While it's easy to be busy and crank out the tasks on your to-do list, it's a bit more difficult to choose to do the
important things -- to live your life by priorities that you set for yourself.
But living a life of smart priorities is one of the best ways to become much more effective, to make the most of your time
and reach your goals with less effort.
Instead of running around like a chicken with no head, you can walk calmly in the right direction, do less but be more powerful
in what you do.
Something you should remember, however: priorities are not what you say they are—they're what you actually do. So take
a moment to reflect on how you spend your time, what your priorities have been lately, until now. And reflect on whether those
are the priorities you want to live. If not, let's look at how to change the situation—as simply as possible.
Three Big Mistakes
Most people make one of three mistakes when it comes to setting priorities:
1. They don't think about it. People often do their work and live their lives without consciously setting priorities.
They're showing their priorities through their actions, but they're not consciously set. As a result, they end up living lives
and doing work they don't really want. They fall into a life they don't want rather than designing the life they want.
2. They make it too complicated. Some people do set priorities, but they do so with complicated systems of numbers
and letters. "A1" is given to top priorities, then "A2" to the next level, down to "B1" and
"C2" and so forth. The truth is, you can only really have a couple of real priorities at a time. If you think you
have many priorities, you aren't being realistic -- you will end up putting a couple of those "priorities" on the
backburner -- which means they weren't priorities in the first place.
3. They don't live their priorities. It's one thing to set priorities, it's another to live them. What you actually
do, how you live your life, reveals your actual priorities. Your priorities are what you live, not what you put on paper.
Too often people say their priorities are one thing, but their lives show those "priorities" are given very little
How to Set and Live Priorities
To live a life of conscious priorities, avoid the above mistakes with three simple solutions:
1. Consciously set priorities. Take time today, or sometime this week, to sit down and figure out what you want
your priorities to be -- at work and in life. What's most important to you? What goals are most important? What do you want
your life to look like? Who is most important? Reflect on these, then write down your top priorities.
2. Keep them simple and focused. When setting your priorities, choose just 2-3 to really focus on. If you have a
longer list, put the others on a "someday" list to focus on later. You can't live more than 2-3 priorities anyway,
and if you keep things simple, it'll allow you to truly focus on these priorities.
3. Live your priorities. Keeping things simple and focused makes it so much easier to actually live your priorities.
Take time each morning to remind yourself of your priorities, and to put them into your schedule. Block off time each day
for your top goals or priorities, so your life will actually reflect the priorities you set.
Leo Babauta is the author of Zen
Power of Less.
Setting priorities in life is essential to achieve happiness. Do you agree? I know all of you agree, and most of you do set priorities in your lives, but how many of you really live them?
Sometimes our life priorities are not correct, so we find it difficult to follow them. Or, we’re not clear about our purpose in life, so we keep changing our priorities of life.
Today I want to talk about life priorities by taking my life as an example because I think I’d be able to better explain through my personal experiences.
I was aware of the importance of setting priorities in life, but honestly with time I forgot them.
I believe priorities in life are more about fulfilling your responsibilities than just doing what you want to do in life.
For me, my family always topped my priority, but ironically until now I tried to keep my work as the top priority. Sometimes I even spent more time blogging, though I enjoyed it too.
However, as a result I started to see that things weren’t working as planned because I couldn’t fulfill all my responsibilities. I guess maybe because I was spending too much time on social media.
Now, can social networking lead to problems? Not really if you’ve your life priorities set right. But then even if you set priorities, you just can’t do everything and that too up to perfection.
My work got increasingly more demanding and I compensated for it by using my time set aside for family bonding, activities, and my personal time.
Obviously, this led to life becoming more stressful, and resulted in having no time for anything else.
Have you also experienced similar phase in your life? A time when your life priorities go haywire and you start going in all directions, or move away from your top priority.
What do you do then?
You sit and analyze your life, make an honest assessment of the tasks and responsibilities at hand, set your life priorities again and make a pledge to live by them.
If you get your priorities straight, it will make your life easy and simple.
You need to keep making an assessment of your life priorities at regular intervals, because you should consciously change them to change your life for the better.
“Success is only another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be.” ~ Harry Lloyd
I think I’ve been quite like a juggler as I’m a professional writer, blogger, social networker, wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, and myself. You see I’ve got eight task balls to juggle with or roles to play.
Not only that, I’m standing with both my feet on two different cars. One represents my home that moves slow and the other stands for my work or office, which moves fast.
But it’s no big deal as I’m not the only one who shoulders such herculean responsibilities and carries out such balancing acts in life.
This is what almost every working mother does. I salute all working moms who set their life priorities right and keep up this delicate balance in life.
However, those who don’t set their priority right undergo a lot of hardships and suffer.
A working mom can’t afford to drop any of those tasks or the roles she plays, can she? And even if one of the roles she plays contradicts with the other, there’s a problem.
Especially if those two roles are related to home and work respectively, then it affects the delicate balance in the family. In such cases – some task or the other will always suffer and take a back seat.
Sometimes you need to make compromises in life, and that requires sacrifices. Then you come to know that it’s time to consciously set your priorities, again.
So, to balance out things I took a decision to lessen one of my roles significantly.
My deepest feelings and intuition to take this decision were strengthened by reading a story about setting priorities.
“It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy – very busy – without being very effective.” ~ Stephen Covey
About Setting Priorities
I had once read a commonly circulated story, which has various versions and I’m sure most of you might’ve read them too.
So, I’d just write its essence in a few words in my way.
If you have about a dozen small rock pieces, two handfuls of pebbles, and a small bucket filled with sand, and you’ve to fill them all in a wide-mouthed mason jar – how will you do that?
What would you put in first? What do you think should be the order of things to fill in the jar?
Well, it’s quite simple. The big things come first; so the sequence would be rock pieces, pebbles, and then sand.
Yes, even if the rock pieces fill up the jar, there remains enough space through the gaps between them to allow the rest of the things to enter and settle in the jar.
But what if you try to reverse the order, will you be able to carry out the task? Well, no.
The beautiful interpretation is that the jar represents your life, the rock pieces are the important things like your family, health, partner, or your children.
These are the things that will keep your life full, even if the rest of the things are lost.
Other things are the pebbles or the things that matter like your house, job, or your car. And the sand represents everything else – the small stuff.
Here is the video of the story I took the idea from – view to understand it better.
Rocks in a Jar ~ The High Calling ~ YouTube Video
“You can get control of your tasks and activities only to the degree that you stop doing some things and start spending more time on the few activities that can really make a difference in your life.” ~ Brian Tracy
Lesson from the Story – How Can You Set Priorities
You cannot ignore the aspect of setting priorities in life. Your preference of choice should be very logical, reasonable, practical, and realistic about what matters most to your life.
Set priorities as per:
- What is important to you
- What affects your life most
- What will make your life easy
- What you cannot live without.
You should know what aspect of life should get the best of your time and attention, and what should be dropped if circumstances ask you to make a choice.
It’s good to analyze life at times and simplify it by redefining and setting priorities. Make them simple, and do not have too many priorities in life so you can focus on them.
“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.” ~ H. L. Hunt
Changing Life Priorities
For me, my family, health, partner, and my children are the rock pieces that fill up the jar of my life. They are my life priorities.
I need my writing jobs, and can afford a bit of blogging. They’re the pebbles and can easily fit in my priorities.
I realize all this fills up my life completely. If I try to stuff in more, then I might displace some of my family time, writing jobs, or will have to cut on my blog posts.
Now I understand why setting priority in life is essential. You want to keep what’s important to you, and not lose any part of it.
I found there was not much space in the jar of my life for some sand – the social networking. Though being small stuff, it took plenty of my time.
So, I made a decision to lessen my time on social networking platforms.
I changed my life priorities. A difficult decision but simple solution to my problems.
I’ve now one less task to juggle or role to play, which doesn’t make my life easy but it does give me time to attend to my top priorities in life.
“You need to make time for your family no matter what happens in your life” ~ Matthew Quick
I know it’s a big decision as it might impact my blog traffic and the number of followers and fans. But I guess I’d have to be content with what I’ve and try to give them the best I can.
So, if you don’t find me much around on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, it’s just that my priorities have changed a little now.
I am lessening on doing things that take more of my time, which can be used for bonding with my loved ones. And I feel if you were in my place, you might’ve done the same – isn’t it?
So, I will visit your blogs and comment too, but I might not do so at once. I guess I’m learning to be more professional now, and will keep a separate time for blog commenting and social networking.
“The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” ~ Brandon Sanderson
Sometimes it’s good that you learn the lessons of life the hard way, because you remember them. Always set priorities, follow them, do not forget them, and change them when time demands it.
This was all about my life. What about your life? What lesson do you take back?
Over to you:
Have you also had to make any decisions in life where you reorganized your life setting priorities to what matters most? Do you set priorities in life for your family or work? Which task or role would you’ve dropped for setting priorities in life if you were in my place? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos
About the author
Harleena SinghHarleena Singh is a positive thinker and a freelance writer. She loves to write inspiring and thought provoking posts on self-improvement, family, relationships, health, and other aspects of life. She's also a blogger, who loves to share her blogging knowledge and experiences.
changefamilyfamily timehappinesslifelife priorityprioritypurpose of liferesponsibilitysocial mediasocial networkingstorytasksworking momsworking mothers