According to sociologists, one of the most important factors leading to success is a certain mental attitude, called “long-term perspective.” Successful people make their decisions after taking into account what the future brings along with that decision.
The longer people take to plan something or act in a certain direction, the more likely they will lead a better life in the future.
For example, medical doctors are appreciated and respected worldwide, reaching success due to their long-term investment in study and work. After college, residency and a lot of practice, it may take a doctor up to 30 years to reach a high standard of living. But from that point on, they become some of the most respected and successful people, just because they had a long-term perspective.
The key to success in setting priorities is long-term perspective. You can realize how important something is in the present moment by measuring its potential impact on your life in the future.
For example, if you get home from work and choose to play with your children or spend time with your partner, instead of watching TV, you have a long-term perspective. It means you know that if you invest time in your family’s health and happiness, you are in fact making a valuable choice about spending time wisely.
If you also attend evening classes for your personal development or to become more valuable to your employer, you are in fact thinking long-term. Learning something useful and practical can have a long-term effect on your career.
The key word in setting priorities is SACRIFICE. Choosing priorities usually require sacrificing certain pleasures now for much bigger and more important ones in the future.
Setting priorities starts with establishing your life’s objectives and then organize your time and activities so that you get the highest productivity and start taking the first steps in the desired direction.
If you’ve set long-term priorities, you can decide about the short-term ones more easily.
When you feel that you have too much to do and too little time, take a pen and paper, sit down, breathe, and make a list of things you want to accomplish. Although often there won’t be enough time to do everything, there is always enough time to do the most important ones.
Once you’ve made the list, ask yourself: “If I had to leave town for two weeks, and could complete only one thing on the list, what would it be?” Think carefully, and then choose it from the list. Then ask yourself again: “If I could do one more thing before I leave, what would it be?” It will become the second most important thing on your list.
Do this exercise five or six times until you have sorted the most important things on the list. Then, organize them according to priority.
Another great way to set your priorities, after you’ve obviously set long-term goals, is the A-B-C-D-E method.
Use one of these letters in front of each task on the list:
“A” – means “very important, it must be done, otherwise, there will be negative consequences”.
“B” – means “important, it should be done, but it’s not as important as A, and its consequences will not be so serious if you won’t be able to complete it.”
“C” – means “useful to do, but not as important as A or B, and there will be no negative consequences if you don’t complete it.”
“D” – means “optional, to do only if you can delegate someone else to do it for you.”
“E” – means “to remove and to avoid”.
When you use this system, you can easily and quickly sort what is important and what is not, because you can focus your attention on the essential tasks.
Once you’ve clearly figured out the 2-3 things that are top of the list, say no to distractions and other diversions, and focus on their fulfillment.
People accumulate so much stress because they work on fulfilling less important tasks. However, along with the energy and time focusing on higher task priority, all stress disappears.
You’ll feel more energized and excited. When you’re working on something that is very important to you, you will experience an increased self-esteem and a greater inner satisfaction. You’ll feel calmer, more confident and will know you’re able to accomplish what you want.
Here are five ideas that you can use every day to set your priorities and become more efficient:
- Give yourself enough time to clarify your goals so that your chosen priorities take you to something valuable to you. Many people reach the top, the absolute success, and then realize that they lean on the wrong foundation.
- Develop your long-term perspective and work on the things you feel and are convinced to have the greatest impact on your future. Keep your balance in life by organizing your priorities into three categories: health, career, and love.
- Make a commitment to yourself to improve those aspects of your life that are truly important to you. If you work in sales, learn how to be an excellent seller. If you are a parent, learn how to be a great one.
- Make sure you do your work properly, whether you work for someone or you run your own business. The fewer mistakes you make, the less time you lose. Concentration and attention-focusing are the basis here.
- Understand that the most crucial factor in setting priorities is your ability to make intelligent choices. You will always have the freedom to choose. You can choose to do something important and valuable or something that will not get you very far, and thus makes you waste time. But once you’ve made your choice, accept the consequences.
Solve these issues today and set your priorities in each area of your life. Always choose activities that will bring the greatest joy, health, and well-being in the long-term.
Before you know it, “long-term” will come and you will live the life you have chosen to build. You alone are your life’s architect. Choose wisely!