A few months ago, I asked a group of over 100 adults to commit to doing two things. First, they were to answer one question. A few weeks later, I explained, I would ask them to answer a fairly simple “poll”. I asked that they agree to commit only if they were willing to be 100% honest; in return, I promised that their names would never be revealed and that I would delete their response as soon as the data was collected and collated. Over 80 people opted in.
They were asked, “What are your top 3 priorities at this point in your life? In other words, what 3 things are you most focused on?”
As I expected, faith, family, marriage/romantic relationship, financial security, and physical health were the most commonly-provided answers.
Three weeks later, I sent to each participant a list of activities and asked them to share, on average, how many hours a day *of their free time (non-sleep and non-work)* they spent on each one. I also offered the opportunity to write in any activity at/on which they spent more than 30 minutes a day.
The results did not surprise me.
People who claimed that physical health was a top-3 priority spent, on average, less than 18 minutes a day doing any type of exercise. They spent less than 3 minutes a day preparing or procuring “healthy” food.
People who claimed that their marriage/romantic relationship was a top-3 priority expended, on average, less than 30 minutes a day in positive one-on-one conversation and/or activity (taking a walk, playing a game, working on a joint project, etc) with their spouse or significant other.
People — and there were lots of these folks — who claimed that their faith was a top-3 priority expended, on average, less than 18 minutes per day on faith-related activities such as prayer, Bible study, devotion-reading, church attendance, and small group attendance.
So what were people doing with their free time every day? Again, no surprises here; watching tv, chatting with “friends” on social media, texting, wandering around on the internet, household chores, shopping (online and in physical stores) were top choices, as was “I don’t remember; just puttering around, I guess”.
In a nutshell, what these 80+ people claimed were their priorities — the focus of their lives — was NOT what they spent much, if any, time on.
I don’t think those 80+ people are an anomaly; instead, I believe these numbers would be true of the vast majority of adults, myself included much of the time.
That says, to me at least, that one or both of two things are true:
1. We are not intentional in how we utilize what is our most valuable commodity (our time),
2. We are out of touch with ourselves and don’t recognize what are our true priorities
This week on social media, I’ll be turning my attention to “focus”. I hope you’ll check out my facebook page (Patti Miinch) and join in the conversation *and* that you’ll share your thoughts about “focus” via a comment to this post.