Friday, May 18, 2012

Off Balance - A "Priority" Post

Quick!  What are your priorities, in order?

How easy is it to come up with a list?  Matthew Kelly in his book Off Balance - Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction asks his readers to compile a list as step 2 of his personal and professional satisfaction system.  Last week I assessed myself, finding areas of my life very satisfying and finding some areas for improvement.

This week I worked through the assignment of listing my priorities in order.  So, being the good Christian family man that I am, I did:
  1. God
  2. Wife
  3. Children
  4. Job
  5. Me
Matthew Kelly's method takes this exercise much deeper and harder.  His challenge is for the reader to make a list of potential priorities.  That means a longer list of anything that might make the cut.  List them as they are thought of, in no other particular order:
  • health
  • Jennifer
  • children
  • extended family
  • God, church, faith practice
  • friends
  • small group (could be part of church or faith practice, but I thought of it separately so I'll list it separately)
  • vocation / career
  • recreation
Next, give them rank.  Here's how.  Start with the top item on the list, health.  Compare health to each of the following items, Jennifer, children, extended family...  For each head to head comparison, put a check mark next to the winner.  In comparing health to Jennifer, Jennifer is more important, so she gets the check mark.  (Note that because I am presently healthy and 30 pounds lighter, I define health as something like "spending a lot of time training for a mini marathon, trialthalon, 100 mile bike tour, etc."  If I were were recovering from a heart attack, definition of health, and its priority, would be different).  Similarly, Ryan, Grace, and Trevor also get the check mark over health.  Health is more important than friends, though - have to maintain what I've got.  I finish the comparisons for health.

Next, Jennifer.  She goes head to head against children, (sorry, kids) and down the list.

Children, the same thing, all the way down to recreation.

Now, my list looks like this:
  1. Jennifer - 8 checkmarks
  2. children - 7
  3. God - 6
  4. vocation / career - 4
  5. extended family - 3
  6. health - 3
All else get zero checkmarks.  Not that they aren't important, just not the most important.

Well, it looks as if I'm going to get thrown out of every church men's breakfast this side of the reformation.  God, in third place!  Blasphemy!  What to do?

Fortunately, some of the detail in the book, along with my own ideas, can help.  How does some priorities enable and empower the others?  As it turns out, I strive to be influenced by God and His precepts in all areas of my life.  How I relate to my wife is dictated by God's revelation, the Bible.  Same for my kids, career, family, and so on.  For my kids, the most important thing they need is a father who loves and leads his wife.  For my career, they are influenced by may family.  I just cannot up and leave for a whitewater rafting tour guide job because I've got to be stable and reliable.  So, as expressed by influence, the final rank is:

  1. God, faith, Bible
  2. Jennifer
  3. kids
  4. vocation / career
  5. health
  6. extended family
At this point now, I've worked through two steps - identifying areas of satisfaction and areas to work on; and priorities.  With these in mind, the next step is to establish some core habits that, if practiced consistently, would lead to a more satisfying life.  That's my homework for next week.

What are your priorities, in order?

No comments:

Post a Comment