Torres column: Prioritize your life by dividing it into categories
I’m going to reveal to you a secret that has made a big difference in my life. Since I have applied it, I have been happy, and my life has been running smoothly.
In the past I lived like many people. I thought I was happy. I lied to myself, just like many people do. I became accustomed to an average life. I never asked more of myself, and I never stood up for my real beliefs. I never researched the truth. I let others think for me. I was comfortable because everyone around me lived the same way. No one helped me to understand I was a mediocre person, and I later concluded that their beliefs were limited to themselves; therefore, they could not believe in me as well.
Then I decided to change my life and not look back. I noticed that many people are not happy, but just as it was for me, they think they’re happy. They live under stress, and they never seem to catch up. They are saving money, paying bills, paying their mortgage, hoping that one day they can retire, not enjoying their life fully.
I don’t blame them. I was there one day. However, I’m happy I had a realization when I was 28 instead of 40. Since then I have applied the next secret I’m going to reveal to you. Before I tell you, I don’t want you to think that I’m the only person who practices it. People who are icons in our society have done it and are great examples of its effectiveness. Tony Robbins is one.
I divide my life in categories, and I prioritize them accordingly. Your categories and priorities do not need to be like mine. You find your priorities, and you can segregate your life as you want. However, be realistic and understand that the human being has needs to be met, and if you don’t meet those needs, you will always be stressed.
Make sure you always check on your categories by making sure you are seeing results in each one.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Before my change I did not have a spiritual practice. Sometimes I went to church because I felt forced to. I felt guilty, and I knew I was wrong the way I was living. Therefore, I wanted to compensate by going to church. Instead of focusing on what the priest was saying, I had negative thoughts in my head. When it was time to give my charity, I would carefully get $2 out of my pocket to show others that I was cooperating with 2 bills that actually were very hard to give. I would get out of church as fast as possible and drive away fast, cutting people off and cursing inside my head.
Now I make sure I have a list I follow every day. God is not practiced in church only but in my life everywhere and at any time. I pray every day, and I’m grateful about all I have. I meditate every day, I listen to people’s needs, I help when people need my help, and contribute at least 10 percent of my income to charities that are helping the environment, humans and animals.
My family was very dysfunctional. Having a heavily alcoholic mother that was lost in alcohol and a dad who left my mom when she was pregnant, I had no role model to follow. I was lost for many years until I understood that our family does contribute to our happiness and success.
I’m not married yet, but I make sure I’m there when my brother needs me, and I make sure I make time to spend with my significant other every day. We have a ritual that we follow every Friday, no matter how busy or tired I am. We go out to eat, and Saturday we do something fun. I treat my animals like I’m never going to see them again. I play with them, and I walk them every day.
When you are not improving, you are declining. This is true for mental and physical health. Even when we think that we are maintaining, by walking and eating somewhat healthily, we are declining. This is what aging does. Therefore, health needs a constant awareness. You can’t be negligent about this area. If you don’t take care of your health, you can’t focus, think clearly, stay awake or give your best.
I make sure I exercise every day by lifting weights and running. I used to hike often, but now that my dogs are injured I opt for running at 5 a.m. I choose my foods carefully by eating at home and don’t eat out often. I invest money in my foods by buying the cleanest foods I can find. I read books that are going to help me progress. I control my thoughts every day, and I choose what I think. I control my thoughts instead of my thoughts controlling me.
Nothing is more bizarre than focusing on money just for the money itself, sacrificing my peace, my family and my health. I used to do that, and it did not help me.
Now I improve my value not by the money I make, but by the person who I become to make myself valuable enough to make more. A challenge to improve and learn more every day is on my daily list. I read every day, I watch seminars, I sign up for workshops, and I experiment with new ideas. It’s the same as with health: When we are not improving we are declining. Therefore, it is important to push yourself to continue progressing in your profession.
Money used to be my focus, and it was the reason I worked. It paid for my car and made it faster, got me cool clothes, and allowed me to party all night, drink, eat out and have fun.
Now money is not my focus. It helps me progress; help people, the environment and animals; and even hire people to continue giving the best service in town. I make sure I save at least 10 percent of my income, and I invest the rest in food, learning, my family and my freedom. I do this every time I get paid.
What would happen if I put all my focus on my spiritual health: Would my finances suffer? Or my health? Or my family?
What if I focused only on working? Would my health suffer? Would I lose peace in my spiritual area? What about my health? What is more valuable: making a couple more dollars or keeping my family united or myself healthy?
When you take the time to divide your life into categories, you can take care of them every day, week or month by checking how are you doing in each area instead of thinking that you need to exercise, work, pay attention to your wife, play with your kids, cook tonight, save money for your next house, go to church, help the charity cause this week, take a course, find a workout buddy and the rest.
You can focus on only one of your categories: spiritual, family, health, profession and finances. Just make sure that you go back and check every day, week or month that you are on track in all areas. Otherwise, your life may be stressful.
Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently.” His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.