What matters most to you? One of the ways that we can better manage our time, enhance our productivity and live more fully is to gain clarity about our priorities. If we can create goals that subsequently align with our priorities, we can position ourselves for forward momentum.
So. Pop quiz: Can you write down your top 5 priorities in life right now?
Take a minute to see what you come up with.
I’ll wait. Really. Get a piece of paper right now and see what you can do.
If you were able to write down your top 5 priorities straight-away, congratulations.
Go you and kudos on the clarity.
If you had a more difficult time creating your list or if you had 6+ (too many) entries, consider the following questions to help develop and refine your priorities:
1. Apply the ‘deathbed’ test
I know it is a somber thought, but stay with me…
Imagine that you are literally at the end of your life, reflecting on everything that you’ve experienced and achieved. What would you regret most knowing what you know now? What (or who) can you give you time and energy to in order to be most fulfilled going forward?
2. Identify the current sources of your happiness
What brings you the most joy right now? What fuels your happiness and inspires you to be a better version of yourself? How can you regularly engage in these activities as a part of your daily life? How do you likewise add positivity to the lives of others?
3. Think about who you want to become
As you create the vision for your life, you can begin to reverse engineer the ends to identify the means. As well-known author Dr. Stephen Covey suggested with his pioneering book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, you can “Begin with the end in mind.” What do you need to prioritize today in support of your future self?
4. Reflect on your current commitments
What responsibilities do you need to uphold for yourself and others? Our priorities have both tactical and strategic reach. Think about the things that you must do right now or in the near term in support of yourself, your family, your career, etc. What is top-of-mind for you?
Use these prompts to create a list of your top 5 priorities if you haven’t already done so. Post your list in a place where you can see it regularly and be reminded of what matters most to you. Check in with yourself periodically to make sure that your daily and longer-term actions reflect these priorities.
If an activity or assignment doesn’t reasonably support your priorities, ask yourself “do I really need to do this?”
Once you’ve given it some thoughts, you can ‘do, delegate or defer’ as appropriate.
Disclaimer: That being said – make reasonable decisions. There are some things that we don’t have a choice about doing. Stay gainfully employed. Pay bills. Do laundry. Be reasonable.
If you know what your priorities are, you have a better chance of taking actions in a way that supports your true interests.
Engineer Your Bliss Challenge: Identify your top 5 priorities right now.