This Is All That Matters

Toni Morrison was in a tough spot. She had two young boys. She had a day job. She had just recently divorced. Like the rest of us, she had bills to pay, taxes, a commute, holidays to decorate for, friendships to maintain, and students to teach.

How did she manage it all? Make sense of it all? Well, it began with a simple bit of prioritization. “I wrote a list of the things I had to do,” she once explained. “I found sixty three. Then I wrote another list of the things I wanted to do. I found two–write and mother my children.”

What a wonderful bit of clarity this must have provided. Remember Austin Kleon’s rule? “Work, family, scene–pick two.” As parents, we must compare side by side all the things we ‘should’ do and all the things that actually matter to us. Our kids, of course, must be at the top of this list. After them, there is room for just a few other things.

Everything else? It’s got to go. We need to radically winnow down and focus in. We need to deliberately let the rest fall away. Because all of those things that we allow to stick around, even if just in the background or further down the list, will inevitably steal from those few things we care about most.

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