Yesterday, I drove past a house with Christmas lights already up in the yard.
It’s the first week of November.
Today, it occurred to me: we can judge all we want, but that homeowner has priorities.
Getting those lights up was important enough for him/her to incur the head-shaking of passing drivers and the silent judgy wrath of neighbors.
That’s what we do when we make something a priority. We look beyond what others might think. We make time even when we don’t think it’s the “right” time, or don’t think we have it to spare. And we do it.
Which means you don’t have to wait till New Year’s, a milestone birthday, or the next four-day weekend (which turns into a three-day weekend because hello, you’re busy celebrating the first day) to start on that thing you say is a priority.
Most projects/goals/new habits don’t need a fancy ball drop, a candle blowout or a TGI-Wednesday dramatic desk toss to kick them off, or long stretches of white space on your calendar.
It’s nice when it happens, but that’s not real life.
If you’re waiting for a special occasion, that’s not how you treat priorities. That’s how you treat parties.
Priorities are addressed on a regular basis. They earned that title because they’re important and because they need to get done.
Research says we enjoy life more if we embrace our time with family, friends, meaningful relationships, learning new things, travel and having adventures. Things we say we’re too busy for.
And yet, when it comes to trivial stuff, we manage to make it happen. But the important stuff—our dreams, our ambitions—gets delegated to a mystical time in the future.
In this age of distractions plentiful, it costs us more than we realize.
Which is why I love working in small steps. I can do small steps. You can do small steps.
Like 20-minute small steps.
If you pick a better way to spend 20 minutes in your day—when you get home from work, after the kids are in bed, or first thing when you wake up—doing something that’s useful, fun, truly relaxing or productive, you start changing your life.
In those 20 minutes (or anytime you have an open pocket of time), you can read a chapter, write an article, hit the gym, learn a language with Duolingo, practice piano, declutter a junk drawer, meditate or do yoga, prep/prepare a nutritious meal, paint or do pushups.
If you’re so tired that you don’t have the energy to do any of those things, sleep. Sleep trumps Netflix or Facebook for health benefits. As you feel your energy level climb up, start grabbing 20 minutes.
This is the beauty of the 20-Minute rule. It’s a small step but small steps add up to big gains. And by the way, you can make it 25, 31 or 8 minutes, whatever works for you.
With just 20 minutes down, working on priorities goes up. Small steps is how chapters get written, pounds get lost, and “I wish” turns into “I did.”
Now you’ve got even more to celebrate.