Thursday, August 30, 2007

My, My...How Things Change!

Today, the nominations for the 41st Annual CMA Awards were announced.

In years past, this was a true event for me. It was something I anticipated for weeks. Some years, I held CMA Nominations parties. There were a few years when I was there in the studio, hearing the nominations live. There was one year when I sat at home, on the edge of my seat, unable to go because I was pregnant with my daughter and on bedrest. (That didn't stop me from jumping up and down with excitement, mind you.)

This year? I probably won't even vote.

I'm not sure my husband voted. We talked about it briefly, but to be honest, I don't think he sent in an initial ballot. I do know that I hadn't given the CMA Awards much thought until he reminded me of the fact that they were happening. He told me on Monday morning. Today, I almost forgot, and tuned in just as the nominations were starting in New York.

As I watched, I thought back to how much it used to mean, and how much things had changed. It's not that I don't care -- I certainly do! -- and it's not that the country music industry is any less important to me now. In fact, we are both probably more entrenched in the industry than we have ever been.

So what's my problem?

My priorities have changed. My focus has shifted. As I watched the nominations this year from my quiet office with piles of work awaiting my attention, I remembered the Priority Questions.

Have you ever noticed that once you do something over and over and over, it becomes part of your routine, an automatic thing in your day-to-day life? You start to live by it and then you forget you are doing it. It becomes natural as breathing.

The Priority Questions were shared with me many years ago. They were so simple, and worked so well, that I began to apply them to everything. As I did, my life began to change. I got a handle on situations I thought were out of control. My life slowed down, became easier, less stressful. It wasn't that my life had changed -- the way I handled my life was what had changed.

The Priority Questions:

Will this matter...
In a day?
In a week?
In a month?
In a year?
In five years?

I took any situation that was causing me stress -- everything from paying the mortgage to dealing with discipline for my kids to handling the nosy and annoying teller at the bank. I took a deep breath and asked myself those questions, in the order listed.

The teller at the bank pisses me off? Really? Fine. Will it matter in a day? No?

Just like that, I let it go. I smiled and put up with her bullshit, knowing that when I turned around and walked out, it wouldn't be a problem. I could seethe about it and whine and bitch and yell filthy names at her in the car on my way home, showing my passive-agressiveness to great advantage in my rearview mirror, but it wouldn't make one bit of difference. And it didn't matter anyway.

Bingo -- she was no longer a problem. I was happier and could spend my energy on things that did matter.

Seems simple? It is. That's the point. You have no idea how much energy you throw away on things that don't matter until you actually call yourself on it. Thus, the priority questions. They put into perspective what you never really think about.

Apply it to anything. Those vicious rumors your friend oh-so-casually mentioned she heard at lunch the other day. The fact that your car is on the fritz. The chronic lateness of your business associate for your lunch dates.

Will it matter in a day? Maybe. Will it matter in a week? Probably not.

Once you have a firm handle on how much it really matters, then you can live your life appropriately. For me it was always my children who came at the top of the list...of course. Will meeting that dealine matter in five years? It just might. Will taking ten minutes out of my rush to that deadline to color a page in a book with my son make a difference in five years? Oh, yes. Definitely.

The editor won't remember that I stayed up all night to finish the deadline. In fact, she might never know. But will my son remember the moment I walked away from the computer, focused on him, and colored that picture of Bugs Bunny? He might, and he might not -- but what if he does? Which matters more?

Today I watched the CMA nominations on television. I watched while writing this blog, in fact. There were moments when I was thrilled by hearing certain names. There was a point where I picked up the phone and called a friend to say congratulations.

Then the nominations were over, and I turned back to finish this blog. Soon I'm going to get back to work, juggling finishing a manuscript, a short story and a column between doing dishes, finishing that load of laundry, and making lunch in time for my husband to have something hot to eat when he walks in the door.

It's not that those nominations don't matter anymore. It's just that they fall in a different place in my life now. My priorities have shifted.

Apply the Priority Questions to your own life. Write down the situations and rank them on paper if you have to, so you can see what is going on in your head. Do it over and over, it becomes like clockwork, and you'll be a much happier person. Trust me.

Now that I'm done being philosophical, I have to go. I have to finish writing this story about a woman who chains a man to a wall, pulls out a riding crop and gives him what he doesn't even know he really wants.

-wicked grin-


Tsera said...

Great post.

I've firmly believed for a long time now that our society would be much better if our priorities were in a different order.

Such as cherishing and honoring our elders, instead of tossing them aside. Giving full-ride scholarships to musicians and artists, not just football players.

One of my favorite ideas for professional sports: only the winners get paid. All the money that would have gone to the losers could go to any of hundreds and thousands of charities in the country.

Sorry, I'll get off the soapbox now =)

Alessia Brio said...

Very true!

This is very similar to an approach I've used for years called 10-10-10: What is the impact 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now?

Gwen Masters said...

tsera, your comment on scholarships reminds me of a serious pet peeve I've had for years...that star sports players get paid a salary that eclipses that of the average teacher by millions, sometimes by HUNDREDS of millions. What does it say about our society, that someone can throw a ball around for millions of dollars, but those who are trying to teach the children of tomorrow are the ones who struggle to make ends meet?

I agree, a full overhaul of screwed-up priorities would make this world a much better place.

Gwen Masters said...

Alessia, I like that idea, too. I love approaches to everyday life that bring it down to managable bits. It's so easy to get lost in something that doesn't matter at all, and lose sight of the things that do.

Will Belegon said...

I'm sorry Tsera, I have to greatly disagree. The idea of only paying the winners would be horrible. If you think the culture of sports is messed up now... wow. That would be a mess. And what do you think would be the fate of the poor baseball player that made the error that caused his team to lose the big game? If you want to see a player killed for a mistake, implement this plan. And I'm not exaggerating. The player who scored the own goal for Columbia that fueled the USA's win against them in the 1994 World Cup was murderedwith that as the motive.

Professional sports are what they are because we made them so. Like any other subculture, there is both good and ill within. For every Michael Vick, there are two or three LaDainian Tomlinson's or Doug Fluties.

While it is very true that we should elevate our priorities, sports and their role in our society is a scapegoat. Nothing more.

The athletes are not to blame.