The idea of priorities have come up a number of times over the past week so I feel compelled to talk through the concept as I see it. Our priorities are what set our intention and purpose in our lives; or so they should. We decide what is important to us and then act upon those priorities. If it were only that easy it would not be a topic worth discussing but that it is not that easy makes it worthy of going on…and so I do.
The first thing we can can agree upon is that we will not agree on each others priorities. Those things that are important to me are likely not important to you. As family, friends or coworkers we may share some priorities but disagree on others and hence the debate about priorities. As we set out priorities we have to be unapologetic and own those things that are important to us regardless of how others value those same things. The issue here is that all priorities are not created equal. In my life I set those things as priority that revolve around family, health and finance. This means that my life revolves around these things as I see them as most important and therefore will decide how I navigate all other things as secondary to these three priorities.
This is where the topic turns, as this is where it can get dicey. We question each others priorities when they don’t match our own and worse when they get in the way of ours. This is where respect is key. If we respect each other then we respect each others priorities regardless of their importance to us. It means that when you make a decision to choose one thing over another that I don’t judge, I respect your choices and you mine. This is easiest when those decisions serve us and hardest when they don’t. When you don’t do what I want you to do because of what you deem as priority, the struggle is on.
Examples of how I navigate these and the hardships I face are as noted:
- Family – my tribe. I am loyal to a fault to my family and friends. Once I “claim” you I will go to the ends of the earth for you. But will you do the same for me? That question is one that requires an exercise in compromise. This is where I have to be forgiving when your priorities do not match mine as part of my love for you is that you have priorities that you will not relent on and how I fit in that equation is mine to resolve. It does not always work out the way I want but nor will my priorities fit in with yours and I hope you will offer the same forgiveness.
- Health – my life. I have made huge compromises in my life to be healthy and therefore it is a huge priority for me. I put it first and make room for it in my life. Making room sometimes means that I choose one thing over another for the sake of keeping my priorities. Choosing chicken over a burger is not one of those that may affect another but choosing to pass on going out for drinks or a late-night dinner may. I don’t drink and I prioritize 8 hours of sleep therefore I don’t do late nights any longer. This means when asked I will bow out of most of these situations for the sake of getting a good nights sleep. It is never personal except to me that knows what I need to function in this world optimally.
- Finance – my career. I love what I do and I will do it for as long as can. It is about my passion for hospitality but also my love of financial independence. My life is lived easier feeling compelled and enthusiastic to get out of bed in the morning to go to a job I love with people I respect. The benefit of this passion is that through it I enjoy financial independence. I am able to live the life I want on my own accord and that matters to me.
All three of these priorities mean that I make sacrifices in my life and at times in the life of others to align my priorities with the asks of me in others lives.
The thing with priorities is that they are ours and don’t always “make sense” to others. My priorities have been tested along the way and that is how I have been able to cement what is important to me; those things I simply was not willing to relent on I knew were my life’s priorities. When you are attached to your priorities you are unapologetic and do not feel the need to defend. I think it is interesting when I see others questioning others priorities, in a couple of ways…
- First the idea that we would question each others priorities is interesting in itself. We question what we don’t value but more importantly we question what doesn’t seem to have value to others. Checking priorities is an exercise for all.
- Second the idea that you have to defend your priorities is a choice. I don’t defend what is important to me as I don’t see it as a debate. If asked I may explain why it is a priority for me but I will not defend what is not a fight for me. My priorities do not need to be yours and with that I am unapologetic.
- Last, the integrity in our lives is tested through our priorities. I set them, I defend them but do I live them 100% of the time? This is where the debate can ensue. If I say “no” to you but then “yes” to another it brings into question the importance of that which I am willing to sacrifice my priorities.
Our priorities change over time as the seasons of our lives determine what is important. The fact that you have priorities is key, it is indeed about intention and living a life of purpose. You get to decide what those priorities are but you also have to be willing to live with those decisions. When others decide that your priorities are too far from their own they may move on. If you are willing to live with those consequences then you know you are aligned in your own life. This is a weighty decision and one that can find ourselves reevaluating our own priorities.
In the end or better yet at the beginning of setting those guardrails in your life ask yourself, “Is it really that important?” and “What and who am I willing to give-up?”. In the end, and at the beginning, you decide. L.