Jeff is a 38-year-old father of two; a devoted husband. By day he works mobile, and by night he works hard to be there for his family. He is conflicted. Battling to earn enough to meet his family’s longer term needs he is tempted to work longer hours, but he knows, all too well, his focus needs to be just as much, if not more, with his young family. These diametrically opposed priorities confound him, and he is often pressed between skimping on sleep or exercise in order to meet the challenges; work and family.
Of course, Jeff’s story is a familiar one. Just how do we walk a tightrope of priorities?
For many problems in life there are no easy answers. And we can theorise about Jeff’s best chances of sustaining his life in the midst of his family life and work life. The sad reality is many people like Jeff would sooner run short on sustaining their lives than cut short the quality in their family life or cut short earning potential in their work life.
What are the best priorities? Are they placed first?
Even though each person will decide for themselves what the best priorities are, we can step back and visualise our lives from their centre. Surely all our efforts emanate from a core within ourselves. Such a core is the foundation of the person, as such a core is the foundation of a marriage, as such a core is also central to holding a career together.
But what is the core that needs most its own basic form of attention?
What is it about our lives that needs the most sustenance and care?
If we answer in anything external to our core selves we may be mistaken; we may miss the mark in finding a sustainable position with which to safely walk our tightrope to its end. It is not selfish to look deeply within and to understand, and respond to, the personal needs that need to be met in order to provide for others’ needs.
We cannot care for others if we don’t first care for ourselves. This has to be the first rule in the nurture of many diverse things. It is wisdom that allows the right sort and right level of self-care.
The answer to Jeff’s predicament is no simple one, and only Jeff can eventually work it out, even one day at a time. He has enough resource within himself to satisfy others’ needs of him, but only if he can spare himself enough resource to replenish himself.
Walking the tightrope of priorities can be a despairing burden. If we wish to walk safely, we need a wise level of self-care. We care best for others when we care best for ourselves.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.