Today, you will make one fundamental decision that will singularly determine the outcome of your day.
You made the same decision yesterday. And the day before. In fact, you have made this one decision every day of your career.
At some point every day you decide…
…if you are going to set your own priorities or allow someone or something else to set them for you.
When priorities are set for you…
- You struggle to stay motivated.
- You lack focus because priorities are changed frequently.
- Your life and work feel empty and aimless because you aren’t consistently working in areas of your passion.
- You find yourself overcompensating in areas where your skill and experience are constrained.
- You experience frustration because priorities that are set for you are at odds with your vision and passion.
Let’s face it – you become a victim of your environment.
Can’t help it
Last week, I read an article about 10 things leaders in a particular industry hate most about their jobs. These leaders listed working 6 to 7 days a week as one of the things they dislike most about their work.
At the end of the article, many of these same leaders commented that although they despise working long days and weekends, the nature of their work demands it. So they have learned to cope with this unfortunate reality.
Sometimes, I can get out of the office and go home; other times, I can’t. Some weeks, there’s just too much going on.
One wife commented:
I can’t help but chuckle at the phrase “day off”. It’s a rare occasion for my husband to have even one day off, and it’s never the same day from week to week.
Reading through the comments, I realized – It’s never occurred to these people that they have chosen to place a higher priority on their work than their home, family, and friends.
The truth is, very few employers require team members to work 50, 60, 70 hours a week. And if an employer does require it, no one is forcing you or me to continue working there. We choose to.
Yet, work days get longer. And time for rest and health gets shorter.
Here’s the irony – We trick ourselves into thinking that, if we work fewer hours, projects will fall through the cracks, performance will suffer, and we’ll lose our job.
If you (and your schedule) are controlled by what you do, you have made a choice to allow it. And that’s inexcusable.
Because your life and work matter. A lot! They matter far too much to be dragged along by chance – by whatever happens today.
When YOU set your priorities…
- You create margin for people – especially those who are most important to you.
- You can manage your own schedule – rather than it managing you.
- You can focus on pursuing these top priorities in your life and work.
The ability to choose your own priorities is empowering. It’s energizing. It’s enlivening.
Consider these questions –
- Have you clearly defined your top priorities?
- Have you created a personal life plan to help you with life and work balance?
- Have you written out your vision for your career or organization?
- Do you have enough margin time – enough time off – to give to these top priorities? If not, your present situation is not sustainable.
Take a few minutes to read the articles linked in the questions above. Choose one of the questions to begin working on this week.
Making the effort to clarify and establish your priorities will significantly impact your life, your work, and your relationships. Your employer will forget the many hours you put in, but your family & friends will never forget memory-making moments.
Question: What keeps us from choosing our own priorities? You can share your ideas in the comments.