Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Establishing priorities and making choices

About a week ago, I advised someone to establish priorities and making choices. Easier said than done though. Each day, I am instructing myself for sticking to my priorities because my mind easily drifts away. More and more, I’m following a daily rhythm with segments of blocked time and free/play time. I’ve discovered that writing in the morning suits me best.

In my early days at work, I used to start with big tasks but the constant nagging of various small tasks prevented an efficient and effective dealing of big tasks. I changed my approach and started dealing with small tasks at the start of each office day. I noticed that removing the small tasks first makes it (much) easier dealing with subsequent big tasks. It still seems counterintuitive, however.

There are a lot of distractions in our daily life: did I close the doors and windows when I left, is that alarm from my car, who is that stranger, what is that smell. Regaining focus after our minds start wandering requires a conscious reset of our thoughts. Perhaps that is self-control but I’m not entirely sure (my 2016 blog). Also see my 2017 blog: Focus vs Distraction.

Establishing priorities and creating a conscious reset of thoughts feel like symbiosis: independent but mutually beneficiary. An artificially intelligent robot cannot do without established priorities. Its senses would keep on distracting the robot, despite having been given a purpose. The process of establishing priorities and making choices feels like a human algorithm.

Sometimes, you need distractions whenever you’re stuck in thinking. Hence, distractions and thinking may also have some kind of symbiosis. The challenge is not to wander away from your objective. Nevertheless, distractions and thinking may result in redefined objectives. Sometimes, the problem is not in the answer but in the (original) question itself.

During my 2013 burnout, I was overwhelmed by the volume of my issues. I strongly felt these issues must be interconnected but I didn’t understand how. I failed seeing the forest for the trees. While being distracted by an irritating question from a close friend, I used the Maslow pyramid as an example for explaining my issues to her. Suddenly, I had my epiphany or Eureka moment: the Maslow pyramid was my forest.

My purpose in life is helping other people. Hence, my writing. With the knowledge of hindsight, it has always been like that. The difference now is that I’m no longer doing that at the expense of myself. Helping other people, while being dissatisfied and unhappy, will deplete your resources. Hence, the burnout.

Since a few years, I learned a new priority and choice: You must help yourself before helping others.

Help Yourself (1976) by Joan Armatrading

artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Need someone to help me 

But not you, you’re not ready 

Seems you have trouble helping yourself

What you’re doing is wasting my time 

You would help me more 

Help me more, if you helped yourself

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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