prioritiesMany people mistakenly seek to live a “balanced life.”  They believe that a balanced life will lead to greater happiness.  The problem is that if you live a balanced life, roughly everything in your life gets equal time.  However, not everything in your life is equally important.  As a result, to be truly happy, you instead need to focus on your priorities.

By focusing on our priorities, we are able to structure our lives so that our time is spent on those things that are most important to us.  Below are ways to create a life that reflects your top priorities.

Choose Your Priorities Based on the Season of Your Life

Our lives have seasons.  For example, for the last 18 years, I have been in the season of being a fulltime mother.  However, that season recently ended when my daughter went to college.  Now my parenting consists of text messages and the occasional late-night phone call.

Before my daughter left for college, for 18 years she was my #1 priority.  Everything else, from my career to my other relationships, took a backseat to her.  And that was the right approach for me.  During that period, my top priority was to be a mother.

But now my season of fulltime motherhood has ended, and I am resetting my priorities.  Of course, I now could make my husband my top priority.  However, that amount of my attention would drive him up a wall!  So, my current priority is my writing career.

It is the right season to give more attention to my writing.  I have more time these days to think.  I also have a lot of life experience under my belt, and some hard-earned wisdom that I can share!

So, realize that life has its seasons, and you should set your priorities accordingly.  When we are young, we should focus on our education and our careers.  Later on, we might focus on family.  Our priorities naturally evolve as our lives change.

Accept That You Can’t Have It All

There is no such thing as having it all.  Each day has only 24 hours, and we can only accomplish so much during that time.  So, when you focus on your priorities, you need to accept the consequences of that choice.

For example, I could have spent the last 18 years attacking a career.  Would I be further along professionally if I’d made my career my top priority for the last 18 years?  Of course.  But I don’t mind being less far along than I could be.  From my point of view, the last 18 years were for my daughter.  It was my season to be a mother.

So, set your priorities and accept that there will be sacrifices.  If you want to have an amazing career, your social life won’t be as vibrant.  If you want to be an amazing homemaker and cook and decorate at the level of Martha Stewart, then you will have a less high-powered career.

However, it is far better to pick what is truly important to you and do it well, rather than to do a bunch of things in an average manner.  Give the few things that are important to you your full attention and do them to the best of your ability.

Don’t Let Others Choose Your Priorities

It is critical to choose the priorities that are most important to you.  For instance, some people may tell you that pursuing a high-level job should be your priority.  But your desire may be to care for your children or for an elderly parent.  If that is the case, pursue a less demanding career so that you have more free time to care for family members.  In that way, your life will reflect what is most important to you.

And make sure to respect the priorities of others, even if they differ from your own.  For instance, when my husband asked me to marry him, I made very clear that raising my daughter was my top priority.  His response was, “You are a mother.  Of course, your daughter is your top priority.”  My husband had no desire to dictate what my life priorities should be, or how I should spend my time.

By contrast, my husband’s top priority is his career.  And I support him in that!  We don’t have the same priorities.  But we respect and appreciate each other’s priorities, which is far more important.  And we give each other the freedom to do what we each need to do to be happy.

So, follow your heart when setting your priorities.  And allow others to do the same!

When Your Life and Priorities Align, Your Life Flows

When your life reflects what is most important to you, then your life works.  It flows.  Your days have purpose and meaning because you are doing what you are meant to be doing.  Your time isn’t being wasted doing things that don’t matter to you.

For instance, being a housewife will not work for you if pursuing a career is your dream.  If you instead try to run a house and raise children fulltime, but you will be frustrated.  You won’t do the job well because homemaking isn’t important to you.  Your life won’t flow because you will be spending your time doing things that simply don’t matter to you.

When you do what matters most to you, your life feels right.  You feel like your time is being spent on what you truly care about, and your life will reflect your top priorities.

So, to be happy, set your priorities!  Figure out what is most important to you.  And then create a life that focuses on those priorities.  If you do, your life will flow, and you will be so much happier.


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