Where are your priorities?

It seems pretty simple: that which you value the most should be the top of your priority list. It should be number one in your schedule, and come first above all else.

Makes sense.

So why is it so difficult to put into practice?

Take the little exercise I was asked to undertake yesterday: write down all your priorities in life, then number them from most important to least. Sure thing! I thought.

This is what my list looked like:

  1. my family
  2. my health
  3. connection with myself and others for a greater purpose
  4. success and satisfaction from my career
  5. financial abundance

Not bad. If not a little surprising.

Truth be told, I would have thought career and money would come up higher on the list than that. But when it was time to actually write down what is most important to me, and in which order, it was obvious: of course my family comes first. Of course my health – meaning physical, mental and spiritual health – comes second.  But a connection with others above financial abundance? Now that was an eye-opener. Surprising, but true. I would rather have a deep connection with the women I write about and for than a million dollar book deal and no real purpose.

It was the next part of the process, however, that really made me think.

We were then told look at how we scheduled our time, energy and focus – and compare that to our priorities. Hello light-bulb moment!

The very first thing my husband and I do is schedule in work. As does 99.9% of the country. It’s the biggest consumer of our lives, and we assume it’s a non-negotiable – because it leads to the other item on our priority list: financial abundance.

Work and money. It takes up the majority of our lives, but is the lowest on my priority list. And – here was the big wake up call – we were squeezing that which we value the most (family, health, connection) in somewhere in between.

We had it all the wrong way around.

So how do you make your family a priority when modern-day life demands you spend the majority of your waking hours focusing on paid work?

You ‘pay’ yourself first.

If you’ve ever read a budgeting book or gone to a money workshop, you’d know that one of the big lessons in getting out of debt is to pay yourself first. Even when you are drowning in credit card overdrafts. Start by taking a good hard look at your reality, figure out what needs to be done to get to a better place financially, and then work out a budget – with the first step of that budget being to PAY YOURSELF FIRST.

Well, I figure it’s no different in the rest of your life.

Why don’t we ‘pay’ ourselves the time and energy we need first, before the rest of the ‘budget’ is worked out?

You have to work, the kids have to go to school, the mortgage has to be paid – that stuff is a given. When you look at your weekly schedule though, why not put in your yoga class, your family outing to bond with your kids, and your meditation practice before the rest of the ‘debt’.

For example:

  • Try setting the alarm a simple 5 minutes earlier and before the rest of the house wakes to focus on your intentions for the day, and clear your head.
  • Committing to a family activity every week, and making it a non-negotiable. Perhaps its going out for brunch then the park on a Sunday, or Friday night feasts with a family board-game.
  • Work out a schedule for you and your partner to get the exercise and ‘me’ time you need. Take it in turns to get to yoga or the gym by putting it into both of your calendars and scheduling it.
  • Once a month, hit the road as a family. Wipe out a day – or two! – on your calendars to go to the zoo, take a drive down the coast, spend the night camping. Pre-plan and pre-book it, otherwise it never happens!

By ‘paying’ ourselves first, and shifting our focus away from work and back onto our highest priorities, we can begin to feel a greater balance in our lives.

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz

Amy Taylor-Kabbaz is a journalist with more than 15 years' experience, specialising in health, mindfulness and motherhood. She is also the best-selling author of Happy Mama: The Guide to Finding Yourself Again, and is the creator of the website Happy Mama.

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