By world standards, Americans lead busy lives? Why? Some believe unknowingly, yet with good intentions, we have jumped on the hamster wheel in pursuit of those things we thought would make us happy. How are we doing? By many accounts, not as well as we had hoped. How are we feeling? Most people would answer, “Stressed!” Some people may have achieved a few of their goals but feel exhausted. Others are still struggling to reach a destination but have run out of energy. Has the time come to re-evaluate what you should pursue and find the best path forward?
Frankly, some people expend a lot of energy worrying and trying to influence other people and events, yet never realized they had little ability to influence these areas from the start. These same people are depleted of the energy to focus on those things that bring them fulfillment and which they can affect the outcome. Instead, everything becomes a priority. When people feel pulled in too many directions, typically very little gets accomplished. Frustration and stress can lead to poor health, attitude, and in some cases poor relationships.
One of the first steps towards more successful living is to get clarity on priorities. Priorities are usually reflected in those things we feel most stressed about when they are not meeting our expectations. When I have clients, who feel overwhelmed with too much on their life plate and not knowing where to start, I suggest the following initial step:
- Brainstorm and write a list of all those things you are feeling stressed about and why? [Note: Sometimes self-reflection on the “why” aspect may diminish the stress as you put it in perspective.]
- Categorize each stressor on whether it is a high or low stress in your life. [Note: Use the full scale; force-rank the list if necessary; not everything can be labeled as high.]
- Reflect and categorize each stressor as high or low in your ability to influence its change.
Review the list and identify those items that are both a high stressor and where you have a high degree of influence to change. Those are the stressors or priorities you should focus your time and energy in order to achieve greater peace and satisfaction. This approach can be useful in all areas of life. When you have set your priorities, a coach can help you develop an actionable plan to change your stressors to “successors.”
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement. She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.