A life based on your priorities, around what is most important to us sounds to me like a considered, good quality life.
I have been reading about and implementing Minimalist ideas into my life for many years. Minimalists talk a lot about priorities and this has influenced the way I live my life. I wrote a blog about making good decisions where I mentioned Minimalism. You can read it here.
I like to live with a loose, flexible framework, or a guide structured around my priorities. I find it helps me to bring my life back to simplicity by facilitating my decision-making. It helps me to focus on doing what matters with greater ease. In this way, I am creating my own version of a simple beautiful life!
And I believe any tools and habits that support an easier lifestyle are a good and helpful thing. After all, don’t so many of us aspire to live a good life?!
So How Do You Create A life Based on Your Priorities?
1. Learn to say no!
Our biggest brakes to our forward momentum in life, and work, are a distraction and overwhelm – or shiny object syndrome.
I am a shiny object syndrome sufferer. I am an Enneagram 7 which means that I am interested in everything! I am very easily distracted because I want to do all the work, all the courses, try all the social media platforms, learn how to create videos, write blogs, write emails, go Live, and maybe even create a podcast! Even that sentence is exhausting! And there is always something else to do.
I guess it is a type of FOMO (fear of missing out), especially when building a business, or parenting young children, and wanting to try out new strategies and ideas that might work better in life.
What I have found, however, is that when I spread myself too thin, and over-commit, and try to do it all, it soon feels like complete overwhelm and my progress slows, or stops.
Learning to say no is a skill worth practising as it can improve our state of mind and our productivity.
2. Learn to ask what is essential?
There is a piece of advice that states that we teach what we need to learn. It stands to reason, then that I need to teach prioritising essentials and ignoring all the shiny objects trying to get my attention.
By asking ourselves what is essential, we are able to focus on what matters and ignore or cast aside everything that is unnecessary to make progress with our task at hand, or our goals.
Greg McKeown wrote a book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less where he asks:
Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
Do you sometimes feel overworked and underutilized?
Do you feel motion sickness instead of momentum?
Does your day sometimes get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?
Have you ever said “yes” simply to please and then resented it?
If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.
The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s not about getting less done. It’s about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.Greg McKeown
What are your main priorities
My family is my immediate and number one priority, and I organise my life around this. I wrote a blog post that mentions what I do in large part, I do for my children. I called it “Our children learn lessons, we leave a legacy,” and you can read it here.
Increasingly, however, I am learning that I am a top priority too.
- If I am not ok, the family feels it.
- If I am taking responsibility for myself, and looking after myself, the family feels this too.
And the latter feeling is much nicer.
Are you clear on your priorities?
What really matters to you?
Why do you do what you do every day?
The 4 Life Quadrants
Thanks to the training I received at SFM I now use a simple 4 quadrant model to check in with my life regularly. We all have 4 general areas of our life that we are aiming to balance: Health, Wealth, Self and Social. I wrote a post about this which you can read here.
If my social quadrant is going well; I am connecting with family and friends and feeling healthy in that area, but my self quadrant is not so strong, I know I need to spend a little more time and energy focusing on myself, to bring my self-care up to a similar level as my social quadrant.
When it comes to living according to my priorities, I will use the 4 quadrants – health, wealth, self, and social to clarify what my priorities are in each area.
I usually set a monthly goal in each quadrant – simply to be used as a guide, so I have a focus for the month.
My frameworks are not about restriction, or work – I have created them simply to lend structure to the way I live my life.
1. A life Based on Your Priorities – Health
A while ago I realised that I was ageing (it hit me one day!), and I decided that I wanted to keep up with my girls. So I started running, literally, in my 40’s.
Over the past few years, this realisation and the action I took has been a catalyst for taking better physical care of myself generally.
- Besides running twice a week,
- I now go for health checkups
- I have started to look after my back, which I broke years ago –
- I go to pilates classes
- I also saw a biokineticist and do exercises regularly
- I try to start the day with a glass of water
- I make healthy smoothies
- And aim to choose the healthy option nutrition-wise (most times, in moderation)
- Recently I have also started kundalini yoga for flexibility
With all these steps I am focusing on myself, but I am also looking after my health for my family.
Having a meaningful reason for making these changes, makes it easier to make the changes.
2. A life Based on Your Priorities -Wealth
I am creating work around my family and myself, for me, this is a life based on my priorities.
I want to be around for my girls
This is why I have chosen a work-from-home, flexible digital business. It is also why I am endeavouring to create a business that is about good and quality and beauty and supporting others to improve their quality of life – because I am striving to be a decent role model for my girls.
I am creating work around my personal interests
Through self-focus I have rediscovered my interests and am creating a business around them. I have something inside me that needs to get out into the world, as do we all. So I am taking action to do this. The journey is simply transformational.
When we work hard for something we love, it becomes easy to get up a little earlier to do a bit of work in the early morning or open the laptop in the evening, when the kids are in bed, because it is enjoyable.
I set out to learn all the digital business skills I use today by watching some free training videos which you can watch here too if you feel you want to upskill or start an online business.
Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passionSimon Sinek
3. A life Based on Your Priorities – Self
I have told this story before, but in brief – I realised when my children got a little older (the youngest is 7 as I write this) that I had been so busy caring for others that I had forgotten myself.
During some training, we were asked to list our interests and passions, and I found that I could not!
It dawned on me that I needed to turn the spotlight back on myself;
- get to know myself again,
- discover who I was,
- what I liked,
- what skills I had (at the time I could find no current skills either),
- what I stood for.
It took a little time to get started focusing on me – but it was so important. And now it is much easier.
Mostly – it was important to do this for me.
Also, it was important for my family.
But I need to stress that I did not refocus and reprioritise myself for them only. This was primarily for me, and this is an important act of self-love for any of us who feel a bit lost and directionless.
It seems to me that this loss of self is all-too-common with primary caregivers who throw themselves completely into parenting and working and homemaking.
I now feel far more comfortable prioritising myself, because I know that my needs and desires count too.
And so I want to support others who may have lost themselves, to come back to themselves.
I wrote a blog post about the transformational magic of self-investment which you can read here.
4. A life Based on Your Priorities – Social
Connecting with others is a priority for humans. We need community. We also need to give and receive support and care and warm hugs (to borrow words from Olaf). For many of us, this fact has really been driven home during the pandemic lockdowns and social restrictions.
I try to make it a priority to connect with a friend or family member every day. It makes me feel good, and I am guessing it makes them feel good too. Even if just for a moment to know someone is thinking of them.
A life based on your priorities can be a simple act of care, for me and for others.
A challenge for you
So will you have a go at clarifying your priorities?
Will you take a few minutes alone to grab a pen and paper, divide a page into 4 and jot down some priorities in each life quadrant?
If you do decide to there is no need to overcomplicate it. Simply let it flow onto the paper and see what comes out.
It could be your first step to a better quality of life!
If you would like to, post a comment about how it went.
As always, thanks for reading.