When we talk about our priorities we talk about one of two things – the things that are important to us, or the things that we make time for. The real magic happens when these two things are aligned. The unfortunate thing is that what we make a priority on a day to day basis often compromises our core priorities.
How often have you spent too much time checking your emails or facebook before doing the more important jobs? Have you ever said no to catching up with a friend or family member because you feel you really have to clean the house or do the banking?
Most importantly, have you ever arrived at the end of the day (week, month, year…) and felt like you were so busy yet simultaneously didn’t get anything important done?
Are your priorities working for you?
I believe there are two types of priorities:
- Priorities – the things that you take action on a regular basis
- Core Priorities – the things that are most important to you
Whether you like it or not, you prioritise every single day. The question is, are you prioritising the most important things? If you find yourself working hard, but never making progress in the direction that you want to go, then try asking yourself “what am I making a priority in my life?”
“When you know what is important, it’s a lot easier to ignore what’s not.”
~ Marie Forleo
Clarify your core priorities
To create some clarity around your core priorities, try the following exercise.
If you are a visual or kinesthetic person, you might like to print off the words above and cut them out to allow you to move them around to gain a clearer picture.
1. Reflect on your current situation – in what areas are you satisfied? Dissatisfied? What brings your joy? Gives you purpose? Motivates and drives you? What gets you excited?
2. Consider where you want to be in 12 months, 5 years, 10 years. What will need to be a priority to make this happen?
3. Looking at the words in the image above, rank them in order of priority. Put the highest priority at the top, and the lowest priority at the bottom. You may change the wording and/or add your own words. Trust your gut. If you find it hard to start at the top, try starting at the bottom.
4. Keep moving them until you feel satisfied. The only rule is that you may not have any equal rankings. As much as you may like to have it all, life is full of compromise, choosing one important thing over another. You are limited by 24 hours each day, 7 days in your week. By making the decision now in your core priorities, you will provide valuable guidance in the difficult decisions you will face ahead.
5. For the top 5-10 on your list, write a simple clear description of what that means to you. Create as much definition as you can.
What happens next?
Try asking yourself: What is one thing that I can do, in practical terms, to make each of my core priorities a focus?
We are complex and dynamic creatures. This means that the order of your list will most likely change over time. Consider repeating this exercise any time you feel a shift or a sense of dissatisfaction. Use your list as a snapshot of what you want in life right now, and let is serve as a compass in navigating the many decisions in your life.
Mostly, be kind to yourself. There will be times when you step out of alignment. That is ok. Acknowledge it, accept it, and gently (but firmly) remind yourself of your priorities and get back on track.
How did the priorities exercise work for you? What came up? Share with us in the comments below…