A rule of thumb that comes in handy when resetting priorities is the 1/3 rule.  Our lives, in general, should be divided into these thirds: personal, family/friends, goals/path/profession.  The most common response to my talking about this rule is laughter because such a thing is obviously impossible for a great many reasons which they can start listing off in priority order.  Funnily, this somewhat proves my point.  The reason I bring up this rule is that the first section, personal, is something the client or friend or student has deprioritized to the point it isn’t there.  They have made a great deal of effort to construct their life so that there is no life in it, not for them.  Since they have worked to make it that way, they can work to unmake it and then remake it in a much healthier form.

Once we’ve gotten over the hurdle of “that’s not possible” and into the area where they are able to consider what I’m saying, we get into the confusion around what is meant by personal. Some of how we construct our priority list is to say that things which give us personal satisfaction are items in the personal column.  Things such as spending time with the kids, teaching classes, cooking meals, running errands all get called personal time, but they actually aren’t.  Running errands to make sure you have things you need is preparing for personal time, it isn’t actually personal time.  It falls into the goals/path/profession category as it achieves the goal of actually having what you need for personal time.  Being with the kids can be a joy, but as much as kids are a blessing they aren’t partners who give to us in equal measure to what we put out. If they are being treated that way there are huge boundary violations going on. Teaching classes is rewarding, but like parenting, you as the authority figure are giving and the rewards are in achieving a goal and a job well done so path column.  It’s giving energy out, not getting it put in. As for cooking meals, if you’re doing it for yourself and only yourself to nurture yourself, then personal.  If not, then most likely family/friends.

So drilling down to what is personal can be a bit of a challenge. Habits of a lifetime don’t change overnight. Recognizing that we have mislabeled things means we have to go back and change the labels only to realize that our bin of “personal” is pretty dang empty.  So what goes in there? Us.  Each of us is a piece of divinity, a divine light which deserves to be nurtured and cared for and loved and valued as much as our children, our family and probably more than our jobs.  If luscious thoughts of what you could do with personal time don’t come rushing to your mind, don’t fret.  All you have to do is sit quiet for a few minutes, letting everything else stay quiet because you’ll get to it all in a moment, and what you’ll find is that ideas come shyly forth from the shadows, unsure of their welcome.  They are in there.  They’ve just been told that they have no place in your life for so long they aren’t sure if they are going to be welcome.  If you make 1/3 of your day a sacred place for you, you’ll start having the life you’ve always wanted and have more to offer everyone else in your life.