My husband and I recently started using a budgeting system that espouses the philosophy of Priorities. The idea is that you have a set amount of money for a set amount of time (until you get paid again), therefore to prevent going into debt, you must determine your Priorities and divvy up your money accordingly. After your basic needs, should you have money leftover, you then must choose how to allocate that money based on your Priorities. For my family, we’ve decided that our Priorities are dining out, babysitting (date night, woot-woot!), and fun money (to name a few).
After a recent freak accident involving a gigantic tree branch totaling our completely paid for car (no human injuries!), a bout of feeling sorry for myself, and one day of adding up all of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that seem to happen to us, this concept of Priorities popped into my head.
I am, fortunately, very good at talking myself out of (and unfortunately, into), bad moods, and I realized that the concept of Priorities is not only applicable to my budgeting life, but also to my mom life, my family life, and every other aspect of my life.
I’m a comparer by nature. Yes, I do compare grocery prices, but more than that, I’m a grass-is-always-greener type of comparer. I compare myself and my life to friends my age, older family members when they were my age, and to “friends” on social media.
While comparing does help me understand context and life to a certain extent, it also just makes me feel bad. I feel bad that a friend who is my same age can afford a luxury vehicle that we can’t quite afford yet, or that a family member owned a beautiful home when they were my age (we currently rent), or that a virtual friend is taking a luxury vacation that I could only dream of going on for a distant anniversary.
What I realized that mournful day when Priorities popped into my head, is that while I’m very good at comparing others’ lives to my own, I rarely compare my life to others. I don’t often examine my Priorities as an answer to, or a cure for, the bad feelings I get when looking at someone else’s life as compared with my own.
As a result, what I have failed to realize until quite recently, is that there is a reason for the disparities I tend to highlight and bemoan, and I believe that reason has to do with Priorities. My Priorities as an individual, and my family’s Priorities and the decisions my husband and I have made based on those Priorities.
For instance, my husband and I have decided that one of our foundational Priorities is to have a parent at home with our son. To achieve this Priority I stopped working just over a year ago, and as a result, we are a one-income household. This has consequences, of course, we can’t eat out as much as we might like, or take as many vacations as we wish. However, it also has its perks, and for us, those perks justify this action because it helps us live our Priority.
Because we chose to have me stay at home, I have never missed a milestone in all of my son’s 20 months. It will be a few years until we can save enough to purchase the type of house we’d like to own, but the trade-off is my ability to put my son down for his nap in his own bed each and every day, for which I am paid in countless cuddles, giggles, and Eskimo kisses (and recently, unsolicited drooly -baby kisses right on the mouth….le sigh…).
As I’ve had this bit of a revelation, it has occurred to me that if I am willing to allow myself to see the good, even the great, aspects of my life, and more importantly why my life is as it is (our Priorities!), then I will free myself from the murky, unsavory feelings that come from comparison.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stop comparing all together, nor should I, as I believe a bit of comparison is healthy. Comparison helps us understand others, and sometimes gives us the push forward we need. But, by allowing my Priorities to take center stage I am giving myself permission to sit comfortably within my own truth, to take control of my own life, and to be happy that I’ve made the choices I have because they have allowed me, and my family, to live our Priorities.
We all have Priorities in our lives, what are some of yours? How do you stop the comparison bug from biting?