Today’s message requires some participation on your part. Are you willing? Then try this. Stop whatever you are doing right now and make a list of your priorities. I don’t mean the list of tasks you want to get done today, I’m talking about the things that are most important to you as a human being on the planet. Who are your very favorite people? Where are the places you love the most? What activities feed your soul and spark joy in your heart? Go on. You’re bothering to read this. Take a moment to pause and write a quick list. People. Places. Activities. Then read through it start to finish.

After a recent conversation with a friend, I made my own list of people, places and activities. When I look at my list, aptly titled PRIORITIES, I feel a sweetness inside. Yes, these are my people. These are my places. This is what I love. It is a compilation of what makes me happiest, and the who, where and how of being well-aligned with who I am at my best and why I am here.

If your list also gave you a little rush of happy, proceed to part two of the assignment. Go through and jot down how often you see or talk to each person, visit/revisit each place, participate in each activity. It doesn’t have to be exact, but be honest as you work your way through, indicating the frequency with which you in some way engage with listed items.

I would like to say that most items on my list were labeled “daily” or “weekly” or at the very least “monthly” but they are not. Looking at this list I am faced with the black and white of just how out of whack my daily priorities are with my real, soul-inspired priorities. Because the work I do is absolutely aligned with my purpose, my default is in that one category, with a lot of neglect in other places. If I want to live in a whole-hearted way, the information in the “how often” column needs to shift from where it is at the moment. Change is needed.

This isn’t a new challenge for me, but as the lesson has come around in such a clear way, it’s obviously time to reprioritize my daily and weekly schedule. Again. As the quote goes “How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” Sitting or standing in front of this screen is not how I want to spend my life. It’s not impossible to adjust how we spend our time, but to do so, it’s necessary to keep the real priorities at the fore. And it’s also about getting creative with the hours and resources we have.

People: Some of the people on my list are far away and we both have busy lives. But even a 10-15 minute call does more to connect us and connect me with the best part of myself than just thinking about them or sending a text message. As for the people right here in the Triangle? Planning and prioritization. No excuses. Just do it. We are here to love and our lives are so much better when we do it on the regular. Connection makes this life worth living and it’s crucial to make it a real priority or days, weeks and months of distance creep into our relationships.

Places: Sometimes it’s just making it happen and going on a trip or planning an adventure — even if far into the future — to keep that flame alive. But there’s more. While I can’t get to South Africa on the regular (and actually may never get there again) I could get together with the friends with whom I made that original trip, watch a movie or documentary about the region or read a book that takes place there. Even just going through the photos I took on my visit open up a place in me that is spacious, happy, full of love. The places that speak to a deep part of us are important. And if you can’t be there in body, find another way to connect.

Activities: This is the simplest and biggest work of reprioritizing the 24 hours we are given each day. If how I am spending those hours is not inclusive of items on the list, there is nobody to blame but me. Do the stuff that makes you happy. Do more of it and more frequently. It seems so simple. I’m ready to try (again).

This life is so short and time seems to be flying by faster than ever. I don’t like the feeling that I am missing out on what I love the most and I want to take full responsibility for creating a life that I love. One that includes work I know is valuable and also leaves plenty of time for the expression of my non-working heart and soul.

If any of this finds a seat in you — if there is an area or areas which need some reprioritizing — I hope you will join me on my quest. We are better for everyone and everything we do is bigger and brighter when we are happy and full. And getting happy and full isn’t anyone’s job but our own.