#106: How to Set Priorities for Your Time
Welcome to the Mindset for Life podcast. This is Bethanie, your coach from Dr. B coach.com. Coaching with power, purpose and practical tools to help you show up with confidence.
We’re gonna talk about a mindset to set priorities around your time.
What if there were these road signs in your life? Like you’re driving around and you see a stop sign or a green light. What if in your life, these signs just sort of popped up in the corner of your view? What if you could just see exactly what the right choices were? And you didn’t have to think so much about it? Wouldn’t that be amazing.
And of course, that’s not going to happen, because life doesn’t work that way. In fact, if we had signs popping up all the time, telling us exactly what priorities to set, and how to manage our time, it would drive us crazy. Most of us would be super frustrated that we didn’t have any choices at all. And of course, life is all about choices.
Choices about what we do with our time, who we spend our time with, what we make important to us in our lives, and about the priorities we decide are most important for us. Well, I have news for you today. What you are spending your time on right now in your life in this season tells the whole world including you what your true priorities are.
That’s right, whatever you are spending all of your time doing, that tells us what your priorities might be.
I used to think that I was just too busy all the time, I would be studying, reading, doing some kind of learning activity. And I would also be doing something like working full time, maybe I was taking care of my family trying to raise my kids. Pretending and trying very hard to have a clean house, but failing miserably. And telling the story that I just didn’t have enough time for all of this. And I could never quite measure up.
In fact, I think I lived in sort of this fight or flight constant state of overwhelm, thinking, I couldn’t control all these things in my life, because they were all important. I needed to do all of these things.
Fast forward several years, many years, and I’m a lot older, and I have a lot more life experience. But I’ve learned a lot too. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about when I think about my priorities. So when I think about the way I spend my time, and I decide what I want to do with my time, if I look over the day, I can honestly say what my priorities are. If I want to sit and watch YouTube videos all day long, then leisure and loafing and relaxing and watching crazy stuff, that’s going to be my priority.
But if I want to get up really early, and I go for a walk, do a little bit of stretching, take care of my physical exercise first, and then I get the dishes done. And then I run upstairs and do some of my work, make a few phone calls, connect with some people, and take care of my dog. And also spend time with my husband on the phone at lunchtime. All those things tell me that I have a lot of priorities. But I’m gonna do them in a way that helps me to touch those people that matter. Have that face time that I care so much about as an extroverted person. I’m also I’m going to break it up.
So I have a lot of energy and I can really manage my energy. One of the best things I could possibly do for myself is to exercise or walk first thing in the morning. Then get it done so I can check that box. But also it sets the tone for my whole day gives me a ton of energy makes me feel amazing.
What are your top priorities?
What you think about how you want to get up in the morning? What do you want those first 15 or 20 minutes to look like for you? Do you want to relax and leisurely get up out of the bed and calmly kind of ease into the day? Or do you want to leap out of bed and have your guns blazing (metaphorically speaking) and jump into action and be super energetic? Attack the day like you have all sorts of energy?
Whatever you choose, whatever method you choose to start the day, that is one of your priorities.
And another priority would be whether you plan things before starting them or whether you just jump right into them. Today I was talking to a most wonderful human being that I’ve known for a while now. And this person was telling me what they were up to. They were sharing all kinds of trips they were going on and business endeavors they were doing. And this person wanted to know how they could set more limits, how they could figure out what to say no to.
And when we were talking, it kind of became clear. Well, what we’re spending our time on, that is our top priority. So even if it feels like someone else is making all the choices, or you have to take advantage of all these opportunities, the truth is what we choose to do with our time and where we choose to put our best effort is our priority.
What do you want your priorities to be?
What do you want to look back on a year or two from now, and be able to say for yourself? 10 years from now, maybe 20? At the end of your life?
What do you want to look back on and be able to say, That’s what I was all about? That’s what I cared most about? And you could tell by the way I spent my time?
If you truly value something, if it’s important to you, you will spend some time on it every single day. That’s right. If you never get to that one thing that you say you care about, or that you believe that you care about, chances are it’s not a priority for you.
Once you line up what you really care about, you kind of figure it out, decide what your top priorities should be for you to be happy. And by the way, when I use the word “should” on that, I’m kind of using it lightly. It’s self imposed, we choose what we need to have as our top priorities. So if you’re saying I “should” do this, what you’re really saying is, that’s what I want to do.
That’s what I feel to do. But for some reason, I’m not doing it, I’m doing something else. Whatever it is you should do to put your priorities at the top.
Think about the road ahead, and what your focus really is. What are you trying to achieve? What are you running after? And what makes you happy? What is most important to you? Now, what’s important to you about those things you’re doing right now in your life?
Now, once you’ve been able to answer those questions, your mindset gets focused on designing your time around those things you care most about. Because time is so limited, you cannot waste it, and you cannot work 25/8, instead of 24/7, you just can’t.
So we’re gonna have to find the courage to disappoint a few people, we have to follow through on those things that are your top priorities, but also make choices. And that’s where we end up doing that disappointing that I mentioned. Other people will decide for us what our priorities are. Maybe it’s our mother, maybe it’s our friends, our spouse, our co workers, our manager, our neighbors, our children.
All of these people want us to be a certain way. And maybe it is part of who we really are. But we cannot just live bouncing from expectation the expectation that other people have. I’ll share one with you that’s kind of on my mind. From my past long ago, when I went to college, I had to go away from home.
It was a long ways away from my home. And I hadn’t really lived that far away from the great state that I was born in. So that was a new experience. And when I got there, for the first time in my life, I felt totally free of other people’s expectations. I did not grow up in the time where there were cell phones and computers everywhere. No, the only way I was going to hear from people at home was if they called me on the telephone or sent me a letter.
And I wrote a lot of letters. I got letters in the mail constantly. And I wrote letters all the time. It’s quite a letter writer.
So when I was growing up, other people’s expectations were constantly expressed. Oh, we really hope you’re going to do this. Oh, we can’t wait for you to do that. For some reason, a lot of people who knew me expected me to go to college. And many of them expected me to become a band teacher. In fact, when I actually did become one many years later, lots of these people told me, Yep, you were always going to be a band teacher, you told us that. We are not surprised.
But when I went to college, I thought, I’m going to choose what I really want to do. And I’m not going to let everyone else’s expectations set my priorities for me. I could choose whether to sleep in or get up early. I could choose whether to exercise or not. I could choose whether to go to church or not. And I could choose what I was going to do for my college degree for the rest of my life for my career and all of those things.
And of course I did end up choosing, after several degree changes and lots of elective classes. I did choose to become a music, major music education. And with my 180 credits, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and became a music teacher. But it was nice to have that space to decide what my priorities would be.
What about you? Have you had those experiences where you really think you’re living by everyone else’s priorities for your life? You feel tossed around by priority after priority or emergency after emergency, whatever it might be? How can you grab the reins and start looking at what matters most to you?
Maybe it’s actually the things you’re really doing. But maybe it’s not. Whatever it is, if you can start looking at it a little more objectively and intentionally and start realizing what does make you happy, what you really do want to achieve what is most important to you, some of that other stuff is just going to fall out of your life, it’s just going to fade away.
And if it is a priority and needs to be done, you’ll find a way to fit it in, and then it’ll leave you. So as you’re thinking about the road ahead, your focus for what you’re trying to achieve, and what makes you happy and what is most important to you, and you’re designing your life around those things.
Let’s think of a second list that we should be making. And that is the list of things you’re going to ignore. That’s right. What are you willing to not achieve in life, or professionally or personally, so that you can achieve those things you do care about? If you’re going to set priorities for your time, and intentionally reach your goals and become the person you want to be long term, be the best version of yourself, you’re going to have to have an ignore list. And be willing to not achieve certain things.
What does not make you happy? What is not really that important to you, and what gets in the way? If you can make this list and the other one where your priorities really are, and review these every day, and put some things on your calendar to make sure you hit your goals, you will have a plan for your day. And even if something comes along that tempts you or interrupts it, you’ll know what you should say in response. And you’ll know what you want to say. And you’ll have the courage to say it.
Whatever that is, your awareness of your true priorities will become a mindset that helps you set priorities for your time. And say no to those things that will distract you from achieving what you really want to do in this lifetime and in your professional life. And you’ll get the strength to say yes to the things that might be a little bit intimidating, might be a little scary at first, but really are what you want to go after and want to achieve.
Now, in the end, you have gifts, talents and abilities to contribute, and you have all kinds of contributions to make in this lifetime. Whether you have discovered what they are or not. Setting your priorities and determining how you’re going to use your time will give you the space to figure all of that out and be the best version of you and truly find the best sense of happiness over time. Now I don’t think you have to achieve some certain goal to be happy. In the end, happiness is a way of living, not an end goal.
Be thinking about the road ahead, what you would like to invite more of into your life, what you would like to weed out as you focus on your true priorities and develop a real mindset for that and boundaries around your time. In the future. We’ll be talking about how to say no and set your limits to give you some confidence taking the steps you really want to reach your goals and keep going towards the best version of you. So come back in future weeks. I look forward to talking more about you being the best version of you and setting your mindset
accordingly. Take care, have a great week ahead.
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New Day, performed by Danny Gokey, (P) 2021 Danny Gokey, under exclusive license to Capitol Christian Music Group, Inc., was written by Ethan Hulse, Coby Wedgeworth, and Danny Gokey. Copyright © 2019 Better Than I Found It (BMI) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) All rights reserved. Used by permission; and EGH Music Publishing (BMI) / Be Essential Songs (BMI) / Colby Wedgeworth Music (ASCAP) / Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP) / (admin at EssentialMusicPublishing.com). All rights reserved. Used by permission.