7 Steps to Setting Life Priorities

  • The key is taking responsibility and initiative, deciding what your life is about and prioritizing your life around the most important things. ~ Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People made a career out of encouraging people to name their priorities and goals. Then to use those goals and priorities to schedule their lives. 

Too many of us are frantically moving through each day just trying to keep up . . . attempting to please the least satisfied and whiniest around us and ending up exhausted and frustrated.

If you don’t know what’s important to you it’s hard to make wise scheduling decisions.

Where to go? What to do? Who to include? How to change?

If you’re a procrastinator like me, it’s often easier to sit down and read a book or watch TV than pick an item off my to-do list and actually do something.

It’s time to know our priorities and organize our lives accordingly . . .

7 Steps to Setting Life Priorities:

1. List possible priority categories in no particular order.

  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Faith
  • Career
  • Finances
  • Education
  • Stuff
  • Hobbies

2. List specific priorities for each category.

  • Relationships – Spouse, children, extended family, friends, co-workers, neighbors.
  • Health – Diet, exercise, regular health screenings, add supplements, stop an unhealthy habit, start a healthy habit.
  • Faith – Read the Bible, pray more, join a church, join a small group Bible Study.
  • Career – Promotion, keep current position, become a better team member, increase sales, mentor a new co-worker.
  • Finances – Plan a budget, give to charity, pay off debt, invest, save for a purchase.
  • Education – Get a degree, home-school your children, read the classics, take a class, teach a class.
  • Stuff – Simplify, organize, share, clean and keep up.
  • Hobbies – Daydream about what you’d do if only you had the time to do it.

3. Give your priorities an eternal perspective.

(If you don’t believe in eternal life you can skip this step.)

 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Pray for an eternal perspective as you think about your list of priorities.

What if we evaluated something’s importance based on whether it would make an eternal difference? Whether or not it’s part of God’s plans and purposes for us? Whether or not it shows our love for Him and others?

4. List your priorities in order of importance.

Grab a new piece of paper and begin listing your priorities in order of importance. Begin with those people and activities you want to give a greater amount of time, and ending with those you might consider giving up.

5. Examine your calendar, to-do list, and credit card statement/checkbook to make adjustments.

I’m looking at my planner with a new point of view. I want my relationships, activities, and finances to represent those things that are important to me. It’s time to make some changes here. 

6. Make short-term and long-term goals based on your priorities. 

One more list. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten? If you had to limit “extra” activities for yourself and your children which ones could go? Do you want to start investing more? Finish your degree or get an advanced degree? This is your blueprint of your plan of action.

7. Practice saying “no!”

Expect push-back from the people in your life. There will be people who won’t like or agree with your changes. You may even live with some of them. Listen to them. Pray with them. And be ready to say “no.” It’s impossible to please everyone and part of making a list of priorities is saying “no” to those things that no longer belong.

Whew! I need to go get started. Will you join me?

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