Keeping up appearances or priorities?


My grandparents have taught me a lot about simplicity. Not because they grew up in the depression era – Grandpa’s family had to move from Pennsylvania to Detroit to see if they could get work with cars. They didn’t have lots of money to start with.

But, that’s not why they have taught me about simplicity. They lived in the same house for about 50 years. They rarely updated the look of the house. Not a lot of knickknacks and re-painting. They drove the same type of car all the time because they got a deal from a family friend. They ate out when they had a coupon. Neither spent much money on clothes. They never worried about, "keeping up appearances."

They have specific priorities. They wanted to travel and they have – China, Australia, Alaska, Europe and all over the world. Often they combined their trips with a learning program through Elderhostel because of their love of learning. And many trip in the U.S. were done in their camper.

People are a priority. It seemed someone extra was always invited to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. From exchange students to missionaries to far off friends. It took them weeks to drive from Florida to Michigan after the winter season because of all the stops they made along the way to see various friends. Even in their 90’s people drop by their place and Grandma always feeds them.

It used to be with things from their garden. This is their first year without a garden. It was Grandpa’s passion. He made a greenhouse and had lights in the basement to grow the tomato plants from heirloom seeds. The tall fenced in garden took up almost half of their tiny yard.

They simplified what they spent their money and time on, so they would have money and time for what was most important to them. I love that they have been so clear on their priorities.

What are your priorities? What are you doing just to keep up appearances?


  • Lynette says:

    My new work is really hard and detailed. I am trying to keep up appearances with management, yet drowning. I think they expect me to fail.
    Commissioned sales. What should be a higher priority?

  • Beth Dargis says:

    Hi Lynette, it’s hard stuff. I’m pretty sure they don’t want you to fail as that wouldn’t look great on them. Your boss(es) should be telling you the highest priority. Sometimes you have to say I can do this or this, but not both today. Which do you need first? If you have wishy-washy bosses, you need to manage up but asking for the clear expectations, project deadlines, quota numbers. How can you be clearer with management? And how can you ask for more clarity from management?

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