Many of us take each day as it comes and then seem surprised to find where life has taken us. Consider this: Do you prioritize the areas of your life and make decisions based on those priorities? Or do you go with the flow — and leave everything to chance?
During your journey through life, you’ll be faced with numerous choices that may be in direct conflict with your priorities. For example, you may be offered a fantastic promotion, requiring excessive travel that separates you from your loved ones. If your priorities aren’t top of mind, you may choose to accept it — even though family time means everything to you.
The key, therefore, is to know what matters most to you and be unwilling to compromise those priorities at almost any price. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” The fact is, change your priorities: change your life.
Are Your Priorities in Order?
You may be thinking, while this seems logical, why don’t people take the time to identify their top priorities and make decisions based on them? The answer is clear. First, some people don’t know where to begin — so they don’t start. Other folks don’t want to make a mistake — so they don’t try. Last, some people are so afraid of making a decision that lasts forever, they take the path of least resistance — and do nothing. In all these cases, they get swept away in the currents of life.
Priorities serve as a guiding star to keep you on course. Every action that you take and every decision that you make will put you one step closer or one step farther away from your goals. Here are 11 guidelines to keep in mind:
- Make the time to set your priorities — it won’t happen by itself.
- Keep the process simple. Select priorities based on sound reason rather than a complicated formula.
- Think beyond today. Ensure that your priorities withstand the test of time. Although priorities should be written in ink rather than erasable pencil, remember that they can be changed at any time.
- Make the hard choices. Determine what matters most to you. If everything’s a priority, then nothing’s a priority.
- Invest your resources wisely. Resources are finite. When you overcommit your time or spread your resources too thin, you fail to dedicate the attention that your priorities deserve.
- Maintain your focus. Accept the fact that you can’t do everything well. Trying to be all things to all people leads to mediocrity.
- Get ready to sacrifice. Choices have consequences. Saying “no” to one thing allows you to say “yes” to another.
- Maintain balance. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance. While this may sound simple, it’s not easy.
- Make joint decisions. Discuss your goals with your loved ones. If priorities are aligned, you won’t work at cross-purposes.
- Learn to say “no.” Remember that subtracting from your list of priorities is as important as adding to it.
- Get a reality check. Give yourself a periodic check-up to ensure that you’re on course.
Take the Right Course of Action
It’s so easy to lose sight of our priorities and to veer off course in life. We let trivia overwhelm us, permit distractions to sidetrack us, and accept other people’s priorities as our own. In addition, we run on automatic pilot without really thinking about where life is taking us. Before you know it, a day turns into a week; a week turns into a month; and a year turns into a lifetime. Before we can say “do-over,” we open our eyes and wish we could live some of it over again. But unfortunately, there are no dress rehearsals in life. If you want to wind up at the right destination, you must know where you’re heading from the start. Make it a priority!
What Are Your Priorities?
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