Overcommitting. Overwhelming. Overstimulating. There are a lot of words to describe our tendency to go overboard. When it comes to being effective in our work, relationships, and life, it is evident that the key to success is doing less with greater impact. I know the feeling all too well of wanting to be involved in every club and activity, while also picking up a side project here and adding another social event to my calendar there. What I have discovered, however, is that by defining your priorities you are better equipped to take on what you can handle and perform to your greatest capacity. Here are some questions to ask yourself to uncover your priorities and enable you to make decisions that align with them.
What Do I Want to Be Remembered For?
Fair warning: we’re going to get a bit deep here! I recently watched a Ted Talk about how to have more meaningful conversations, and one of the recommendations was to ask what you want to do before you die. For my achiever oriented brain, I started thinking about lists of accomplishments, but it is more important to examine the type of impact you want to make, or what you want to be remembered for. Take some time to think about how you want to make others feel after interacting with you. Do you want to be the person who was always rushing off to her next appointment without time to connect with her friends OR would you rather be that person who recognized when it was time to put work aside and focus on the people in her life. Once you get to know yourself better on that front, act accordingly. Perhaps put a hard stop time on your work, or set a goal to get together with friends once a week.
What Invigorates Me?
There are things that suck energy out of you, but are still necessities. There are menial parts of your job that you hate, but ultimately lead to the accomplishment of a larger aim. The key is to minimize things that deplete you and maximize what invigorates you. For example, as a blogger I recognize the importance of social media and how dedicating time to it (aka the tedious part) can help to grow my blog (aka the larger goal). However, I am not a huge fan of Facebook and putting effort into using the platform wore me out. Pinterest on the other hand? I’m all over that! So, I decided not to use Facebook for my blog and pour myself into Pinterest. Do you know what happened? Once I got in tune with the platform I really had fun on, I saw huge results because I was connecting with my audience in a more genuine way. This rationale of focusing on what you like and minimizing what you think you SHOULD be doing can apply to every area of your life.
What Will Help Me Grow?
A dear friend of mine gave a talk about how growth happens when you get outside of your comfort zone. Ever since hearing her take on the topic, I have been more open and willing to engage in new situations. Continually challenging yourself to develop in every facet of your life is an uncomfortable process, but a necessary one. We have to prioritize our personal and professional development if we want to see progress. When you are faced with an opportunity that scares you, evaluate if it is a worthwhile way to push yourself. If it is, and will help you become the person you want to be remembered for and will invigorate you as you overcome it, do it!
By uncovering what you value and prioritize, you can make better decisions with your time and be a highly effective person. Reflect on these key questions and see how you can modify what you currently dedicate time to and use it to guide your actions in the future.