Many of us believe that the key to good mental wellness is having the psychological fitness skill of being able to prioritize. And I agree. Having the skill set of being able to prioritize creates a sense of balance. Balance create stability. Stability reduces anxiety and depression and increases and uplift our sense of confidence leading to improved overall mental wellness.
One of the reasons people struggle finding stability and security when attempting to prioritize is it they have the wrong orientation. Most people think of prioritization as a totem pole, a ranking, a hierarchy. Prioritization isn’t vertical. It’s horizontal. Being able to prioritize and create balance isn’t about ranking things top to bottom or bottom to top it’s about rotating that access 90 degrees and finding a horizontal balance.
In order to find stability and balance we must first understand that prioritization isn’t about agreeing that my job is more important than my marriage or that my kids are more important than my job or that my self-care is more important than my kids and my marriage but not more important than my job.
Prioritization isn’t about ranking. It’s about finding balance. Balance comes when we are able to recognize that our job, kids, marriage and self-care are all important.
Prioritization is about finding the right portion sizes so that we create balance in our world. Portion sizes may change outside of our control yet we have the control then to adjust the portion sizes to other key areas of our lives in an effort to create ballet. It’s all about creating balance. It’s all about adjusting the portion sizes for the purpose of creating balance.
As an example, if I have a big project due at work then the portion of time I dedicate to work may need to increase. This means then that portions that I devote to my family, my self-care, my friends, my hobbies, my marriage, and so on may need to be decreased in order to create balance. Being an active alchemist by deciding on the portion sizes brings about a sense of control. I’m deciding, then sometimes negotiating with my partner or my children or my co-workers or my boss or whomever, what portion sizes I believe will lead to proper balance.
If due to an illness one of the children in my family develops now demands more of my attention, obviously the family domain portion will increase requiring me to strategically decrease portions in either my work, marriage, self-care, friends, hobbies, or any other domain that sits on my scale. Again, when I make the decisions on the portion sizes because I believe this will bring about the best balance, I’m in control. And again I may need to negotiate the portion sizes that I’m determining with others for the purpose of ensuring relational health and functioning with others in my life so that my attempts to create balance and stability don’t create tensions in other relationships.
So what’s review, prioritization is horizontal not vertical. It’s about determining the portion size of time, energy and focus that I give to any particular domain. I may need to communicate and negotiate with others so that my prioritization, my portion sizing, doesn’t create tension in other relationships that’s making this whole prioritization exercise futile.