Purposeful Prioritization – Say that Quickly Three Times!

It’s that time of year again – who can believe it? It’s time to make plans for the New Year. With all good intentions, we can sometimes get carried away with goal setting, right? We can. In thinking through what we hope to accomplish in this coming year, it’s important that our top goals are aligned with our priorities. We’ll have a greater likelihood of achieving them if there’s a link to the things that matter most. Let’s ponder at a few “P’s” to help us reach our goals this year:

Priorities: Start with a clear focus on what’s most important to you. For each of your top priorities, identify one or two goals that you’d really like to achieve in the coming year.  If it’s tough to identify your priorities, then ask yourself a few questions: What makes you smile? Cry – or at least want to? What are your biggest barriers? What keeps you up at night? When you have time alone, what do you do? What are you dwelling on? How do you spend most of your time? Answers to these questions can help you determine your top priorities. 

Praise: Start each day by taking a few minutes to identify something for which you are thankful. If nothing comes to mind, then take time to find something to be thankful for. Even if it’s a song on the radio. Perhaps a chirping bird. Maybe for you, it’s the smell of coffee wafting through the house. Starting each day with gratitude helps to ensure the right mindset to achieve our goals. Another benefit of gratitude is that it grounds us in the present as opposed to dwelling on the future and the “what if’s.” Anxiety comes from focusing on the future. When we find ourselves anxious, pause and express gratitude for something. Anything. Think of four or five things, however small, for which we’re grateful — and yes, dark chocolate sea salt caramels count! They most definitely count! Thinking of these things will help to shift our mindset.

Perspective: It’s also important to remember the BIG picture – as in don’t get stuck in the little stuff. And let’s face it, it’s often the small things. Don’t get so side-tracked on little details that they derail your goals.

Purposeful: Be intentional. With our time. Our thoughts. Our words. Our expectations of ourselves and others. “No” is a complete sentence – don’t get caught in the trap of feeling obligated to say “yes” to every request. Don’t let your mind get trapped in a cycle of self-criticism; catch yourself and start to focus on something you’re thankful for. Once you’ve practiced this exercise enough times, this will help to break that cycle.

Positive: We don’t realize how much negativity we hold onto. Too often, we allow people who have wronged us or an unpleasant situation to dwell in our mind. We allow negative thoughts and feelings to camp out in our head. Negative thoughts and bad days are a part of life, but if we’re intentional and can capture them, they don’t have to ruin our attitudes. We can view them through the lens of bad moments instead of bad days. Let’s develop a habit of making our ‘self-talk’ indistinguishable from the way we talk with our friends. We can’t complain and be thankful at the same time nor can we be bitter and pleasant. And it’s easier to accomplish our goals with a positive mindset.

Plow ahead: Don’t let roadblocks deter you. When you run up against one, figure out why you’re there and how you got there. Then get back up, assess what you’ve learned, and put that smile back on your face. And keep moving forward.

Physicality: We’re not talking about marathon-worthy fitness, although that’s great. We’re saying get some exercise and try to eat healthy. Take some time for yourself in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Being healthy improves our self-esteem and self-image.

Making sure our goals align with our priorities will help us to stay the course. Jim Rohn said, “If it’s a priority you’ll find a way. If it isn’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Let’s find our way in 2022.