Recently, I realized that there’s a big
difference between our priorities and our values. Oftentimes, you set your priorities based on external requirements (what does the world expect from you?). Values are the criteria by
which you allocate resources and make decisions. Your hold them high or low at a personal level. You act them out. You don’t write them down in a bullet point
list (like priorities). But it’s your values that determine the actual order of priorities you follow in life.
So, instead of trying to list priorities in
order, I grouped them into Top, Secondary and Elective categories. My
tops are health and family. They give me my life, happiness and are the
basis of my energy and effectiveness.
My secondary priorities are career and service.
They are secondary because my top priorities are not dependent on them.
Sure, if your career fails, your family suffers — but you don’t lose
them. My elective priorities are sports and hobbies. I follow them
when I have the time as they are luxuries to me.
After doing the exercise, I realized that too
often, I’ve let a secondary priority trump a top priority, which risks killing
the golden goose! I let career take a greater value than health in
several situations, skipping exercise or traveling beyond my body’s capability.
Then there are the sacrifices I’ve asked my family to make for my career
or my service to others. In some cases they are necessary and the
family is up for it, but at what point am I getting it wrong?
Here’s my takeaway. I’ll never let my
secondary priorities trump my top ones, unless it’s a pretty extreme situation. Sure, we want them all to work out, but there will be
times when you have to look at things over the long view and say, “No, my
family comes first.” You need to act like you believe, and find the
time for check ups, proper exercise and time with family. Each time you
say to yourself, “I don’t have enough time,” look around for a pesky
secondary priority gone out-of-control. It’s just waiting for you to put
it in its place.