How to take back control of your priorities

TakeBackControl.jpg

How to take back

control of your priorities

For years Simon had wanted to start his own photography business. He’d thought long and hard about it whilst working at his day job. He’d talked to different people, bought some shiny new equipment, even set up his website.

That was several years ago. Now the website was metaphorically gathering dust. Whilst Simon did on occasions go out and take photos, nothing much had changed since that initial spurt of inspiration which drove him to come up with a name and launch his website...all within a couple of months.

He’d since got married, started a new job but he still talked about his idea with his wife and friends from time to time, still harbouring ideas of getting it going properly one day.

Not your priority

There are many people like Simon out there. You might be one of them. A key issue as to why he never really moved forwards as fast as he’d like was that it was never a true priority. Simon thought it was, as he still talked about it and even called himself a photographer. But the reality was very different to what was in his head.

If that’s you, let me confirm something. You are normal. It happens to many of us. I’ve noticed in coaching sessions with my clients and I know from my own behaviour, that we say we want one thing but our life–the reality of where we spend our time–suggests another. We don’t want what we think we want, or not nearly badly enough.

Whilst this might be normal and common, it is not very effective if at some level you do actually want to achieve your goal.

What do you believe?

Let’s look at this a bit more as it’s not simply about priorities. It’s also indicates what you value. If the goal you want to achieve aligns with your values and beliefs, you are far more likely to succeed.

In a coaching situation with the fictitious Simon, I would be wanting to find out what his beliefs were about setting up his own business. How important it was to him and why. If his motivation came from his parents, perhaps they said he wasn’t cut out to run his own business, then he could be doing it to try and prove them wrong. But if he actually believed them–that he wasn’t good enough and wouldn’t succeed–despite taking actions to get things going, he would be fighting against himself. A bit like wading through treacle. You can do it, but you have a lot of resistance holding you back.

Change your mindset, change your priority

If Simon could change his mindset to really believe he can be a success, this would mean he is no longer fighting himself. He would give his all to the actions he takes rather than doing it half-heartedly. It would become a priority for him.

So how can you move forwards? Firstly, it’s a good idea to assess where your priorities actually are. This will show you what you really value and you can do this by assessing your time in an average week or month.

Where does your time go?

When working with clients who are struggling to make time to get things done I often point out one reality nobody can argue with. There are 168 hours in every week. No, really. It’s the same for you as it is for me. It will (most probably!) never change. So the real question is, what are you doing with your 168 hours? Where does your time go?

I guarantee that your time will go wherever your priorities are, and your priorities will be what you value most. That’s why it’s important to assess your time so you can make the necessary adjustments to match your desired priorities.

Here’s a simple exercise you can do to assess your time. Note down everything you do in a typical week. You can take the obligatory activities such as sleeping, eating, household chores, working. If you’re employed this will be easier, but I suggest you break it down further if you are self-employed to see where your time goes. When I do this I stick to half hour blocks, but feel free to do what works for you.

And you have to be honest with yourself. It’s so easy to have a false view of what you do each day. Just think to how many people say ‘I don’t watch much TV’. Then with a little questioning they seem to know a lot about the latest programmes! Yes, Netflix, Amazon Prime and iPlayer are TV! Doesn’t matter that it’s on your laptop.

We all do it. The key is as mentioned to be really honest with yourself. It’s a pointless exercise without honesty.

What are your priorities?

Once you’ve done that and seen where your real priorities are, now you are in a position to change them. To start the process there’s a wonderful tool called the Clarity Wheel that you can download for FREE tool and use to set your priorities, and then the goals you want to achieve off the back of them. Download here and you’ll also be emailed some free tips on how to use it effectively.

Let me know how you get on.