If you ever want to just stress yourself out for some ridiculous reason, watch A YouTube video of plate spinners. You know, those magic acts where someone runs around frantically balancing multiple plates on top of poles? If that crazy spectacle hits too close to home, it’s time to get real about setting your priorities.
You know by now that work-life balance is a myth, right? Trying to juggle the myriad responsibilities that come your way like a crazy magician spinning plates just leaves us exhausted, guilty and underperforming in key areas. The answer is to focus on becoming a balanced person by using your personal empowerment to choose your priorities based on your values. And then exercise your authority to unapologetically live them.
Prioritizing your priorities is a manifestation of self-love that will enable you to find personal balance, power, peace and possibility. Let’s talk about how to make it happen. Here’s 7 steps to figuring out what’s really important and finding your balance.
Align priorities with your values and vision. Invest quiet time in tuning into your most important values. When you know what is critical to you as a person, you can gauge if your priorities are in sync with your values and if they’re moving you further in your desired direction.
Be a decision maker. Too often, we paralyze ourselves with fear of making the wrong choice or cutting off options. But values-based priority setting requires real choices. It can help to use the 3-3-3 rule, asking yourself, ‘Will this be important to me in three days, three weeks or three years?’ Often, something that seems weighty in the moment doesn’t have long-term impact. Cut that one free and focus on those that really matter.
Consider your life season. There is so much pressure to do everything and be everything right now. But the season of your life can provide great inspiration and direction for priority setting. Maybe you don’t have time to learn French while working full time and raising three little kids. Resolve to enjoy the heck out of your kids now and commit to learning French when they grow more independent.
Get specific. This is my favorite part because it’s how we bring our priorities to life. Getting specific enables you to outline how you will show up and meet your priorities. Many people see family as a priority, for example. But what exactly does that mean to you at this stage of life?
In my life, I have prioritized time with my parents. I make it specific and put it into action by committing to visiting one weekend each quarter. That’s realistic for me and enables both me and them to plan.
Stop over-committing. If you can’t say no, you can’t set priorities. You have to make choices. Renowned leadership consultant and best-selling author, Brian Tracy, says a lot of our stress comes from working on low-priority tasks. When you actually spend your time doing what you value most, stress disappears.
Even at work, you don’t always have to say yes. Show your boss how a low-priority task will take your attention and productivity away from a high-priority project with a much bigger payoff. At home, considering your life season can halt excessive volunteering. You may have volunteered a lot in the past and can again in the future even if you can’t make that a priority today.
Discover dabbling. This one may sound counter-intuitive, but when you enjoy the calming structure of strong priorities, you get a little freedom to dabble now and then. So, you can’t study French right now, but you can Netflix a French movie with English subtitles, enjoy dinner at a French restaurant or, what the heck, grab a croissant with your French Roast to go.
Remove pain and guilt. Sharing your priorities eliminates guilt and that constant sense that you aren’t doing enough because it creates realistic expectations for you and others. My parents look forward to our quarterly visits rather than wondering when they’ll see me next. Your daughter will feel confident knowing you’ll be there for Saturday soccer games and comfortable carpooling with others for weeknight practices. Your boss can count on you to clear out end-of-day emails once your kids go to bed and understand you need to leave the office by five.
Knowing, setting and keeping values-based priorities boosts your sense of self-worth and self-love as it increases productivity, decreases stress and points you in the direction of your dreams.
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP NOW!
It really is possible to live your life focused on your most critical priorities and to enjoy a greater sense of personal balance and contribution. Pick up a copy of Be Bold. Be Brilliant. Be You. and let’s walk that journey together with specific action steps that point the way.