What are your priorities, really?
It’s an honest question, to which we often provide less-than-honest answers. If we were 100% truthful about our actual priorities (the things we actively pursue and attend to), we might not actually like ourselves so much, and fear others might not like us at all. The rub is, of course, the “others” already know your priorities based on your actions, so the only person you’re lying to is yourself.
There are many quotes in the world about being a priority, making something a priority, etc. Here are just a few I dug up:
“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.” – Mark Twain
Or Maya Angelou’s less passive version: “Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
Then there’s this, more pointed version by Laura Vanderkam: “Instead of saying ‘I don’t have time,’ try saying ‘It’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.”
My favorite, though, is really simple in its delivery, and profound in its meaning:
“Action expresses priorities.” – Gandhi
Ah, leave it to Gandhi to hit home with the truth, in a profoundly neutral way.
What we do is a direct expression of what we prioritize.
So often I’ve heard people say “I can’t do… x, y, or z,” when what they really mean is they don’t want to. (I know, I’ve done it.) “Can’t” feels somehow more palatable, and hopefully less offensive.
The truth is, though, “I can’t” is what we say to make ourselves feel better, and often only we believe it. The people we are saying that to know we’re lying, but they let us do it because they understand. They do it too. Everyone does it. It’s almost a societal ‘norm’ to be deflective in this way. And that’s okay. (Sort of.)
What’s really not okay is when we start to believe the lie ourselves (ie: “I’m too busy” or “I’m unable to”), because then we are living out of integrity and authenticity – living out of alignment with our core values … and that is a really slippery slope.
So, like Laura suggested above, try saying “I’m sorry, but t’s not a priority for me,” or “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” See how it feels to be honest with yourself and someone else, instead of lying about what you’re able (or unable) to do. You might just be surprised at the outcome.
Post-Note: I did this myself recently, when I received yet another (mis-aligned) solicitation for marketing partnership, and instead of ignoring it, or lying and deflecting with “I can’t right now,” I simply replied: “Thank you, I’m not interested. This isn’t a good fit for me.” The response I received in return was kind and genuine: “Thank you for taking the time to let us know. Best wishes.” I get that not everyone will be like that, but it’s nice to know that some people are. And I’d like to think that the more we respond to life with truth and authenticity, the more we invite others to do the same. xo