Priorities Revisited: The Ideal You

Top priorities

A couple of weeks ago a movement of sharing the now list started. The idea began when Derek Sivers shared his now page. Later, others started sharing their own, and the idea spread.

Looking into other people’s now page—the things they’re focusing on, and working with right now—got me thinking about my own choices.

As I looked into my now actions, I realized that I wasn’t totally aligned with what I thought were my priorities.

I’ve written in the past about the importance of prioritizing and some of the tools that can help. Every now and then a different idea comes up that gets me to look within and examine my choices.

So today I’ll share more thoughts about priorities that I hope can be helpful to you.

Is your now list aligned with your priorities?

Can you make a list of the things you’re working on right now? Are they the most important things to you?

Answering the questions in writing will give you clarity about the things that truly matter, and how you’re using your time and attention.

The first thing is to know what’s important. And the second is to act with your top priorities in mind.

Today we’ll examine priorities again (more resources listed at the end of this article), but from a different angle.

Before we start, give yourself a few moments and write down what you’re actually doing right now. In other words make your now list. Don’t examine the list yet, just do it, and put it aside.

How to clarify priorities: the ideal you

We all go through phases of confusion and doubt. Sometimes we only need to review our previous choices to reboot our focus. Other times we feel lost. In these situations, let’s explore a different way of gaining clarity.

What does your ideal self look like?

If you would describe the best version of yourself, what would you say?

Get quiet and imagine yourself as you hope to be. What does this image tell you?

1. What is your ideal self doing? How do you spend most of your time?

Your answer may be similar to your previous choices, it’s okay. Just keep going. If you’re starting from scratch, imagine the actions that give you a sense of satisfaction and joy.

2. Who are the people you spend time with?

Who are the people you’re connecting with? How do you spend your time together?

Are they the same people you’re currently spending time with?

3. How does your ideal self feel?

A state of being is something that’s beyond actions and people. It’s internal and intimate. And that state of being usually manifests in feelings.

Do you feel confident, calm, at ease, energetic, or excited? Do you feel complete and at peace? Feel with all you’ve got. The feelings will drive your choices. If your answers to actions and relationships don’t trigger a positive empowering feeling, they don’t need to be on your list.

Categorize the ideal

Now that you answered these questions it’s time to refine the answers and group your actions into different areas of life. You can have as many, or as few, categories as you’d like.

What area of life does each action relate to?

Here are a few examples: work/career, wealth and finance, relationships or family and friends, contribution, community, hobbies and interests, health and fitness, spirituality, learning and growth.

The label you use for each category doesn’t matter, as long as you connect with it. It’s simply a house for a group of activities that otherwise might feel scattered.

I suggest you limit your categories to no more than seven. My personal preference is five. They can fit on one hand and can be recalled easily.

Once you decide on the labels you want to use, give each one a brief description of what actions it would house. Now you have a list of your priorities.

My priorities usually revolve around the same things, but in different order. Here is a list of my current priorities, in order of importance.

1. Family: Give my undivided attention and do my best to be there for my family.

2. Wellness: Be at peace with everyone and everything. Optimize my diet and movement. Keep things simple.

3. Work: Have a clear investing strategy, and use it. Simplify financial tasks. Write and share regularly.

4. Personal: Learn, read, and simplify home and belongings.

5. Social & community: Connect with friends on a regular basis, and continue to be part of the local community.

Ideals vs. reality

Look at your now list that you created earlier, and categorize each of your actions according to your top priorities. Where do they fit?

When I did this, I realized that my actions didn’t express my priorities. I was off track. And there were many little things that had nothing to do with what’s important to me—a recipe for overwhelm and confusion.

We can eliminate what’s not important, or at least give it less attention, and choose to refocus on what matters most.

It may seem like a long process. But it’s worth it, if it’s going to give us clarity and peace.

There will be actions that don’t fit into your priorities right now, but you’re not ready to let them go yet. If it helps, create a later list.

Keep the image of the ideal you in mind as you review and revise your lists (now/top priorities and later).

The ideal you is not perfect. It’s the best version of yourself as you see it. It’s the you that feels at peace and complete, with no fears of missing out, and without the need to keep up with others. It’s about you living your truth.

Here are a few articles that might be helpful in clarifying your desires and priorities: