What do you pay attention to?

This is a question I have been asking myself all afternoon.  In reality, it is something that has been on my mind for several weeks, but was brought to conscious, deliberate consideration this afternoon while I was listening to some old episodes of the Dave Ramsey Show.

In the segment that caught my attention, Dave was talking about the question that he gets most from reporters, “What is the dumbest thing people do with their money?”. He said, it isn’t budgeting, credit cards, etc. The biggest problem is that people just don’t pay attention to their money, their finances, and their debt. They don’t track it.

Then he made the statement that struck something in me….the thing that I needed to hear….the thing that I can apply not only to my finances, but to any area of my life. He said, “You are successful with the things you pay attention to.”

It really got me thinking. I have a lot of areas in my life that I really want to make some changes to. I have other areas of my life where I totally kick butt.  I’m good at my job. I’ve consider myself successful at work. I have a good work ethic. I work my butt off. I’m really invested in building my team up and making sure that they have the things that they need in order to succeed at their jobs and to progress and be promoted—being a good mentor—a skill that I really want to develop.  When things have gotten crazy at work or I’ve had struggles, I’ve been able to prioritize it above other things. I work extra hours.  I miss events with my friends and family. It comes first.

As I think about the other areas of my life where I’ve been able to overcome a struggle or develop expertise at something, I’ve been able to prioritize those things. I once worked really hard to get myself out of debt. It was my priority. I quit using credit. I was aware of and tracked every penny that I spent. I didn’t just think about it at the first of the month when the paycheck came in, or at the end of the month when I was worried about not having enough to cover my expenses. I tracked my activity with money daily. When things came up with friends or family that had an expense associated with it, I prioritized my desire and plan to be debt free over most of those activities.

In the past when I have done well with weight loss, fitness and health, I was able to prioritize exercise above many other things. I weighed and tracked everything I ate. I sought out leisure time activities that furthered my goals and desires to achieve a certain goal.  I paid attention to those things that I was doing that would positively or negatively impact my ability to achieve that goal and I prioritized my time, money, and efforts towards my intended outcomes.

Now I’m thinking about other related things, like, why did I decide to prioritize one thing over another? What paradigms or stories have I created about my life, my abilities, and my mission that have led me to prioritize one thing over another? Can I really find a way to prioritize everything that I want in life? How do I learn to set the appropriate boundaries so that I can have a happy life and do good with what and who I am? In most cases in my past, I’ve been able to prioritize long enough to meet an initial goal, but then have not held steady or continued to progress. I meet the goal and then I drop the priorities. What steps do I need to make in order to maintain my results or continue moving forward? I know that everything can’t be a priority. How do I choose? What things am I paying attention to that I shouldn’t? Am I being successful at things I don’t want to be because I pay attention to the wrong things?

There is a lot to consider, but I’m feeling hopeful about getting some traction on the things I want in life.

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