Attitude and Priorities
Have you ever heard someone say “I just have too much to do; I am overwhelmed.”? They complain about how hard life is or have a negative attitude.
One of the reasons people get overwhelmed which can lead to a negative or downtrodden attitude is that they have not established any clear priorities that are meaningful and that will help them get through life. Most people have as their priority (typically unspoken) “Make my life easy and give me comfort.” So, when they have the opportunity, they do just that, sit back and get comfortable. They escape in front of the TV, movies or Internet (or whatever) and justify their escaping because their life is so hectic. They do nothing to make their life less hectic.
The reason most people’s life is hectic is lack of clear priorities and their willingness to stick to those priorities. Let me clarify. Most people operate in the urgent mode; they do whatever is urgent, has to be done, for the day. They never qualify is this is an important activity or does it help them achieve some long term goals. Instead they just run around like a one-armed paper hanger and become frazzled, worn out and feel used. That is where a negative attitude develops. Many people begin to feel used by others.
Is it You?
The real problem lies within you, not others using you. Without clear priorities, you will run around completing everyone else’s agenda because you don’t have one of your one. Or your agenda does not go beyond the day or the week. It is about activity, not substance. There is no qualification as to the benefit of the activity related to developing character, ethics, quality of life, etc.
Having priorities does several things:
1) Priorities are a filter, a guide in helping you organize your day, week, month, year
2) With clear priorities, they enable you to say “No” to things that don’t enable, enrich or enhance your achievement of your priorities.
3) Priorities protect your family, your work schedule, your sleep, etc.
4) Having priorities allows you to have “down time” without feeling guilty.
I will further explain this one. With clear priorities, you can judge how much time and where you need to be spending your time. With clear priorities, you can see where you need to be working, serving others, resting, etc. Priorities enable you to judge the value of an activity, not just the time it takes to get the activity done. You are now empowered to look at an activity and say “That activity does not fit within my priorities, I will use this free time to relax, refresh or further work on my other priorities.”
Too many times, people take up an extra project or agree to do something because they have free time. That activity does nothing to advance their priorities but just fills time. Many people see only the moment and don’t ask “With this free time could I be working on myself to make a better spouse, work on my career skills to be a better employee, develop a better relationship with my family, etc.?” Instead they just go to the next thing to do. Are you one of those people?
When you don’t have clear priorities that are WRITTEN down, you will just jump at anything and justify what you do by saying “Look at how I am helping another person or look how busy I am.” What you have missed is that you had other issues or areas you should be addressing such as your health, marriage, children, family, money management, etc. but, since you did not have these written down, you just jump at the next urgent thing that comes your way.
This type of “jumping to the next thing” is a huge positive attitude killer. A person becomes worn out.
Here is a key in establishing priorities. First you must have a personal mission for your life. What do you want to do, be, go, accomplish, be remembered for, etc. What drives you? As Steven Covey says you can’t prioritize activities “before you know how they relate to your sense of personal mission and how they fit into the balance of your life.” This is ineffective and will cause frustration. If you prioritize before you know what is truly important, what gives you lasting meaning and direction, “You may be prioritizing and accomplishing things you don’t want or need to be doing.” (Covey)
Mission Based Upon Eternal Principles
Your mission and priorities should be based upon principles that are eternal truths, not some whim or yours or another person. Your principles should be based on eternal truths, not the relativistic thought of the day.
Based upon solid principles, your priorities should do more for preventing crisis than just prioritizing crisis. If you only prioritize without a true mission, you just have prioritized crisis, you are not truly prioritizing your life.
Success in One Area Does Not Compensate
Success in one area of life can’t compensate for a failure in another area of life. For instance, having work as a priority does not compensate for a failed marriage, alienated kids, poor health, etc. Another example is a hobby.; being great in a hobby does not compensate for not taking care of your neighbor. Knowing all the football stats does not compensate for not spending time with your kids.
Are your priorities warped?
Having warped priorities leads to problems. Typically, if you have warped priorities, when these priorities are challenged, you will get angry. When others want to interfere with your sacred priority, you will let the relationship slide to protect that “priority.” Guys, does your wife complain about too much football, hunting, fishing, or golf? Wives, does your husband complain about always being on the phone? Wives are you too busy with the kids to have time with your husband? Are you overwhelmed with kids? Husbands, step in and help with the kids for relationship is the priority. (Wives, let them help and let them do it their way and don’t force your way.)
Write down your priorities and review them weekly, if not the beginning of each day. Orient your activities around your priorities versus around someone else’s agenda (your kids, spouses, schools, churches, etc.) All those things are good when done in the proper priority. Your life should not be spent chasing one crisis after another, running headlong into a frazzle. If it is, you have your priorities mixed up or no priorities. Too many families and marriages disintegrate over the children’s sports. The whole family operates on the coach’s schedule abandoning any relationship building time. This also teaches the children that activity is more important than relationship. It teaches them that they are the center of the family, not the marriage or the family as a whole.
As you implement new priorities, the kids may complain that they are not getting to do “their things.” If your kids complain about saying “No” to one of your marriage or family building priorities, they will get over it. In the long run, they will appreciate it. Priorities have a “future” focus, not a “now” focus.
1) Talk with your spouse about your marriage priorities
2) Talk with your spouse about family relationship priorities
3) Discuss work, health, leisure priorities
4) Write them down and post them where all can see
Our family activities are based upon these priorities in this order:
1) God first – in worship and in relationship
2) Health – good health enhances the rest
3) Marriage – build the marriage, everyone is happier with a good marriage
4) Family – time together, time supporting one another in an event, time serving together, time laughing together and praying together
5) Work – gotta pay the bills and also work is an opportunity to help others
6) Others – in service, friendships
7) Wealth management, things, lifestyle, etc.
Proper Priorities enable a positive attitude.