Anything else you say about values, priorities, or what you need to do is idle chatter to ease the pain of lost purpose and misplaced priorities.
If you feel overwhelmingly busy, have more than you can do in the time allowed, and more demands are surfacing at every turn, I can relate. I get it. Work, family, community, and more demand all the energy and attention we will give.
Are your thoughts and actions filled with the most important things you want or need to do? When you reach the end of life or the end of the day, will you be glad you spent your time and energy as you did?
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In your personal life, you may want to give your energy (mental and physical) to important things like individual growth activities, recreation, hobbies, spending more meaningful time with family and friends, learning something new, serving others, and caring for your well-being. But you don’t.
In your professional life, you may want to give your energy to important things like professional development, team development, attending to employee wellbeing, going home on time, or leaving work at work. But you don’t.
In either home or business, you may want to address those things you can do something about, but you tolerate them being undone.
I recently asked someone, “What thought have you given to coaching to help you grow in your leadership?” He replied, “I think about it all the time. I want to do it. I’m just so busy. But I need to wait until I get past this (current thing).”
Here’s the big question: Why don’t you give your energy to important things you want or need to do? The answers I hear most are
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m so busy.”
“I’ll get to it after this.”
“Yeah, I should do that.”
Though intentions may be good, in this context, all these answers are victims’ excuses to cover for living with unclear values. All the answers say, “It’s not my fault.”
When you boil it down, the most honest, courageous answer to the question is that you don’t give your energy to these important things because they are not important enough to you. As a result, they are not priorities, not first things for you.
A team I worked with felt isolated from one another and expressed a seemingly desperate need to build relationships and support one another in their work. As they collectively processed the issue, individuals spoke of how “busy” they were, and collectively they seemed more tentative about acting. They wondered if they had time to answer the need. With permission for a question, I asked, “How important is this to you?” If the issue was very important to them, it would become a top priority and get done. If not high value, it would never happen.
I know what it’s like to make hard choices about where to give my mental and physical energy. I believe you do, too. How will you use time, which is a non-renewable resource? How will you use your physical energy? To what will you give your attention and mental capacities?
The journey toward confidently making these hard choices and doing the most important things begins with clarifying what is most important, which is your values. I want to help you do this with a proprietary tool that helps my clients identify the values that drive their present thoughts and actions and the values they want to embrace but have not yet done so.
You can access the download here. Once you have completed this step, we can follow this tool with other exercises that help with further clarity.
Please decide what matters most to you and live by that instead of allowing everyone and everything to choose for you. Take courage and live by your values instead of letting life push you around.
You can’t do everything, but you can do something. Be sure you do what is most important to you and those things that will last beyond your lifetime.