Ability to set priorities among your goals and activities is key to personal effectiveness. The natural tendency is to spend valuable time on minor activities that may even not be necessarily done. People tend to work along the line of least resistance. But you need to focus on those things that can make a real difference in your life.
In order to set your priorities right, you must first establish your values. Determine those things which are really important to you and then select the most important ones. Be clear about your values before setting your priorities. Let your activities and values match. What you do must align with what you believe. It is not possible to give the impression that you are preparing for an important examination while at the same busy with social media. It means you value the social media more than your study. In determining your values, what you say is not as important as what you do.
Look at your actions to determine your values. You always act in a manner consistent with what is most important to you. Look at the way you spend your time. This reflects your true values and priorities. Warren Buffet said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
Lack of alignment between your values and your activities leads to stress and unhappiness. Doing something that is not consistent with your values and beliefs affects effectiveness and productivity. Sometimes people get a job in a good company but do not last there. The reason may be that the actual work they do there is not aligned with their unique values, talents and beliefs. This is a case of having a square peg in a round hole.
People who work at jobs they do not enjoy feel frustrated and dissatisfied. But you are blessed if you find yourself in a job you enjoy. Ecclesiastes 3:22 says, “Wherefore, I perceive that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion…” God wants His children to enjoy what they do because that is how they can be fruitful and multiply. “…Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isaiah 65:22b).
It is good to examine what aspects of your life and work that give you the greatest satisfaction. You will find that they are the areas in line with your values and convictions. They are the areas contributing to your success in life.
Watch the choices you make. You always choose the value that is more important to you. I like to give people my books as gifts. Those who value knowledge and information are excited to receive the gift. Some actually read it and give me a feedback from the contents. However, one particular person I gave a book visited next time and requested me to give him some medicines instead of book as I gave him previously. He obviously values medicines more than my books.
Businessmen often have important choices to make between career, family and health. When I was a young man, I had a friend who was fond of saying that he must be a millionaire, even if it meant dying at 50. He valued money and fame more than his life. I also had a colleague who was smoking and drinking alcohol excessively. When I advised him to cut down on those vices, he maintained that man must die of something one day. Of course, one day, he died of something – cirrhosis of the liver.
How much of your time do you allocate to your family, work, social activities, games, reading, and relaxation? Of course, the amount of time you spend on these activities varies with stages in life but it gives an indication of your values and priorities.
Many of us like to establish goals – personal and business goals. I am not referring to those new year resolutions that fizzle out before the end of March. I mean real goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). Prioritise your activities to achieve such goals.
In setting priorities, remember to separate the urgent from the important. Most urgent activities are not important. That ringing of telephone or interruption from a colleague requires immediate attention but is often not important in terms of long-term value.
When you examine yourself on the basis of your values and what is really important to you, you will start making the necessary changes that lead to health, happiness and fulfilment in your life and work.