January 02, 2014

Resetting Priorities

Note: This post is written more for me than for anyone else. But if you still choose to read it, I hope it encourages you to think about what are the priorities of your life. 

If you have task X and task Y, how to decide which one to give priority to? This is something that I have been struggling for quite long now. Basically I give preference to doing things that I either "like" or what I expect to bring "accolades"  or feel they shouldn't be left in the middle. Which means many times the more 'pressing' tasks or responsibilities get left behind.

By writing the following list, the idea is to set the record straight as what should be my priority in 2014. Of course, the following is not set in stone but I hope that it will serve as the guiding principle when I struggle to decide whether I should go to sleep or keep reading the book; whether I should finish writing the blog first or get ready for work instead and so on.

1. Family : Family first. Family first. You might have heard me saying this quite a few times. And I can't tell how much the family means to me (as it should for anybody). Now, only problem is that it's not usually family first, but family last instead. So many times, I have kept them awake because I was "working". So many times I have kept them waiting for dinner just because I wanted to finish watching a match or a TV-episode first. So many times they have to face inconvenience in order to fulfill one of my whims. 

So, screw everything that's given below. I don't care if I keep my promises, I don't care if I keep my resolutions. If family calls, it must really be family first. 

2. Promises: There have been certain periods of my life, where I have been a "man of my words". But that can't be said a lot recently. Quite many people can testify the number of times I have promised something to them, just because I "felt" I would be able to deliver but then disappointed them at the end. That of course, is more dangerous and embarrassing than having the guts to say NO to their faces at the starting only. 

There will always be more enticing opportunities or offers that come at the last moment. I don't want to be the 'manager' who tries to keep everyone happy and just barely scrapes through his promises. I don't want to be the guy who delivers one promise at the cost of screwing someone else.

If the time comes of conflicting interest, I hope I have the courage and the will to meet the original promise. More on this later in the month.

3. Resolutions: The resolutions I announced yesterday are deeply personal. They are kind of promises to self. I am ready to even forgo my health if it comes meeting the resolutions (although none of these resolutions are of that sort of degree).

4. Health: Which specifically means the routine of sleep/eat/exercise (that includes training for triathlon). Just like family this is one of the most neglected areas of my life. Last year, there were umpteen times when I had skipped sleep to watch a movie instead, I delayed or skipped my lunch breaks just so as to finish coding or debugging 'one more subroutine', I missed my training sessions of half marathon because I was too busy reading blogs instead. I don't intend to become the alpha male who is super disciplined but this sort of lethargy is unacceptable. I have a responsibility towards my body. It's a machine which needs to be maintained in order to take its full leverage.

5. Work : I will never accept this in person, but the truth is, this has remained my number 1 priority for quite long now. More than any of the stuffs mentioned above. Have you heard people saying "On their deathbed, nobody regrets not working enough in their life"? I think that is hard truth, right there.

I can't recall the number of times, I have skipped talking to friends, reaching out to family or taking care of my own health, just because I was 'working'. And 'working' is really a vague term. Most of what we do is just 'busy work' which does not have any long term effect. I do not mean to be unprofessional, I believe 'work' should be considered 'worship'. But only the work that really matters. And there has to be some uncrossable boundaries between your work and your rest of life.

6. Friends: I am myself surprised that this comes so low in the list. Friendship is a very sensitive topic to me. I take no time in cutting off from a person who disrespects my friendship. I am very critical of "Friendship Day", because I feel it's a modern day-gimmick which makes fun of the very bond of friendship. 

I have loads of acquaintances whom we call  'friends' in everyday terminology. They are fun to be with no doubt, and they do have an important place in life. But when it comes to REAL friends, I look for someone whom I can trust to be on my side even when I am in my 50s or 70s. A friend who talks to me because they really want to know what's going in my life, and not out of courtesy or just for the sake of conversation or because they want something from me. Only a handful people who come in that category, and I am very insecure about them. By the way, if you have more than 10 such friends, I am very interested to talk to you, do tell!. 

I feel guilty not having done enough for them (just like family). I hope I am able to put a lot more effort into strengthening our relationship, and find more time for them. This is one of the primary reasons behind the resolution of trying to become an 'extrovert'.

7. Experimenting/Learning : The resolutions I made are quite herculean and if I attempt all of them, I think I would be left with almost no time for anything else. Nevertheless, I am sure a lot of interesting things would come up as the year goes by and if I can afford I would definitely want to invest my time on them.

8. Everything else: This includes many things, like spending time on Internet (twitter, youtube, blogs), writing blogs, watching or reading news, watching movies or just wasting my time on useless things. I have never measured it but I know these take a really BIG chunk of my time. Again, I don't mean to be super-duper productive ninja but if I can at least minimize the time spent in this category, I would have more time for the above 7 which have a lot more importance.

Some of these items are intermingled, like learning something as part of work or a resolution, keeping a promise done to a friend etc. So, there will always be grey areas and they would have to be decided on a case to case basis. As I said these are not hardcore rules but a guideline on how to spend an average day. If I follow them, I think my day would be a lot more sane.