As a child, my father often told me ‘people are important too.’
To be fair, he still reminds me from time to time.
I know people are important, don’t get me wrong. But people can’t be categorized on a list and checked off when done while I move on to the next thing. Hence, sometimes, I tend to…umm *coughs* forget about them.
When there’s a sibling knocking on your door every twenty minutes, wanting tape or a mint or simply coming in to jump on your chair just because they can and demand you entertain them, it’s very easy to keep saying you’re working and they need to wait. Then it’s bedtime. There’s finally quiet.
The next day it repeats.
A few weeks later, you wake up and realize you’ve spent hardly any quality time with them.
For some people, taking time for others is a given. It’s what you live for. It’s getting projects done that you struggle with. For others like me, projects are easy. They’re fun. Deadlines and checking things off a list is amazing. It making people a priority that’s difficult.
I keep learning; keep growing. A number of realizations have helped me in this area of my life over the years, but one of the most recent ones was a simple phrase in a book called Start With Your People by Brian J. Dixon.
It was a simple book, though very powerful for its simplicity. I recommend it.
The phrase that struck me came when the author was talking about personal life and spending time with family. He talked about how, a handful of years after focusing on spending time with his family, his father died. There was sorrow, of course. But there wasn’t regret.
There wasn’t an emptiness of always pushing time with a person to the end of a list, then moving it to the next day because so much else needed to get done—and suddenly them being gone.
The author had lived his life in such a way in regards to his family that he was left without regrets as to how he spent his time.
There are many applications to this phrase in all areas of life, but for this article, I’m sticking to people. Live your life so you will have no regrets in what you’ve spent your time and energy in.
This doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes. That we never mess up and ignore someone on a hectic day when we should take five minutes to look them in the eyes and listen to their excited ramblings.
What it does mean is that we take time each day and week to focus on our priorities. Money can be lost or stolen. Jobs can vanish. Writing files can get corrupted. Even if we manage to keep everything, we’ll lose it all when we die.
People are different. The people we invest in now will live into eternity. (When it comes to eternity and no regrets, there is a greater relationship than people, of course. Relationship and growth in God is something that will never fail even though people can. That is the topic for another article, however.)
When it comes to people in your life, strive to live for no regrets. This doesn’t mean work never gets done. Our work is focused on people too, be they readers or supporting a family or teaching children. It’s not less important just because people are more.
What this does mean is that you pay attention to priorities. There may be times where you’ve committed to a deadline and need to work late and get a thing done. Other times, it doesn’t matter in the long run when that chapter gets finished. Building a relationship now with that child or sibling is a one-time opportunity.
You’ll have time to write later.
When it’s hard to decide what’s most important, look ten or twenty years down the road. Ask yourself what will be important then and which of the things facing you now actually matters and will make a difference.
Then strive to live a life with no regrets.