Real Priorities

Real Priorities

As high achievers, we find time, we sit down and we make goals. We prepare a schedule.

And I’d like to say on behalf of all goal-oriented people that the most frustrating thing is to get to the end of the week only to realize that you didn’t get all those things done that you needed to. And then the discouragement, the comparison, and the thoughts of “why am I so incapable?” start to set in.

It all comes down to priorities.

Sometimes we claim to have priorities, but then those things that we put into that priority category don’t actually get done. For example, so many people say that family is their priority and yet, when their plate gets full, quality time with family is the first thing to go. So here are four tips on feeling accomplished by the end of the week.

Write your priorities in a list from highest to lowest. I’m not talking about assignments and projects. I want you to take a step out of the business world and the money world and to just be a person for a second. What is your purpose? What are your whys? Is it family? Is it serving people? Is it spirituality and finding peace? Is it appreciating beauty or history or whatever else? Write your real priorities down. Of course personal achievement and work can be on the high end of your priority list, but make sure that the first thing on that list is something that you would want to claim as a priority on your deathbed when things like money don’t matter anymore.

When planning, put your priorities in first and don’t sacrifice them for fake priorities. A report due this week and a project deadline next week might allow you to keep your job, but will it strengthen your familial relationships once you can’t remember the last time you spent an hour with your kids? Remember your real priorities because the reality is that you’ll get to the end of the week and there will still be things you didn’t get done. At that point, the real question is not “how much did I get done?” but “was my time well spent?”

Eliminate “distraction” by giving time to things that you clearly like doing. For example, if talking to your significant other “distracts” you, clearly, you need to actually plan in time to talk to your significant other–not just for them, but for you, too. If you scroll through political posts on social media during the week, maybe you should plan in time to read more legitimate political articles if you’re truly interested in that. Are your distractions really distractions or are they merely a manifestation of neglected priorities?

Take care of yourself. Put your physical and mental health on the top of your priority list. You can’t do anything effectively if you’re sleep deprived or running on coffee and bagels. Sufficiently nutritious meals are so underrated. A simple morning or evening walk can improve your effectiveness way more than an all-nighter can. And for heaven’s sake, drink at least eight cups of water a day!

The stress and frustration that comes from looking back at an “incomplete” week can often be solved by making your life more meaningful rather than more “accomplished.” Are your priorities really your priorities or are they simply things that you wish you could implement in some ideal life that feels unreachable? Let’s face it, you’re never going to “catch up” with the world. As hard as you try, it’s simply impossible.

The answer might be simpler than you think. Just step back, rethink, re-prioritize and breathe.