Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit of a struggle figuring out my priorities. I want to do everything …. but I only have so much time and energy. And money.

If you’ve been following along, I’ve been getting more and more into burlesque in the past year. It’s a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of really awesome people. And the more I do it, the more opportunities there are. Which is great! But accepting or pursuing more opportunities means devoting more time – more rehearsals, more costuming, more time on my own working on my act. And more time spent in one area means less time for other things. Hence why I kept saying that I wanted to get back into running but only running a few times per month.

I started to feel like I wasn’t sure what my priorities even were anymore. I was just saying “yes” to whatever came my way. And I was spreading myself thin and felt like I was unable to excel in any one area.

I started reading articles (OK, maybe one article) about how to better determine what my priorities are, to help me better focus my time. I wrote out a list of everything that is in any way important or a priority or gets some portion of my time and energy. I think my list was around 18-20 things. (The goal was to write out 25 things.)

And then I had to pick the 5 most important ones.

It was actually a really helpful exercise. It made me realize that I really was spreading myself too thin. And by focusing my energies on things that aren’t in my top 5, I was distracting myself from what really matters to me. And while I really do enjoy burlesque and dance and performing, the more I do it, the less time I have for other things, like fitness, running, volunteering, focusing on professional development, spending my weekend nights with people other than fellow performers, etc.

They are lots of fun to hang out with backstage though. 

So, what are my top 5 priorities right now? In order of importance:

Relationships (romantic, familial, platonic)

This will always be at the top of my list. It is important to me that the people I love know that I love and value them, and also that we spend time together, developing or fostering relationships.

Eliminating debt 

I’m really ready to not have this hanging over me and having control over my life. I’m trying to figure out if this ranks above career. It would be nice to eliminate this altogether so that I don’t have to figure out where it ranks.

Pursuing a fulfilling career

I really enjoy where my career has gone in the past year. I’ve been thinking a lot about long-term goals, and how to take all of my skills and make the world better in some way. I have ideas. Some of it involves investing my time (and money) in education and professional development. Which further supports “eliminating debt” as a priority.

Being physically strong 

I would love to run another marathon someday. Running long distances in a climate with 4 seasons is really hard when you’re up until 2am because of a performance. I’m also starting to see my focus on strength training showing up on my body in addition to feeling stronger. It’s exciting. I want to keep pushing it.

Being a part of my community

I actually feel like I’m starting to do that through doing burlesque, which is one reason it’s been hard for me to step back from it. But I can still foster community and relationships without getting on stage. And I want my community to be more than just fellow burlesquers (as great as they are). I want to feel like I’m growing roots in my corner of the city, and in that various micro and macro communities that I’m a part of.

 

So, there you go. This exercise has been helpful in helping me determine where I need to focus my time and energy, and what I should take a step back from because it is distracting me. I would love to be able to do everything, but I can’t. No one can. So, to that end, I decided to take a break from taking burlesque classes and committing to additional performances and opportunities. I was starting to feel uninspired, because I was feeling like it was taking time away from others things, so it was becoming a source of stress, not joy. I can still work on my own stuff when inspiration strikes, and support my friends by attending their performances and the shows they produce.

So, to that end, I decided to take a break from taking burlesque classes and committing to additional performances and opportunities. (I have two performances in April that I’ve already committed to, and those acts and costumes are done, so I just have to show up and perform it.) I was starting to feel uninspired, because I felt like it was taking time away from others things, so it was became a source of stress, not joy, and the thought of creating new work felt overwhelming and exhausting and like a chore. I can still work on my own stuff when inspiration strikes, and support my friends by attending their performances and the shows they produce, but for now I’m focusing my time and energy on the other things above.

What have you had to take a step back from in order to focus on other things? 

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