When I was up at the launch of the Computer Science course on Monday, they asked us to engage with some of the course specification, objectives and learning outcomes. One of the first things to come out of a number of the learning outcomes was the importance of Requirements Gathering and creating a list of what a system is expected to do.

The learning outcome my group was working with was to do with testing and I recall saying that “You can’t test something if you don’t know how it’s supposed to behave in the first place” or words to that effect.

Well, I’m thinking about my life a bit in that context this morning. I glanced at a few more pages of my most recent “be a better person” book and the thing that I found jumping out at me was values. Do I know what my values are? Do I know how I want to be in the world, how I want to behave?

It’s all well and good to identify that I’m not fully content with myself and how I’m living my life, but what does the dream life even look like to me? Where are my priorities? And not the priorities that I feel I should have, not this list that I’d be proud to share on social media and have everyone see what a GoodPerson[tm] I am. But really, what do I care about?

I say that being creative in some way in my life is a priority for me. Okay so, then why amn’t I doing that? It feels like a cop-out to say there isn’t enough space and time, but isn’t that the very essence of priority? That you do it first?

It’s funny, I don’t feel like work is an objective priority of mine and yet I spend so much of my life on it, and when we’re in term time all other priorities seem to take second place. All the same, it is nice to have a pay check and money to spend and all of that, and working is a means to that end, so given that you’re going to have to work, you might as well start by finding a job that you can at the very least tolerate, but hopefully even like a lot or love at times. And that’s what I’ve done. And what I do has its own importance, I mean it’s not life-or-death on a day to day basis, but in the longer run it sometimes might be. We’re educating people, but it’s not just knowledge as a commodity, we’re growing parts of the psyche of adult humans.

I’m not trying to over-blow what I do for  a living, but I guess I feel it’s reasonable enough that it takes up brain-space and a bit of a priority seat at certain times of the year. I guess I wanted to justify it to myself.

But is it too much?

Maybe. It might be. And I’m unlikely to know because I’ve never bothered to think about what actually is a priority for me.

It all falls away when a family member is sick. You know, all that extraneous stuff. Everything becomes unimportant in the face of the potential death – no, not even death, the potential hurt – of one of your immediate clan.

That’s fine, but that’s “drop everything” stuff and it’s not exactly sustainable to live that way.

I don’t have an answer to the question about my values. I feel like it’s like that judge about pornography – I’ll know it when I see it. Or art. You know, subjective. But do I have to glory in my ignorance? Okay, I can see potential harm in writing a “These are my values and priorities” list if it then became a set of rigid instructions for my life. Ha! Maybe that’s how the major world religions started. Very Ten Commandments and all that.

So I could claim that’s why I’m shying away from doing this task, and there is the hint of that going on, but more like …. I’m worried that if I write down that something is a priority for me then I’ll feel really guilty if I don’t spend any time on it. Like, if I’ve managed to do the work and identify my top five important things, then what the hell kind of life am I living if I’m not giving over time to those things?!

The answer, unfortunately: the same kind of life I was living before I admitted those things were important. But a more aware life, and one with the potential to change.

And change comes slow.