Identifying and Living Your Priorities
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Work life is filled with urgent requests, pressing tasks and time-consuming needs that can leave us feeling burned out. Part of the reason may be that these seemingly important things are pulling us away from our priorities. Figuring out what you truly want to focus on and keeping that trajectory can be tricky but is possible. By identifying your priorities and, exercising personal choice and living your values will help you feel empowered and fulfilled. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Know your values. Take some time to consider what is important to you personally. Don’t default to the values of the culture or your family and what you “think” you should do. Avoid focusing on external rewards, such as money or the approval of others.
- Survey your time. Take a look at your last 6 months and reflect on what you’ve done. Make a list of what you want to maintain, improve or remove across different areas of your life such as well-being, relationships, work and personal life. Make a plan for those areas you want o improve. For example, if spending more time with family is a priority, schedule daily and weekly time together.
- Don’t over schedule. Many people overestimate what they can accomplish in a single day. Limit yourself to three key things that match up with your values and priorities. Once those items are complete you can move to other tasks if needed.
- Consider job functions. Our work priorities are often placed upon us but you can help control your actions so both your personal values and those of the company are met. Pull out your job description and review your goals to ensure they align with your strengths and values. If you don’t feel you are the right person for a certain job, discuss this with your supervisor.
- Focus on the important, not the urgent. Urgent issues are often not important and important issues are often not urgent. Urgent tasks are often related to someone else’s priorities and can take hours away from what we want to focus on. Although it’s not easy, these urgent tasks need to be ruthlessly eliminated if possible. Think about you can say no to these requests or delegate them to others.
- Contemplate before you commit. Don’t ever say yes to a request unless you take the time to consider the impact on your schedule and work. Do you really want to do it? Does it align with your strengths and values? Do you have the time and energy to do the project? Asking yourself some questions first will help you make an informed decision.
- Shift priorities by season. Different seasons may mean a shift in your life priorities. Think about areas of your life such as career, relationships, recreation or learning a new skill. November and December for instance might be the season to center your time on less work focus and more on being present with family. Don’t feel like you need to do it all during every season. Allowing yourself plan out priorities and not live on overdrive and autopilot will mean you have the power to live out your priorities with intention.