Setting Your life Priorities Right
“It’s not enough to be busy; so are ants. The question is: what are we busy about” – Henry David Thoreau
That’s a great quote and a good question to ask yourself. What are you busy doing? A further question you could ask yourself is whether you are busy doing something you need to do or whether you could prioritise something more important instead.
By important, I don’t mean another work task chore. I mean something that is going to benefit you, your life and well being. I’ll give you an example. Some time ago I was buried in work. I prioritised work above all else. That meant I neglected other parts of my life. Friendships suffered, my relationship suffered, and I felt completely burned out. My life had become all about working and my priorities in life had become secondary, and actually were rarely considered. Something had to give. It got to a point where I felt I had lost who I was. I needed to find myself again, stop what I was doing and set my life priorities right.
Perhaps this is something you identify with. It’s all too easy to get caught up in doing the things we think we’re supposed to do and therefore neglect the things we actually need in our lives. Maybe there’s an area of your life that you would like to prioritise but for some reason that hasn’t worked out. Possibly your life priorities are not quite right at the moment but you would like to rectify that.
There are lots of things that demand out time. There’s the aforementioned work commitments, relationships, children and family life to consider. Then there’s other distractions that take up our time such as replying to emails, looking at your phone every time Facebook or Twitter sends a notification. All of these things take up valuable amounts of time. Yes, some of those things are important. We should not neglect our family life, children, partners or work. However, it is important to set out in your mind what your life priorities are and consider where everything else fits in with that.
It is common to let go of the important stuff or the stuff that really matters in favour of things that we think are urgent. But ask yourself, do you really need to look at emails right now? Do you need to check your social media notifications at this moment in time? Does the person demanding so much of your time actually need you that much or are they being a drain?
By letting this seemingly urgent stuff take up huge amounts of your time and eliminate all thoughts of your real priorities in life, you’re probably heading towards burnout, feelings of stress and self-neglect, and perhaps even envy if people around you appear to have their life priorities right and you’re feeling way behind where you think you should be.
I’m going to set you a challenge. I want you to stop. Stop right now, thank you very much. It’s time to clear out the faux urgent stuff, the distractions and anything that holds you back. Now is the time to take control of your life, your destiny, and set your life priorities right.
Here’s how you can do that:
- Take a step back, think about your life and each part of it, and then consider what your priorities actually are. Ask yourself what is important? It could be your family, your health or anything else that is genuinely important to you. Think about how you would like to live your life and visualise how that life will be. Write down anything that is important to you. That’s your starting point.
- Next, have a think about your daily routine. So, you get up, maybe have a shower, get dressed and go to work. Do you stop to have breakfast before you leave? Do you walk to work or drive? What do you do when you’re at work? And what’s your evening routine like? Write down all things you do in a typical day. When you have done that, fill in the gaps where you could be doing something beneficial that aligns with what’s important to you. For example, if you skip breakfast but a healthy diet is important to you, add eating a nice, healthy breakfast to your routine. If you notice anything in your routine that doesn’t align with what’s important to you, cross it off. If you already have something in your routine that aligns with what’s important to you, highlight or circle it. The idea is to create a new routine that aligns with what’s important to you and what your priorities are.
- Consider the other things that are important to you but perhaps don’t fall into your daily routine. Maybe your priority is to spend more time with friends. Maintaining friendships is good for our wellbeing, so you could call a friend and ask them to meet for a catch up. Make it a regular thing; a part of your routine. If you want to spend more time with your partner, do the same thing. Talk to them and schedule some time to do that. Mark it in your diary. If it’s written down, it’s a more firm commitment.
- Recognise any blips you have, acknowledge what went wrong and affirm strongly that you will continue to prioritise the things that matter. You’re only human. We all have ups and downs. However, being consciously aware of the blips helps you to learn from them.
- Finally, don’t feel bad about doing what’s right for you. Yes, you may spend less time on work, on social media, or with certain people. However, you are contributing to your wellbeing. That’s what matters more than anything else. So, don’t be afraid to get your life priorities right. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.