One of my favorite interview questions is “Tell me about yourself.” Some people jump right to their amazing career accomplishments, while others tell me about their passions, their purpose, or their family. The truth is, I’m not looking for a specific answer; I’m interested in knowing their priorities. What defines you as a person?
Some people think they’ll wake up one morning and their path in life will be as clear as day. Other folks wait for the perfect time to determine what matters most, while others don’t want to make a misstep. The problem is, if you don’t identify what matters most to you, you’ll never know if you’re heading in the right direction or are off course.
If you don’t define your priorities, you won’t be conscious of them.
If you don’t commit to your priorities, you won’t achieve them.
What Defines You as a Person?
In many ways, life is like driving. Would you get into your car without a destination in mind? Probably not. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Consider these 15 questions:
1. Are you striving for success or happiness?
2. What are you willing to compromise to get what you want?
3. What could you eliminate to gain more time each day?
4. Is your goal self-satisfaction or acceptance from others?
5. What percentage of your time is spent doing things that you enjoy most?
6. Do you save money to consume or to buy peace of mind?
7. Do you do most things because you want to or because you have to?
8. What do you consider a higher priority — having more or being more?
9. Are you willing to make sacrifices, today, to secure a better future?
10. Do you let work demands interfere with your personal life?
11. How much influence do others have on your priorities?
12. Are you willing to forgo leisure time for money?
13. How much do you say, “I should have,” when you truly could have?
14. Do you value possessions more than relationships?
15. Do you pursue your goals or “go with the flow”?
Stay on Course
Determine what’s important to you or you’ll react to situations rather than make conscious decisions based on sound reasoning. Here are six guidelines to consider:
Be your own person. Make your priorities a priority. If you focus too much on making others happy, you may end up sacrificing your own happiness.
Make the tough choices. If everything’s a priority, then nothing is a priority.
Keep it simple. It’s so easy to be blinded by ambition, power, and success. Enjoy the simple pleasures in your life.
Put your money where your mouth is. Learn how to say, “no.” Don’t dilute your resources by investing your efforts in low-priority areas.
Keep your promises. It’s easy to compromise your priorities, and say, “It’s just one time.” Keep your promises to others — and when you make a promise to yourself, keep that, too.
Let your actions speak loud and clear. Make sure your actions are consistent with your priorities.
Make a Life While You Make a Living
Too often, we get so caught up in the day-to-day minutiae that we lose sight of the big picture. And when we finally take time to catch our breath, we look back in retrospect, and want a do-over for the bad choices that we’ve made. Unfortunately, there are no dress rehearsals in life.
One day you may reminisce about your life and ask yourself: “How did I do?” Here are clues to the answer: Did you follow your passion or try to please others? Did you focus on the things that matter most or just tackle your to-do list in random order? Were you grateful for what you had or was the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? Did you enrich your life or make a difference in the lives of others? If someone asks you to “tell me about yourself,” what would you say? While career accomplishments are definitely something, they’re certainly not everything. Do you let your job define you?
Do You Let Your Job Define You?
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