What's important to you?

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- If you've ever gotten so caught up in the routines of daily business you found difficulty carving out time for your family or spiritual life, know you are not alone.

If you've ever been pulled away from a family dinner, missed a birthday or not made it to church as a result of your pursuit of success, it may be time to think about your priorities.

The quest for personal achievement in our daily lives often overshadows things of true importance. Life is busy. We are constantly bombarded by sensory stimuli of all sorts. It's nearly impossible to stay on top of the staggering levels of information flow and technological advancements in today's society.

And, then, there is family, whose health and well being you have a responsibility to maintain. In order to feel personally successful, it's important to provide a good life for your family. Likewise, providing a good life generally requires success at work.

The workplace is highly competitive, and we spend long hours to secure our place "a cut above" the competition. In order to be "on top of our game," we spend hours, outside our long work day, trying to absorb knowledge and hone our skills.

Television, the Internet, cell phones and personal digital assistance devices consume our attention as we strive to absorb the knowledge and information they provide. But, how often do we stop to think about what's really important in life?

For those of you who are lucky enough to have a significant other in your lives, this is a reminder, don't fall into the habit of forgetting what's really important.

Research is clear; the relationships we hold most dear are the ones that usually get our attention least and last. Those relationships are the ones we expect the most of, fail to consider, fail to give the benefit of the doubt and expect to be perfect. We may even give strangers more attention and leeway than we do those most dear.

At times, we're guilty of expecting members of these cherished relationships to sit happily and wait for us, no matter what time we arrive, and event though we never phone to say we'll be late.

Simply put, we fail to do the maintenance work that's an integral part of any relationship, because "We don't have time."

Stop now, and take time to think about how you manage your cherished relationships. This is not to suggest you neglect your job by any means.

Relationship maintenance only takes a small amount of time. Everyone enjoys a genuine compliment, so give one. Occasionally, buy a gift or give a compliment. You will likely be surprised how much even a small gift is appreciated. Better yet, give the gift of your time and your undivided attention; you'll be amazed at the pay off.

Don't let the years sneak up on you; give of yourself to those relationships you cherish now, or they may not be there later.