Last month, fellow blogger, Suzanne, posted a challenge on Life Out Loud. She wrote, "Almost everything I do has a purpose toward a greater goal. The tasks may change under the heading, but the heading will never change - Physical, Social, Fiscal, Spiritual, Family, Creativity and Community. Those seven little words establish a foundation that give meaning to my days."
She issued a challenge to her readers to pick words that represent a balance in one's approach to life and prioritize them. Then, for thirty days track what is done under each category. At the end of the month, how closely does your actual time spent match up with what you say is important?
That is the type of challenge I enjoy. I am always interested in how I spend my time and whether I am using it in a way that aligns with what I believe is important to me. So, I found a small notebook and began to record how much time I was spending each day in each of the headings. To keep things simple I used the same seven words that Suzanne did.
The month is up. What did I learn? That my priority choices for my words match the amount of time I spend on each pretty well. At the same time, this exercise pointed out some areas that need more work on my part. Specifically:
My original priority list: My 30 day list:
1. Family 1. Family
2. Creativity 2. Creativity
3. Spiritual 3. Spiritual life
4. Fiscal 4. Travel Planning
5. Travel planning/doing 5. Physical
6. Community Service 6. Community Service
7. Physical exercise 7. Fiscal
Family remained at the top of the list. This month's total included a birthday party for my granddaughter, helping my other daughter with some work issues, helping to get the RV ready for a my oldest daughter's family vacation, and weekly lunches with my father.
Creativity was virtually all time spent on the blog, with an hour or so devoted to re-working a travel book. This area needs more diversity. I am looking seriously at a few on-line courses through Coursera.org for the fall. I need to use more of my creative muscle on something other than blogging.
Spiritual time included Bible reading and church services. Small groups and discussion groups are shut down until fall or the total number of hours might have put this category first (where it probably should be!).
Travel Planning was one place higher for two simple reasons: I am working on our trip to Portland next month and an RV trip to California in October. Making reservations and looking for interesting places to visit is fun for me.
Physical Activity moved up two spots, and that is a good thing. After I cancelled my gym membership three months ago I stopped doing much of anything for my physical well being. That was not going to work out well long term. This challenge helped me restart some exercise, specifically walking inside a local mall four days a week for 2 miles each time. That isn't nearly enough but at least it is a start, and about the only option during a Phoenix summer.
Community Service is an area I am going to have to work on. My relationship with my latest mentee through the prison ministry organization has ended. After five years and five mentees I need a change for awhile. So, I am going to have to find another way to give back. I have given some thought to being part of a ministry that presents a Bible study once a week in a retirement home. That might be a good choice.
Fiscal means time spent on managing our money. The fact that this category was three slots lower than I expected it to be is actually a good thing. Our financial health is good, the systems I have in place are working well, and I am not spending much of my time worrying about this part of my satisfying retirement.
By the way, my broker just called to tell me about an investment that has tanked. He suggested I sell to get something for the money. Since we both agreed on the purchase and these things happen I didn't get upset, but chalked it up to the cost of investing. That calm acceptance pleased me.
These seven words worked as well for me as they did for Suzanne. Thanks to her for the idea to check on doing what I say I am doing. This was an excellent exercise I will repeat at least annually.
How about you? What words would you pick?