cobwebs are as sturdy as steel cables, the pests are rampant and multiplying and you have to work mighty hard to get that back on track. Prioritising is finding when to clean your house and when to remember to put another log on the fire, when to wake up early and prepare your day properly and when to lie in and read a good book. It’s unsustainable to try and focus too much on either, and thus it’s imperative to take that time and figure out what you really want and what you’re willing to do – and often what you’re willing to lose – in order to obtain it. Are you able to stop looking at your Facebook 24/7 in order to make time to study effectively? Are you willing to not go fishing every weekend in order to spend more time with your family you hardly know? What makes sense to you, without pretending that the easy way is the best way. Our fantasies and ambitions can be infinite, so I doubt that, when you think about it, there’s nothing you want in life. Even if that's just one day being able to be self-sufficient and live on a mountain somewhere with only a goat for company. We all want something, perhaps something far-fetched for some, but it's something. If not, we wouldn't be here. Maybe what you want is simply to find out what you want, which makes sense if, like myself, you don't exactly adhere to religious callings or classical definitions of "meaning," "purpose," and "existence." Make the most of the oxygen you’re given, regardless of what you believe, because wastefulness is abhorrent and unnecessary.
Prioritise things correctly so that neither yourself, nor the factors by which you determine your place in the world, need suffer.