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Our resources, as human beings, are finite. There is only so much time, physical energy, focus, and emotional resilience we have to spend every day.

Some days, we pay more attention to replenishing our personal resources than others, but the fact remains that there are limits to what we can reasonably commit to spending our finite resources on. The fact that we can’t “do it all” is not a commentary on how lazy or weak or powerless we are; it’s simply a fact.

Resources are finite, especially our own personal resources.

A consequence of the fact that resources like time, physical energy, focus, and emotional resilience are finite is that we are necessarily faced with choices about how to expend those resources. Because we can’t do it all.

Let me say that again: we can’t do it all.

How about a third time: we— you— can’t do it all.

So how, then, do we make logical, constructive choices about how to invest our finite resources? How do we make sure we’re not wasting the only currency that we, as human beings, have to offer?

I’ll give you a hint: however we make those choices, other people are 1) always going to have an opinion on how we should be spending our resources, and 2) never going to have our priorities on the top of their list of ways they’d prefer we expend our resources. They’re going to recommend, before anything, that we expend our time, physical energy, focus, and emotional resilience chasing down what they want.

I’m not necessarily saying everybody else is selfish, understand. After all, they’re just like us: they want what they want. They have their priorities. But when it comes to their strongly held opinions on what we should do with our resources, they won’t be particularly up front about that; they’ll likely couch what they want in terms of what you want. It’s tried-and-true salesmanship, and it often works.

Understand, we can take counsel from other people when deciding how to spend our resources. We can listen to their sales pitch, as it were. It may very well be the case that our priorities and their priorities may be aligned in some ways or partially overlap.

The key, however, is to avoid going on autopilot, and simply accepting other peoples’ direction simply because it’s easier than clarifying our own priorities and values. The choices we make, in the end, need to be ours, need to be in the service of us chasing our own priorities and needs and values, rather than spoon-fed to us by others who are really just chasing down their vision of the world.

Reinforcing the fact that we, not anybody else, are in charge of how we spend our time, utilize our physical energy, direct our focus, and call upon our emotional resilience, is essential not only to achieving our goals in life, but to building and maintaining strong self-esteem.

You see, our brains notice whether we’re self-directed, or whether we let other people run the show.

Our brains notice whether our resources get expended as a result of our conscious choices, or as a result of us blithely accepting somebody else’s vision.

Our brains notice how easily influenced we are by other peoples’ “sales pitches,” and what we do when someone is trying to pressure us to spend our resources as they see fit.

Our brains notice all of this, and it all becomes part of our self-concept. We develop a reputation with ourselves either as people who clarify, pursue, and defend our priorities and values, or people who surrender our visions and goals in the service of somebody else’s vision.

One of the most essential building blocks of self-esteem is autonomy. The belief that you are an individual, with your own priorities and values, and someone who is willing and able to pursue and protect those priorities and values. This is why it’s so important to be mindful and purposeful about how we expend our personal resources: our brain notices, and builds those observations into our self-concept.

Our self-esteem fluctuates directly based on how autonomous we feel, and by how consciously and self-directedly we behave.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that, no matter how poor we may be financially, no matter how disadvantaged or stressed or traumatized we may be due to things that have happened to us, we still have resources at our disposal. We still have time, physical energy, focus, and emotional resilience. They’re resources that can be depleted and replenished, but we all have them; and as long as we have them, we cannot escape the responsibility that comes with choosing how to use them.

Make choices that build and enhance your self-esteem. Choices that move you closer to your vision of the world. Choices that prioritize what you find important, what you value.

When someone tries to commandeer your resources for their own purposes, remember this blog. Remember these words.

You can do it.

 

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