This week I gave a talk to a group of young professionals. They asked me to speak about, of all things, personal organization and time management as they relate to one's life-mission. I chuckled at the invitation, knowing I, too, could use a lesson or two.
If you don't mind, we'll take a break today from hard news, and talk for a moment of the bigger picture of why news matters — because life matters.
In my little talk, I focused on one golden nugget of simple sense so rare we might confuse it for wisdom: don't let circumstances determine your priorities.
Much easier said than done, I know. Maybe this will help:
1) Know what you care about and why.
Think deeply about what is of greatest value, not to you right now, but to you when you are at your best. A hint: I, at least, am at my best when my passion is for loving and being more than having, for seeking and respecting truth over personal advantage.
2) Don't let yourself forget.
Write down your priorities based on what you value. If need be, carve them on the doorposts of your house, etch them in your cherry wood desks, and digitize them on all five screen savers of your data machines.
3) Be aware of new circumstances.
Data machines are the new circumstance manipulators that have a way of determining our priorities for us. They are the computers, cell phones, Blackberrys, iPods, and televisions that, when uncontrolled, converge spontaneously on our senses and dictate what we do, think, and believe. The sheer volume of information has a way of warping what's true and important. From talking to people older and wiser than myself, the danger today of spending our time reacting to stimuli, instead of forging a life based on priorities, is more powerful now than ever before.
4) Distinguish between the peripheral and the essential.
The greatest danger of information and entertainment overload — for both providers and recipients — is to reach a saturation point without ever maturing our thoughts. Mature thoughts put things into proper perspective; they distinguish between the peripheral and the essential.
Who's to say what's essential?
In the news world, it's the job of the communicator. I'll keep trying to do that for you, in my own little way, on this blog and on the air. I'll be attentive not to waste your time with ideology or sensationalistic entertainment, and if one day I do, and try to pass it off as news or truth-seeking commentary, I hope you let me know.
Beyond the news, in the big picture of life, we best use our time when we recognize what is essential in relation to what is of greatest value.
I hope you didn't mind this little break. I am saving your many worthwhile messages on immigration reform and the situation in Venezuela for another day.
God bless, Father Jonathan
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