In the Charles Dickens classic, "The Christmas Story", Scrooge is given the opportunity to examine his life and his priorities before it is too late. Upon being shown his grave by the ghost of Christmas Future, he asks "Spirit, are these instances of things that will be or are they of things that might be? Is it too late for me?" How long has it been since you have examined your life and its direction? When the day comes that you leave this earth, how will you be remembered?
Have you ever noticed that once people have something life-changing take place in their lives, an illness, death or tragedy, how quickly their priorities change? It is amazing how instantaneously things that were so important yesterday, fail to cross their radar screens today. Why is that? It is simple really. We are instantly reminded of our mortality. For a brief moment, we are forced to stop and really take stock of our lives. Unfortunately for many of us, we don't like what we see.
These experiences cause a momentary shift in our priorities and how we view the things that have meaning in our lives. Having defeating or misplaced priorities is easy. Putting them in the right place is hard and learning how to maintain them in their places is an even greater challenge. I would like to share with you a few of my secrets to create and maintain a life of priorities.
Let me speak from personal experience. I was a very successful business manager that truly believed that my job was my identity. I made certain that no one could question my loyalty and commitment to my job and its results. I unintentionally made certain that my entire family doubted my commitment to them and the family's success. They were in last place when it came to my priorities. There will be plenty of time later to foster the family, I thought. They love me and will wait for me.
I had a list of excuses as to why I needed to be at work. I had an adequate size staff but to hear me tell it, the place would burn down were I not there. So, off to work I went. I needed a priority shift. It wasn't until I found myself in the back of an ambulance on the verge of a stroke and a paramedic standing over me injecting me with drugs to stop my heart, that I took a real survey of my life. Do yourself and those around you a favor; take a hard look at your life and what really matters, while you can.
I have always I had the best of intentions, just not the best planning. Many very accomplished people have said that ideas don't fail, plans fail. I think we can relate this to our lives as well. It's not that we are failures in our lives, our planning or priorities are misplaced. We need to plan out our priorities and set a purposeful course for our lives.Along with our own priorities, we must also recognize and respect the priorities of our spouse and those around us. We are not living on a deserted island. Do not try to impose your priorities onto others. It is always best to try to work closely others and with your family on family priorities. Either in a professional or personal environment, everyone has their own priorities. Unfortunately, as hard as we try, we can impose our priorities on others. From the board room to the dining room everyone has priorities.
Why do corporations spend money on corporate retreats, team building consultants and mentoring programs? They are trying to impart the company objectives to their employees to share a common vision. They are looking for ways to align their employee's priorities to those in their company mission statement. This also holds true in our personal lives. Let me explain.
A monumental point in my marriage came when my wife and I decided that the top three priorities in our life needed to be common. It seemed that all of our marital issues came back to a lack of common priorities. The priorities all seemed to be the same but differed in their order. My decisions were based upon my top priority which differed from that of my wife. I am not advocating changing your priorities to accommodate your spouses, but I believe that it is critical that you have the same top three priorities and in the same order. Once these are discussed and committed to, you must give each other permission to hold the other accountable for decisions that affect those priorities.
Having discussed and worked through our priorities, we are now better able to communicate and can recognize the value of working together to maintain our priorities. Keeping those priorities in mind when we make decisions, either together or independently has led to a more purposeful life.
A teamwork approach allows for a stronger effort toward priority accountability. This type of accountability is not demanding, but respectful. As I said earlier, my wife and I have given each other permission to respectfully remind each other of the times we fall short. Don't forget to praise each other when you succeed. Be respectful instead of confrontational and encourage each other to greater levels of fulfillment in your lives.
Our individual and family lives revolve around our priorities. In fact everything in our lives is touched by our priorities. Taking ownership of your priorities will allow you to take ownership of your life today and for years to come.
The true beauty of these principles is that they are seamlessly transferable from the bedroom to the boardroom. Everyone has priorities and have a dream for their lives. We all have them; are you living yours?
Copyright Anthony Mullins
Elite Coaching Alliance 2005
Anthony Mullins is the President and Life Coach for The Elite Coaching Alliance. He specializes in marriage, relationship and family,christian based coaching. He is the author of the upcoming book "Your Extreme Life Makeover".