April 30, 2015

How to Take Control of Your Life: Establishing Your Priorities

Earlier this week, violence erupted in Baltimore after a young man died from injuries allegedly suffered while in police care.  Buildings and cars were torched and the police officers who were dispatched to maintain order were attacked by the protesters and looters.

Image courtesy of Iamnee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It was reminiscent of other riots in recent and not-so-recent news and equally as troubling.

Until one mother made a stand.

A video went viral of a mother reprimanding her ski-mask clad son who had been throwing rocks at police officers, smacking him and forcing him to return home.  "I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray," she told the reporter who followed up with her story, referencing the young man who died.

Soon afterward, more photos flooded social media of citizens stepping up and taking a stand - a young boy handing water bottles to the police officers in riot gear, men solemnly lined up to protect those same officers from those who would seek to do them harm.

"This is Baltimore," the captions read, proud and strong.  Their actions defied those who sought to destroy, to tear down what innocent people worked so hard to build up.  Resolution and determination was etched on their faces.

While most of us will never be in that situation, there is one thing we can discern from the actions of these individuals - the safety and security of their homes and families is their biggest priority.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are your priorities just as clear?  Do you even know what they are?

Look at your life.  Is it crazy busy?  Do you struggle to keep on top of things?  Do you miss appointments and find yourself late for, well, everything?  Is your relationship with your family rocky at best?  Are you there for your friends when they need you?  Are you happy?  Are you chasing your dreams or putting them on hold?

Whether you like it or not, the best indicator for where your priorities lie is not what you say, but your actions.  What consumes your day?  Meetings?  Lessons and classes?  Community events?  Social obligations?  Television?  Social media?  Video games?  How do you treat those you love?  How do you talk to them?  Do you keep your promises?

A woman I know claims her family is a priority in her life.  I've heard it often through the years - "You should always be there for family."  Admirable words, yet she has missed more important events in their lives than she's attended.  When she does blow into town, her visits are far too brief.  She spends months traveling for herself, but only hours with those she loves.  Her actions are a clear indication her priorities are not what she claims them to be.

What do your actions say about you?

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A man comes home from work and immediately turns on the TV, paying more attention to it than his wife and children?  Where do his priorities lie?

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Or the wife who spends hours on her phone surfing Facebook, Pinterest, or playing games, ignoring her family and friends who are right in front of her.  What is truly important to her?

Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What about those who always put work first?  Or those who spend hours playing video games and almost no time on schoolwork, chores, or family obligations?  Or those who can't turn down an invitation or request from others, but whose personal dreams and goals go unfulfilled?

Do your priorities line up with what you envision your life to be?  If not, it's time to take control.  Make a stand.  Turn off the TV.  Put down the smart phone.  Learn to say "no" and mean it.  Limit your activities to only those you love the most.  Set goals.  Organize your life.  Spend time with those you love and let them know just how much they mean to you.  Chase your dreams.

Just as those in Baltimore have made a stand and taken control of the chaos infesting their neighborhoods, it's time for your to make a stand and take control of your life.

Because if you don't, it will control you.

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