Priorities set the tone for your life. Your priorities demand your attention, consume your time, and take precedence over everything else. What are your priorities?
When you do not set clear priorities for yourself, you are inundated with distractions, lesser tasks, and activities that waste your time and drain your energy. Having clear priorities helps you manage your time better, but it’s not about efficiency or productivity. It’s about clarity.
Priorities help you get clear on what is essential to you and what is unnecessary. They become the filters through which you choose all actions, activities, goals, invitations, opportunities, and problems.
If you do not deliberately choose your priorities, they will be chosen for you. And you will find yourself spending your attention, energy, and time in things that empty you rather than fill you. You will feel drained and rushed and unfulfilled. This is how you end up feeling burntout — even in things you love.
You may be asking: “So how do I set clearer priorities for myself?” Here are three suggestions for setting priorities.
THREE SUGGESTIONS FOR SETTING PRIORITIES
- CRYSTAL CLEAR OUTCOME
- ANCHOR IN TRUTH
- CHOOSE BEGINNING ACTION
1. CRYSTAL CLEAR OUTCOME
Clear visions create clear priorities. When you have a crystal clear vision of the outcome you desire, you are able to discern what is important in making that vision a reality. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (public library), Stephen R. Covey called it “beginning with the end in mind.”
Beginning with the end in mind requires you set a clear vision of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW. The most compelling endings or outcomes are ones where you FEEL DRIVEN to make it a reality.
Once you have a crystal clear outcome, priorities come into crystal clear focus.
Crystal clear outcomes are the North Star by which you align your direction in life.
2. ANCHOR IN TRUTH
Priorities often times are rooted in values. Values can be a good starting point for setting priorities. But an even better foundation for priorities is the bedrock of Truth. Values are often burdened with unnecessary baggage. Truth is free of it.
Truth is things things as they really were, are, and will be. Truth is the light which clarifies all darkness. Truth cuts to the heart of the essential.
Anchoring in truth means setting yourself and your priorities in the heart of what is essential about you and what you want. Anything more or less than that will be unnecessary.
In the Hindu tradition, there is a principle called Neti Neti, which translates to “not this, not that”. The principle is that you understand Truth and the nature of reality by first eliminating what isn’t true/real. Thus, “not this, not that” becomes a process of elimination through which one arrives at Truth. In the same way, you can apply Truth to “not this, not that” in your life to eliminate the unnecessary things and anchor priorities in Truth.
When your priorities are anchored in Truth, you will not be overcome by the overwhelm of life.
3. CHOOSE BEGINNING ACTION
Beginning actions are the essential practices of priorities. Each priority is set in motion with an action. The action you choose can make or break a priority. If the action is anchored in something that is not Truth for you, that action will be ineffective, and you will not follow through on that priority.
On the other hand, priorities coupled with beginning actions anchored in truth and aligned with crystal clear outcomes, are the actions you can rely on and go back to again and again when you get distracted or of course.
Those beginning actions or essential practices remind you of your priorities, and help reset yourself. When you feel lost or confused or unsure about what to do, beginning actions get you moving forward. That forward motion brings with it the memory of priority, and the momentum to continue onward.
Beginning actions snap you back into your priorities.
And So. . .
It’s clear intentional priorities are created. Anything created takes time and effort and patience and practice. Your priorities run your life. So make sure to run your priorities.