Effective Priority Management
It's February! How are you doing in following through with the goals you have set? What success have you achieved? What failures have you experienced?
You may remember me sharing in a previous post that one of my goals this year is to feel confident in a swimsuit by the time we open our pool. This goal is important to me for several reasons, but one of the most important is because to feel confident, for me, is to be in a place of health in my body. It is not about a size or a number on a scale: I want to treat my body well so it performs well for as long as I get to walk this earth.
In order to achieve this goal I have to make changes to my eating and exercise habits, both of which require a different use of my time. Change is hard, but harder still when we don't know why we are making those changes. This is where Priority Management comes in.
Priorities are those things in our lives we value the most. They are defined as "a thing that is regarded as more important than another." When we make time for what matters most we feel a sense of value to the life we are living. When we don't we can feel as if our lives are out of control.
My physical health has always been a priority for me, but I didn't always live out that priority in how I chose to use my time. It was much more convenient to eat on the run than to plan ahead, much easier to stay on the couch than to get on my treadmill or head to the gym. As a result I began to dislike my body. It is not because my body was "bad" but because I was not living the way I know I should to honor the body I have been given.
When the choices we make do not reflect the priorities we have we can feel out of control, stressed out, even disappointed in who we are. We can then get stuck in a pattern of unhealthy living that keeps us trapped in a lifestyle we do not enjoy.
It may seem easier to keep with the status quo, but it will not help us build a life we love.
Here are some strategies to effectively manage your priorities:
Identify your priorities. This may seem obvious, but try it. Sit down and make a list of the priorities you have in your life. Here are mine (in order):
Go deeper in my relationship with Jesus.
Take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs so I am effective for others.
Honor and develop my marriage and relationship with my husband.
Attempt to effectively parent my children in the season they are in.
Develop family contentedness in our current season.
Take care of the home we have been blessed with so those who enter feel welcome and can experience peace.
Rank your priorities. Rank your list from most to least important. To be clear, they are ALL important, but some actually positively impact and support others. For example, if I am in good physical, emotional or spiritual health, I am much more effective in taking care of my family or home so I rank my health above those things so that I can take care of them well. What on your list can have a positive impact on other priorities? Rank your priorities according to this perspective.
Schedule your priorities. If something is not on your to-do list or calendar, does it get accomplished? Probably not. And, if it's not on our schedule we can say yes to other things which may make it seem as if there is no time to implement the changes we want to make. The truth is there is time. We all have 24 hours in a day, but how we use them matters. To be effective in managing our priorities we have to use our time according to them.
Stop belittling your priorities. Your priorities are YOUR priorities. No two of us have the same order to them. When we belittle our priorities we do not value them in how we choose to spend our time. You are not "just" a mom, you are not "just" an employee. You are not "just" anything. You are. When we belittle ourselves and the priorities of our lives we succumb to unintended pressure to use our time to build importance in other ways.
This past month I have had to make many difficult choices in managing my priorities so that I can take better care of my physical health. Each time I have been confronted with a choice, I have needed to remind myself why this particular choice matters. The result if choosing to make my physical health a priority has been well worth it as I have experienced unforeseen benefits. There is more energy, a clarity to my focus (no more time to wander through my day), new friendships, and the regular encouragement from the women I have met and my trainer has spilled over into other priority areas as well.
What benefits could managing your priorities have on you?