I think we resist making priorities clear because we think the act of deciding which thing is more important than another will be difficult. So we avoid the difficult conversation, in this case with ourselves. We avoid setting our priorities and, by default, everything is important and our over-worked, busy lives come out of this.
We tell ourselves we don’t get to choose our priorities. We have to work. We have to take care of our family. We have to pay the bills. Even within our “have to’s” we have a choice. So if we’re not choosing our priorities, who is?
It’s work, at first, like developing any new habit.
For a lot of us, it’s not familiar to spend an hour with no distractions and get all of our actions, ideas and to-do’s on paper. Then really thinking about what matters to us and prioritizing that list. But, putting focus into very concretely creating your priorities will better empower you to manage your time.
As an example, I have many interests: coaching, counseling, essential oils, yoga, traveling. I work very hard to try to accomplish everything I want to achieve. When I was asked to prioritize my actions related to these interests I resisted strongly. I care about all of them and didn’t want to put one lower down on the list. But without prioritization, ideas, aspirations, thoughts and plans were all whirling around in my head. All “needing” to be done. It was a recipe for exhaustion and frustration. There were moments when everything would align and I’d feel great, but they were short lived. As soon as one important action came off my list, there was another behind it that “should” have been done months ago. This is a clear sign that prioritization was lacking.
Create Your Priorities
When I finally did sit down and whiteboard my priorities across my year it actually felt good. And I also noticed that all the mind chatter about the things that were not priorities was now gone! Like magic! Presto! It’s not that I can’t have all of these wonderful things in my life. Counterintuitively, prioritizing them enables me to make more progress and do it from a clearer place.
So if creating my new coaching offering is currently priority #1 for me and Essential Oils is lower on the list, this means as much as I love my Essential Oil business, if a conference were to come up in the near future it would be an easy “no” for me. Because, for the next 30 days, creating that program is one of my top priorities and is where I’m focusing my energy. I’m not ignoring my other priorities. I’m consciously choosing how much energy is going to go where. When I get a great new idea, it goes on a list not into action. And monthly I’ll review and reassess if needed. By doing this I’m not giving up my dreams, I’m giving them room to happen. I’m still learning and building my muscle in this practice but when I do it I see and feel the difference in my life.
Do You Choose Overwhelm or Prioritizing?
A lot of my clients are in overwhelm with so much to do and no time to stop and look at what they are doing. Prioritizing is painful at first, but so is the exhausting busyness of your life. When you figure out where you are choosing to say no (for now), then you know clearly where you’re putting your attention for the next 30 days. It’s uncomfortable and all your thoughts about why this isn’t going to work for you (resistance) will come up. And the good news is, you get to choose your thoughts. But first, you have to bring them to consciousness and look at them so you can shake lose thoughts/beliefs that no longer serve you.
Prioritizing equals authority over your busyness. Are you ready to love your “to-do” list?