Just a couple of weeks ago, I gave a “sermon” on the evening of Yom Kippur about aligning our actions with our words and values.
I focused on a time-management tool with which many of us are familiar; take a piece of paper and divide it into 2 rows and 2 columns. At the top of one column put “Important” and at the top of the other put “Not Important.” In front of one row put “Urgent” and in front of the other put “Not Urgent.” The exercise is to review an entire week and categorize each activity on the grid: laundry, grocery shopping, watching Netflix, exercising, working, studying, etc., and attach a time component to it, ie., how many hours were spent doing each activity. Finally, do the math. How much time was spent on activities that are not important? How much on stuff that is not urgent? Ideally, anything that is not urgent and not important should grab the least amount of our attention, time, and energy; conversely, we should focus on those things which are important and urgent. How well does this line up in reality?
This is not just a question of time. It is also a question of our finances. How much money do we spend on things that are not important or do not line up with our values? A recent FaceBook post by Amanda Malcolm-Brown addressed this very issue. She relates it to our health and fitness. How many of us complain about the high cost of gym membership or personal training, but are willing to drop a lot of money to go to a pro football game? Why will we spend a fortune at a fancy restaurant, but balk at spending a little extra at the supermarket for foods that are healthier for us? Malcolm-Brown notes that what really counts are our actions–not our thoughts or intentions. This is, of course, a statement that aligns with Jewish values and is at the core of the High Holidays and the Kol Nidre (Yom Kippur eve) service.
Here we are in the last quarter of 2021 (or the beginning of the Hebrew year 5782); what can we do now to ensure that our actions (and money) help us to reach our goals? Perhaps a good start is to take a piece of paper, divide it into four quadrants….