What matters most to you?
Our September 1st blog post was all about answering this question for yourself (if you didn’t read it, check it out here), so now that you’ve done that, how do you build your life around it?
Well, it’s all about prioritizing properly.
Here are our practical steps to help you prioritize:
- Identify what exactly you want to achieve
- Develop a tangible plan (we call it your non-negotiable) that will move you toward your goal but is flexible enough to be manageable and unintimidating. Having too strict or overambitious of a goal will likely prove unproductive.
- Decide on checkpoints for progress or a final goal where you can consider your life successfully centered around it.
It might look like this…
You have decided that what matters most to you is staying in touch with what’s going on in your kids’ lives. You work a busy job that requires some late nights and weekends, but you never want that to cost you your connection with your kids. For you, a manageable non-negotiable is to never miss family dinner two nights in a row. It may take some creative planning – maybe it means that you pause your work some evenings, drive home for dinner, and then go back to the office. Maybe it even means that you need to make some sacrifices in your career, but if the connection with your family is truly what matters most to you, you’ll need to stay strong in the face of pressure to do otherwise. Share this goal – ask a co-worker to keep you accountable to leaving work on time, and ask the rest of your family to make this a priority too. If they’re just as busy, planning will be even more work – so maybe someone will need to skip soccer practice once a week or move violin lessons to a different night. In this case, success might be when you don’t need to work to make time for family dinner anymore – everyone arranges their schedule by habit to leave at least a few evenings free during the week.
Perhaps instead what matters most to you is pursuing a healthier lifestyle, and your non-negotiable is exercising every day. We’re all familiar with how difficult it can be sometimes to be diligent even with something as simple as this. But you can be creative – get off the bus one stop early and walk the extra distance, do a few jumping jacks or squats when you get up or before going to bed, find a social dancing group that you can join with friends. Usually, this is an easy goal to find someone to keep you accountable. Explain why you take the stairs instead of the elevator and you’ll probably find several people who say “that’s a great idea, I’m going to do that too.” This builds a community of encouragement that you can participate in and benefit from. Checkpoints here may be when you’re able to jog for ten minutes without taking a break (or twenty, or thirty), or when you realize that climbing up the five flights of stairs to your office doesn’t wind you anymore.
Or maybe what matters most to you is developing a new hobby. You’ve wanted for years to learn how to draw or speak a language or spend more time reading or writing and this point in your life is the perfect time to make that a priority. So say you’ve always wanted to learn to speak Russian. A non-negotiable could be 15 minutes of exercises on Duolingo each day, or getting an audiobook to listen to on your drive to and from work. Do you have a friend that speaks Russian, or one who wants to? Have coffee once a week or month and try not to speak English, no matter how self-conscious you might be by your lack of skill – there’s no better teacher than practice! Checkpoints in this category may be easier to come by – you successfully master verb tenses, memorize a certain number of vocabulary words, or make it through an entire coffee date without using English once.
And don’t forget – just because this is what matters most to you right now doesn’t mean that it always needs to be. Perhaps you master the skill you were working to develop and you can move on to the next one, perhaps exercising every day becomes habit and so you don’t need to put as much focus into it, leaving you free to mindfully pursue something else, or perhaps your children grow up and move out and keeping in touch just looks different. You’re always free to reevaluate or to change your mind, but for now, don’t be afraid to commit to it.
The Davine Team