The start of a new year is the perfect time to look ahead and set your priorities for the year. When you intentionally live your life based on what’s most important to you and you hold yourself accountable, living your best life becomes much easier.
But how do you go about determining your priorities?
Because if you think everything is important, then nothing is important. You don’t have the time or energy to do everything you want to do this year. So you have to decide for yourself what parts about your life are more important than other parts.
Doing that can require making hard choices.
For example, the first home my husband and I ever bought was a fixer-upper. It was built in 1959 and had never been updated. Let me put it this way, there was wallpaper on the living room ceiling. As a way to build equity faster, we decided to complete the majority of renovations ourselves. We replaced drywall, textured walls, tiled the bathrooms and kitchen, painted every square inch, and a whole lot more. It took all of our time and money for more than a year.
We sacrificed time with friends and skipped out on a big vacation so we could finish our renovations. Was it worth it? Definitely! We made a beautiful home with our own two hands, and we did it together. We gained new skills and a better appreciation for each other’s talents and work ethic.
Hard choices are worth it when there is a big pay-off.
Living life according to your priorities has many positive benefits, such as having a more fulfilling and purposeful life while not stretching yourself too thin. A purposeful life minimizes guilt and regret. You are less likely to say, “I should have…”
THE LIFE WHEEL EXERCISE
A tool I use with my coaching clients to determine their priorities is the Life Wheel exercise.
The Life Wheel represents the different areas of a person’s life:
- Family and Friends
- Playtime, hobbies and fun
- Personal Space/Environment
I have my clients rate on a scale of 0 (low) to 10 (high) the amount of attention they are currently devoting to that area of their life, and then I have them mark it on the Life Wheel graph with a dot. Then I have them consider their ideal level in each area of their life and mark it with a star. There are no right or wrong answers.
CREATING A BALANCED LIFE
I tell them that a balanced life does not mean getting 5 in each life area as different parts of their life will need different levels of attention at different times in their life. They will need to make choices and compromises, as their time and energy are not in unlimited supply. As part of the exercise, I have them share explain their ratings and why they want to spend more or less time on a specific area.
They begin to understand that by saying “no” to something that isn’t as important gives them more space and energy to say “yes” to the things that really matter to them right now.
What is important to you this year that wasn’t important to you last year? What will you do to ensure you have the time and resources to devote to this new focus? What will you say “no” to?
There are seasons to life and priorities can change, which is why I encourage everyone to do the Life Wheel exercise once a year.
Identifying your priorities on paper makes them more real than just thinking about them in your head. Regularly check in with your Life Wheel to make sure that your actions align with your ideal balanced life. If you decided to make health a Level 8 priority this year, then you can’t be doing what you did last year that made it a Level 4. You’re worth it.
Pick where you want to go this year and pack your bag full of your priorities. Intentionally make 2024 an amazing trip around the sun!