We Make Time for What’s Important.

I can still hear my mother’s voice, her lovely Scottish accent: Jane, you say you’ll get around to it, but remember, we make time for what’s important. 

I didn’t realize until decades later that I misunderstood the meaning of this pithy saying.

As with most young children, I was never eager to do my homework. I grew up under the gorgeous African sun before television hit South Africa in 1976. There was always something else to do—and I found countless other things that urgently needed my attention. 

A quick dip in the pool (to check for stranded frogs, of course), a walk for the dogs (look how fat they were getting), or a visit to my best friend’s house (she was desperately waiting for me to return the hair scrunchie.) I could go on.

I gave my mother many opportunities to repeat the saying: you make time for what’s important.

However, on all the occasions I heard it, I wanted to respond that homework was—quite obviously—not important to me; hence I had an iron-clad reason not to make time for it.

In my young mind, I thought she was saying that she knew it was important to do the homework and, therefore, I should get on with it. Wrong, indeed.

Now, decades later, I know my mother was saying that, despite my assurances that I truly planned to get around to it, my actions said otherwise. 

You make time for what (you) think is important. 

Whether a person or an activity, we build our habits and routines around what we regard as important.

You call your sister every Sunday like clockwork? You are saying your sister is important to you, so she is part of your Sunday routine. 

You worked to create a daily workout habit? You are saying your health is important to you.

You take your car for a weekly wash? It is important to you that you drive a clean vehicle. 

Each of these decisions is personal and not specifically good or bad, but your choice was made based on what you think is important in your personal life, what really matters to you.

If you take a moment and think about the things you choose to do regularly or habitually, you have an indication of what you believe is important. 

Sometimes the action itself is not important, but the result of that action is. Consider your job. You probably don’t choose to do it because you believe inherently that it is important (great, if you do!), but the paycheck that follows is very important to you. Hence you make time for your work. 

Relationships are a stark reflection of this. If a friend, boss, or a partner can never find time for your relationship, then they don’t consider it a priority in their life. Naturally, our lives don’t always move forward at a steady pace, and this is apparent in relationships. 

Your sister doesn’t suddenly consider you unimportant when she has a new baby at home; she is simply allocating her time accordingly. 

But look for patterns. If your boss can never seem to have a minute to address your concerns, take this as a strong indication that you aren’t that important in his work life.

A friend who is always too busy to meet with you? She is giving her attention to something she does deem important. She may be the same person who can easily find two to three hours a night to watch TV.

We all choose how we spend our time and with whom we spend our time based on what matters to us.

As my mother always said: You make time for what’s important. What would have helped me was the addition of two words: 

You make time for what’s important—to you!

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2 comments on “We Make Time for What’s Important.
  1. Martha Megill says:

    Excellent point, Jane! And it’s good to pause and reflect on what’s important because I, for one, sometimes…often…get caught up in doing things that are not truly added value but rather yield a short-term reward not a longer-term gain.

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