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Balancing Priorities

This one isn't a technical post, but it's entirely appropriate to those of us in the IT field. Today was a stark reminder about priorities and what they should be. Those who follow me on Twitter probably saw that I tweeted about a tragedy that affected one of the families in my church. In a nutshell, the unexpected did happen and someone did pass on fairly young. There's a lot of folks taking it pretty hard, my family included. One of the things I tweeted was the following:

A reminder that life can end unexpectedly. Live life to the fullest today and prepare fully for eternity now. There may not be a tomorrow.

If you aren't a person of faith, then the preparation for eternity part is taken care of, so far as you're concerned, but it is still important to live life to the fullest. That doesn't mean be foolish and careless and reckless. But it does mean looking at priorities and thinking about what's truly important. If something is important to you, it should get the proper amount of time, attention, and care based on its priority. For me, my priorities basically follow the pattern:

  1. My faith / ministry.
  2. My family.
  3. My friends.
  4. My job / professional reputation.
  5. My hobbies and recreational activities.

Sometimes these things go together. For instance, I love to play boardgames. So do my boys. And that's something we do together. But if I have to give time and effort, I will do so based on the previous list. Now there are always times where times will be slightly out of balance. For instance, if I have to work extra hours to complete a project, then it gets done. But over the last few years I've experienced that when you rob one priority to give time to a lesser priority, no one is happy and nothing gets done as well as it should.

As an IT professional the job / professional reputation is easiest to spend the most time on. If you like your craft (and I do), working with technology can be fascinatng and it can be easy to immerse, to the detriment of the other priorities. I've done it and regretted it after the fact. In the last two or three years I've worked very hard to correct that. I know others in the same boat who have done likewise. And the more we get our time and effort and care to match our priorities, the happier we are.

With that, I'll get off my soapbox. But if you haven't thought about what's really important to you, now might be the time to do so along with some self-evaluation to how your time and efforts match up with those priorities. I have found that regularly reassessing my time and effort has helped a lot in making sure I am giving the right emphasis where it needs to be. And I'm very glad to have started that practice in my own life.


K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


Posted by nwlibrarian on 3 June 2009

First, my heartfelt condolences to everyone grieving at this time. A loss of someone is never easy, but I do believe that together we are greater then the sum of our parts when we draw strength from each other during such difficult points in our lives.

Second, yes, absolutely yes! I totally agree with you about what takes priority in our lives. My line has always been live for today, prepare for tomorrow, but not at the expense of this moment because it will never come again. Case in point: someone I know had a rough plan. Work for another five to six years. Retire, and live happily ever after. In February 2008 her husband was complaining about not feeling well, and over the next several months none of the doctors could find anything. Finally, in May 2008, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was a shock to everyone—prior to this he was completely healthy. He passed away in March 2009. Less then a year from the diagnosis. That wasn’t part of the plan. Observing this family over the last year has made me re-think my life, my priorities as well. You see, my own fiancée has cancer.

My Father often taught me never confuse inconveniences with problems. Another individual I know never has anything positive to say. When you speak to this person about a project they tell you everything that will go wrong first, and why we probably shouldn’t do it. I know there will be pit falls, but let’s think of the benefits too! This person complains about everything from work, traffic, weather, and loves to tell you about his problems. He doesn’t realize he doesn’t have problems. He has inconveniences.

Prioritize. Remember the things that truly matter and make time for them. If you’re always saying something like, “Someday we’ll take a family vacation” you should remember this: Life is too short for ‘someday.’

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 3 June 2009

Brian, well said.  I again offer my condolences to those affected by this tragedy.  For nwlibrarian, my best to you and your fiancee as you endure the battle with cancer.

For me, it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day.  With approaching deadlines, increasing demands on my time, household responsibilities, and the need for plain-old "me-time", it can be tough to keep the big picture in focus.  We must plan as if we're going to be around a while to ensure that our families are taken care of, but we must also consider, what if I was gone tomorrow?  Are things left unsaid?  Will I leave behind a legacy of "somedays" or will I have actually made a difference?  It's unfortunate that it often takes a tragedy such as this to remind us of what's really important.

Posted by Steve Jones on 3 June 2009

Thoughts and prayers, and you've said it about as well as I could have. Smell the roses, enjoy today, plan for tomorrow.

Hopefully things will get better for you.

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