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The Critical Importance of Prioritizing to Live a More Balanced Life

Prioritize to Achieve Better Life BalanceNote: This is a guest post by David B. Bohl of SlowdownFAST.

We try to achieve excellence in all areas of our lives – we want success at work and advancement in our careers. We want to give our families the time and attention they deserve, and we want to provide the very best for them. However, after a while, it becomes obvious that perfection is nearly impossible to attain in all aspects of our lives.

The inability to maintain our own self-imposed demands begins to cause stress and breeds feelings of inadequacy. Maintaining a high number of priorities and then attempting to carry all of them out to perfection eventually leads to frustration and burnout.

If you feel like your life is slipping out of control, or are feeling guilty because you cannot seem to find a comfortable life balance, try prioritizing as a tool to bring you to happiness and fulfillment.

By setting priorities, I am not talking about your normal time management techniques. Those are important, but even more crucial to your health and well-being is the ability to prioritize your life, on the most basic level.

Find Your Source of Inspiration

Everyone performs better when they are doing what they love. This holds true whether you are talking about your career, your marriage, or your hobbies. In order to truly give your best effort, you need to first determine what things in life provide you with genuine happiness.

Some people determine their self-worth through their amount of success at work. Others judge themselves by the success of their children. Still others count their successes by the number of friends they have.

There are many priorities in life, and each holds a different value for each of us. Some of these priorities may include:

  • Marriage
  • Career
  • Children
  • Health/Fitness
  • Religion/Spirituality
  • Travel
  • Sports
  • Friends/Social Engagements
  • Hobbies
  • Community Service

Before you can make positive changes in your life, you need to decide what is most important to you. Determine what you absolutely must have in your life in order to be happy, and what things you can do without. Would you be devastated if you lost your job, or would you be happy and fulfilled with a mediocre job but a strong, loving family life?

Over a weekend or some other time when you are away from work, seriously ponder this thought. Consider the consequences of losing certain aspects of your life and how you would feel about those changes. Ask yourself what truly makes you happy, what makes you sad, what you must have in your life, and what you can do without.

If you are honest with yourself, you should be able to set your priorities fairly easily. Determine what the single most important focus in your life is. Imagine you could only keep one of your priorities, and determine which one it would be.

Once you have found out your single most important priority in life, determine your next most important one. Then the next. Find two or three areas of your life that you absolutely must maintain to ensure your happiness.

Maintaining Your Work Life Balance

Once you have set your life’s priorities, learn how to divide your time between them. Learn to mentally separate one area of focus from the others, and then devote your entire attention to each separate priority at the appropriate time.

When you are at work, try to set aside all thoughts of home, family, hobbies, or friends. Concentrate all of your mental energy on the task at hand, which will enable you to perform more effectively.

Once you have left work behind for the day, though, make sure you mentally put it to bed as well. Once you are out of the office and on that dinner date with your spouse, turn your undivided attention on her. Do not let thoughts of work creep into your mind, and if they do, cast them away immediately.

When you are playing ball with your children, employ the same mental tactic and give them your entire attention. While you are playing sports or engaged in a hobby, put one hundred percent of your mental energy into it.

Attention to Detail Leads to Success

When you can mentally separate your priorities and engage each at the appropriate times, you will reap many benefits.

Others around you will notice your focus and attention. Bosses will be impressed by your proficiency and efficiency. Your spouse will feel more engaged in your relationship. Your children will feel more important. Skills used in hobbies and sports will likely improve. If you are a religious person, increased focus when you worship will lead to an even deeper spirituality.

Now It is Time to Clean House

Clarity of thought cannot occur when there is mental clutter getting in the way. By going through and giving yourself a mental housecleaning, you will find it easier to determine which aspects of your life deserve focus. Eliminate those things from your life that do not bring you satisfaction or enjoyment, freeing you up to turn all of your attention towards those things that make you happy.

When you can accomplish this, you will finally be living an inspired life, giving your energy to those things that give you fulfillment. Whether your priorities include work, friends, travel, or family, giving your attention to them will no longer seem like a chore. You will recognize them as being necessary for your personal well being.

You will not miss those things you have eliminated because you now know they rob you of energy that can be better used elsewhere. You will discover a renewed sense of energy and excitement for your life and the possibilities it holds for you – because you are now in greater control of where you are going.

Image by aeu04117.

David B. Bohl writes about living your vision at his own blog: SlowdownFAST. If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, or read one of his most popular articles, Conflicting Desires: Knowing That We Have Enough vs. Always Wanting to Better Ourselves.

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  • Jennifer March 11, 2008, 10:10 pm

    Wow! What an article! Very well written! I just finished a post about time management and evaluation and priorities and then came to check out this blog for the day. What a coincidence, or not? Our post compliment each other well. This is exactly what I’ve been learning in an excellent book by Charles Hobbs called Time Power. You wrapped it up in a nutshell.

  • John D March 12, 2008, 10:43 am

    Wonderful post. It seems that people are so caught up in doing, that they forget how important having balance in one’s life is to living a healthy life.

  • David B. Bohl @ SlowDownFAST.com March 12, 2008, 3:54 pm

    Jennifer,

    Thanks. I liked your post as well.

    John D,

    Well said. I was at a James Arthur Ray seminar last night. He said “It isn’t what you do (in life), it’s how you do it.” I disagree. I’d say that it isn’t what you do, it’s who you are when you’re doing it.”

  • Lori@betweenusgirls March 12, 2008, 8:41 pm

    Great advice! Before you can add more of what you want in life, you have to figure out what that is and make room for it.

    Your advice to figure out what your priorities are is another way of saying you need to define your values. In my work with people who are trying to make changes in their lives I have found that when goals don’t mesh with a person’s values, they’ll never work hard enough to reach them. And if they don’t make room in their lives for what really matters by getting rid of what doesn’t, it’s a no win situation.

    I hope people try out your valuable suggestions.

    Lori
    http://www.betweenusgirls.info