What Matters Most
By Dr. Peggy Marshall
“We never know the worth of water until the well is dry”
I was talking with a friend today who has survived five bouts of cancer (more on that in my September blog). We were talking about how priorities change when one is faced with life changing circumstances. He related a story about a woman who when she found out she had cancer quit her job because her job was making her sick. Our conversation made me think about Cheryl Richardson’s book, “Take Time for Your Life”. (www.cherylrichardson.com) She believes that people face seven common obstacles that seem to prevent them from living their best life. The list includes; difficulty putting self first, a schedule that does not reflect priorities, feeling drained by people or situations, living on adrenalin, lack of a support community, and putting their spiritual well-being last.
Do any items on this list ring true for you. All of the items on the list speak to our setting boundaries-something we are not taught and something that can be very difficult to learn. A good first step is to make a list of what you are passionate about-what’s important to you-what you value most. Your list might include: family, career, adventure, love, fun, faith, integrity, and learning. What are your top 5? From your values, determine what you believe to be your purpose. Your purpose might be to be best parent, make a difference in some area of life, or provide the best of something to a given population. I am asking you to reflect on your values and purpose because without clarity about these two areas of your life, it’s hard to set priorities and boundaries. And….we often do not take the time to reflect on what matters most to us.
Going back to the original seven obstacles who and what are draining your energy? Do you find yourself trying to do more and more-feeling like you are accomplishing less? Many of us work in corporate cultures which require us to deliver more with less. We often interpret this situation with having to work longer. I suggest that we need to work smarter. One of my clients, after writing her mission and purpose, discovered that she was over-balanced in time in her career versus her family. She decided that she was going to turn off her Blackberry and computer from 6:30 PM -6:30 AM. She was concerned that people would think she was slacking. She was amazed how supportive her team was of her decision-even reminding her of her commitment when she was working past 6:30. Her success is clearly related to setting boundaries-saying yes to things that matter most and no or delegating what doesn’t. And she is a completely different person today.
Once you know what’s most important, you can use the same process to decide if future requests for your time are a match for what you value. You might be asked to join committees, participate in planning programs, or provide energy to groups and organizations that are really not a match for your mission. It is so much easier to set boundaries when you know whether something is a match for your mission as you have a clear decision point that determines your choices.
Over the next month, think about your mission and your purpose. You might want to go back to the Life Wheel exercise discussed in the July blog to see where you are out of balance. This will help you with your priorities and help you think through changes you might want to make in your life. I say this often –I believe that one of the greatest things about life is that it is ours to craft. I love that we have the power to make the changes that will make our life soar!
To Your Success!