Priorities

If you really want to know someone, don’t look at their words, look at their priorities.

If you really want to know yourself, don’t look at your words, look at your priorities.

Our priorities — where we actually allocate our limited resources of time, money, energy, focus, passion — reveal what we really value.

We all have long lists of things we want to do, things we should do, things we would like to do, things that would be nice to do, things that we believe in, things that we should believe in, things that would make us popular, things that would make us successful, things that would be good for our family or community, good ideas, good plans, good things.

Our lists are so long that they tell us very little about who we really are.   It’s only when we put our money where our mouth is, when we allocate the limited resources we have, that we know what we really value.

The most common challenge for any life coach is someone who has lots of dreams but little focus, little momentum.   The challenge is to turn talk into action, to move from excuses to solutions.

Most of us set our priorities in a less than conscious way.   Becoming conscious about the priorities people actually set is becoming aware of real, deep, potent motivations, cutting through the wall of words to discover the truth beneath.

Are our choices made out of fear, out of outdated expectations, out of habit, out of prejudice, out of inertia, out of denial or deflection?   We can’t know that until we know what our choices really are, and our choices are always about the priorities we make in allocating limited resources.

We may be spirit living a human life, yes, but living a human life we are.  That humanity means that making a choice for something is always making a choice against something, that we are always working in a finite world where we have to let something go if we want to pick up something else.

“Can you really be happy if you have to let your dreams go?” ShamanGal asked me.  We never really let dreams go, we just let them slide down the priority list, knowing that we value something else more than that particular dream.   Dreams are just that, dreams, and dreams never really make us happy.   Dreams, unless they motivate us to change our priorities, are just distractions from the world, a kind of fantasy.

My sister has always held high aspirations for supporting me, but her priorities mean that she rarely has the time, energy, focus or mindspace to act on those aspirations.   I have had to come to the understanding that while she is loving and means well, she probably won’t come through.  Her friend knows that her focus is very short, and when something is out of sight, it is also out of mind.   Her priorities are shaped by short-term expediency rather than any deeper understanding.  Having my financial future at her mercy leaves me battered.   Having fewer resources makes setting priorities much harder, as you tend to scrimp, making no choices.

Priorities are always about making choices and making choices is almost always about compromise, balance and bargaining.  We can’t choose between taking care of others and taking care of ourselves, for example.  We have to find a way we can do both, setting priorities that meet both needs in part while not completely fulfilling either.

In the end, it is what we shop for, what we save for, what we trade for that shows what we really value beyond the wall of words we put up about what we think we want, what we think we should want.

If you really want to know someone, don’t look at their words, look at their priorities.

If you really want to know yourself, don’t look at your words, look at your priorities.

What do you value enough to make a priority in your life?