You can’t have or do it all and it isn’t a reflection of your intellect, passion or commitment. The reality is that we all make choices, by design or default, about where we will invest our time, talent and energy.
As an ambitious individual with dreams, it is easy to scatter yourself in a thousand directions as you go forward to set the world ablaze.
But proceed with caution: If you don’t prioritize, over time you can suffer from what sociologist Roy Baumeister, co-author of the book ‘Will Power’, describes as ‘goal fatigue’; you’ll simply burnout because you are spread thinly across too many pursuits.
A thoughtful understanding of what you value and why will help you focus on the achievements and experiences that matter most.
You stay on your grind. Constantly.
There is always something you want or need to do. Are your current efforts aligned with your most ardent hopes for the future?
Think about it for a minute. I’ll wait because this is important stuff.
We both know that you have genuine aspirations to do great things. Why not position yourself for success by explicitly calling out the goals that are most important so you can actively work towards them in meaningful ways?
A while back, I printed my list of life priorities with the title ‘What Matters Most’ and posted it on the bathroom mirror to keep it top of mind.
My list isn’t long or super-detailed, but I see it every day; it encourages me to make conscious decisions that support the vision I have for my life.
Consider these 5 questions as you reflect about the things that are most important to you:
1. What are my priorities?
If you don’t know what your top 5 high-level priorities are right now, give it some thought. In the absence of such focus, people tend to drift at home and work. Think about your most important life goals to gain insight. Write your goals down and post them somewhere — in a notebook, on your phone, on a post-it smacked on the side of the refrigerator, anywhere really — as map of where you most want to direct your efforts to gain traction.
2. What is my motivation?
Understanding your motivation and why your priorities matter so much will allow you to stick with them as you pursue critical goals. Intrinsic motivation (fueled from within you) is ultimately a stronger driver than extrinsic motivation (supplied by external factors) but both can play a role in your progress. Knowing your ‘why’ can keep you going when times get tough.
3. How does my mission fit in?
Who do you ultimately want to be? What impact do you want to make on the world? Our priorities act as a blueprint. Examine how your routinely spend your time and assess the degree to which you are building the life you want to live. Consider creating a personal mission statement if you haven’t already had the opportunity to do so.
4. Do I have specific goals in place?
You ideally want to have SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant, time-based) goals to take action and drive accountability for yourself. If you can’t articulate your objectives and clearly measure your progress, you are at risk for pursuing vague goals that do little to move you forward in alignment with your priorities. Review your goals and make sure that they meet these criteria.
5. What support do I need?
None of us can honestly go it alone. Engaging your support system, whether it is in the form of family, friends, relatives or co-workers can ease the challenges associated with making a purposeful, positive shift in specific areas of your life.
You don’t have to tell everyone your business, but having a few trusted, key advocates can make all the difference. Last year I decided that I needed to make some radical shifts to improve my health. I changed my diet pretty significantly and exceeded my goals.
By sharing my plans with select people, I had a small but mighty group of supporters who understood what I was doing and why. Nice, right?
The process of identifying and honoring your priorities isn’t easy, but over time you’ll become more adept at doing the things that are essential for your long-term fulfillment, happiness and well-being.
You can’t have it all, but you can absolutely invest in the areas that matter most.
Engineer Your Bliss Challenge: Create a ‘what matters most’ list with your top 5 priorities.
Which of your priorities do you want to focus on going forward? Please share your comments below.
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