If you don’t determine your priorities in life, someone will do it for you.
If you are not clear about your priorities, each wind of change likely moves you further from your goals, until you end up losing sight of them. Or what is even worse, that other people decide for you, that determine what things, tasks and goals you should give priority in your life. And so you will end up chasing goals that do not belong to you, running after other people’s dreams.
From direct pressure to emotional manipulation: The different types of control
In the world, there will always be people willing to tell us what we should do and how we should do it, improvised teachers, of everything and connoisseurs of nothing who want to impose their points of view and way of seeing the world.
They are usually arrogant people, who do not conceive of anything beyond their way of understanding. Often these people resort to criticism and disapproval or even contempt to prevail. And if we are not strong enough and have failed to build bulletproof self-esteem, it is easy to fall into their networks.
However, we usually suffer different pressure mechanisms. Some people act more surreptitiously by resorting to blaming manipulation, playing the role of victims, thereby ensuring that we assume their priorities and forget our own.
This type of control is much more difficult to detect and, therefore, more dangerous, since it usually comes from close people of our surrounding with whom we have a closer emotional bond. These close people will not attempt to impose their priorities by “force” but will end up doing so by playing sensitive strings as our sense of responsibility.
The parable about priorities in life
They say that one day a philosophy teacher stood in front of his students and, without saying a word, took a large empty jar and filled it with rocks approximately two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They all said yes.
So the teacher took a box of much smaller pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, and the stones rolled to fill the space between the rocks. The teacher asked his students again if the bottle was full.
They all agreed again that it was full.
However, the teacher took a litter box and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining spaces. “Now,” said the professor, “the bottle itself is full. This jar is like your life. Rocks are the essential things that give meaning to our existence in this life. Pebbles are also important, but not so much. And the sand represents all inconsequential things.
“If we put the sand in the jar first, there will be no room for rocks or pebbles. The same happens in our life. If we waste all our time and energy on small and inconsequential things, we will never have room for the things that count.”
Why is it so crucial to have priorities in life?
“No wind is favourable for those who do not know which port their ship is going to.” If we are not clear about what we want to achieve in life, we are more likely to lose valuable success opportunities and end up wasting much of our unique potential.
Have clear priorities in life, on the contrary, helps us achieve our life goals. Being clear about what we want to achieve and where we want to go is vital to focus on it and achieve our goals.
In this way, we will be able to take advantage of the opportunities as soon as they arise and get closer every day to the goal that we have set ourselves.
“To change your life, you need to change your priorities.” – Mark Twain
It allows us to be more productive. Being clear about our priorities will prevent us from wasting precious time and energy on tasks that do not give us much.
Not losing sight of our goals helps us find the most direct path, without unnecessarily wasting energy on things that not only do not contribute anything to us but even lead us away from our goals.
Returns control to us. Although we are aware that there are factors that we cannot control, having clear priorities in life empowers us.
It allows us to take back the reins of our lives, developing an internal locus of control that will make us more proactive people.
5 unique steps to determine your priorities in life
In life, there are priorities, and it is essential to have them clear, or we risk reaching the end of the road without having done what we wanted, dragging the heavy burden of repentance.
Unfortunately, it is not usually easy to realize that we are moving away from our dreams because it is a gradual process in which habits, customs, emergencies and unforeseen events prevail, filling our lives, not even leaving us time to think.
The good news is that we can stop this vicious circle:
1. Dissect your day by day
Think about what you do every day. Dissect the hours. Conscientiously. What do you spend more time during your day? What tasks do you spend more time during your week? And during the month? And at the end of the year?
A good exercise is to take an ordinary week in your life and write down what you do each day, as well as the approximate time frame you dedicate to each activity. The results are likely to amaze you.
You may find that you spend a tremendous amount of time on tasks that are either inconsequential or add nothing to the long-term goals you have set for yourself. It is normal.
Often we let ourselves be carried away by the routine, the unforeseen consume our time, and the urgencies of others prevail. Your first step is to be aware that you have fallen into that loop.
2. Ask yourself what’s important to you right now
Pick up paper and pencil and write the 10 things that you consider are the most important to you right now. Analyze them and ask yourself: How important will they be in 5 or 10 years? Do those priorities help you reach your goal in life, or are they an obstacle? Are they your priorities, or are they the priorities someone has set?
Keep in mind that priorities also change over time. Perhaps what was important to you a decade ago is no longer critical. Try to take that psychological distance when analyzing your current priorities.
3. What do you love to do with your life?
Ask yourself what is important to you. Not for others, unless your priority in life is to please them. That does not mean adopting a selfish attitude but just prioritizing your happiness. It is not a good or a bad thing, and it is just what you consider important.
Remember that one of the main obstacles for setting our priorities is fear of criticism, rejection or anger of others, which can push us to choose what is socially acceptable, but not what is most important to us.
4. Identify your excuses
Throughout this process of introspection, doubts and excuses often appear. The mind finds it difficult to deal with cognitive dissonance, so it prefers to cling to reasons for not changing and maintaining the status quo. It is a process that we often perform unconsciously, but that is important to bring to light.
“If it’s a priority you’ll find a way. If it isn’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn
So once you have identified the gap between your dreams and your current priorities, it is time to dig into those limiting reasons. Perhaps it is not just about social pressure, but that social pressure has given you the perfect reason not to risk, stay within the limits of your comfort zone and not create conflict.
5. Change your priorities and routines, if necessary
If you find that there is a big gap between your desires, dreams and goals and your day-to-day, you have probably organized your routine by letting yourself be carried away by others.
This is the time you should ask yourself if you need to turn your life around and rethink your daily priorities.
There are times in life when we need to put off some of our dreams and change our priorities, but we must make sure that this is a transitory situation, not complete desertion.
We may not be able to improve our lifestyle radically, but at least we can incorporate more things that add meaning, meaning and value.
A technique to manage daily priorities
In your day by day activities, it is easy to get carried away by the unforeseen, the supposed emergencies and the priorities of others. Running on autopilot, letting ourselves be carried away by the flow of events means that we occupy our entire day with tasks that do not contribute much.
One of the techniques to better manage our day-to-day priorities is peer comparison. It is about comparing the different options we have by, selecting the most important one of the two.
In this way, you can deactivate that automatic pilot and begin to consciously decide how to occupy your day with things that bring you well-being or contribute in some way to your goals in life. After all, it is not life, if you do not feel alive.