Six steps to move yourself in the right direction

By johannatime On January 25, 2013 Under Quality of Life and Work

‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there’ – Lewis Carroll. And you’ll walk around overwhelmed and restlessly, wasting your time. You’re likely to have trouble prioritising and you’ll probably have an unsatisfied feeling at the end of the day, every day, because you don’t feel you’ve been productive at all.

It may be many men’s and women’s biggest challenge. And any model applied is easier said than done. Moving in the right direction is about setting priorities. Prioritising isn’t just a trick, it means using your intuition. And it can be learned. Your subconscious (or gut, or little voice in the back of your head, whatever appearance yours has) will help you. To develop your intuition for setting the right priorities, you need to raise your awareness of what you find important in your life.

So here are six steps towards developing your sense of priority that will make you do the right things:

Step 1: find some words to define your purpose

Step out of your current role as a [your position] and look at yourself as someone with a past and a future. Where are you from and where are you going? What values are truly important to you? And why are you here? Answering these questions may take a few years, or even a lifetime, but try at least a draft. You will always find better words for your purpose, but your purpose itself will hardly change.

Step 2: visualise

Now that you have unraveled your purpose, what do you see when your purpose is met and your values are respected. What does your life look like? Visualise this in a drawing, a mindmap, an image, a collage or a vision board, or describe it colorfully and passionately. Again, this is a living document. Keep updating it at your own pace.

Step 3: define milestones

What major changes and improvements to your life could you accomplish in the next few years, in order to work towards your vision and your purpose? It could be a career or life style change, or a relational thing. Or it could be about buying or selling property. It may take a while to accomplish, as long as you set yourself some goals to work towards.

Step 4: reality check

Now sincerely answer these questions: What are your responsibilities right now (personal and professional)? And what is your concern to maintain or to look after? Make a list for both professional en personal responsibilities.

To what extend do your responsibilities align with the stuff you came up with at step 1, 2 and 3? People who have difficulty setting priorities, usually have a gap between 1,2,3 on one hand (dreams) and 4 (reality) on the other. But knowing your purpose, seeing your vision and working towards your major goals, helps you tremendously well in choosing responsibilities that at least don’t violate your plans for the future. I can recommend an inspiring retreat if you need some guidance on this, as step 4 is a difficult and sometimes painful step.

Now that you are aware of your direction its time to change course (if necessary):

– Try firmly to eliminate activities that violate your values, or don’t get you where you want to be, even if that means finding another job in the (near future), or eventually relocating

– Now that the blockers are out of the way, passionately commit to things within reach, that you believe will help you correct course, no matter if they cost you time and money (you’ll probably be glad to invest)

– Your new responsibilities portfolio will lead you the way, and you’ll set course in alignment with your purpose

‘But what about my job?’ Well, if your current job is violating your purpose, you will find it hard to develop an intuitive sense for priorities, because you are not engaging with your job on an emotional level. You’ll have to make mathematical decisions (that consume a lot of energy) to keep up with your work flow, whereas if you’d be working towards your purpose within your job, you’d be making decisions naturally.

Let’s continue:

Step 5: define short term outcomes

What projects would you be able to finish within some months from now that embody your new responsibilities portfolio? What would be your desired outcome for those projects? What projects are coming to you naturally, that you can now embrace and complete shortly? And what projects do you need to cancel, now that you know where you’re heading at?

Basically, step 1-5 is your agenda. By committing to these, and reviewing them regularly, you establish your intuitive sense for what is important and what is not. Something may seem important from the outside (an urgent call, an e-mail with a red flag), but you can now confidently trust your judgement on it, and act accordingly.

Step 6: action

This step should be done for each project you came up with at step 5: What is the next physical action you’d need to do to get that desired outcome, as if there were nothing else in the world (because that is de exact same action as when there are a milion other things you need to do)? You should see yourself doing it and finishing it.

As I mentioned before, developing your intuitive sense for priorities is not done overnight. But your subconscious will help you as soon as you start verbalising your desires and purpose. And as long as you violate your values, you will have difficulty trusting your priorities, because you still need to make decisions rationally, not naturally and intuitively.

Now trust the little voice in the back of your head! If it keeps asking for attention by wispering: ‘you should be doing something else right now’, you have not set the right priorities. In my next post, I will explain how this works for setting priorities for everyday decisions about what to spend your time on.

And please comment below if you’d like to share your direction, and how you keep your course, in the comments below:

Johanna Jansen

  • […] I’m now reading Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink. Interesting stuff about human motivation and why we do things that are not rewarded with money. In one of its chapters Pink describes that if intrinsic motivation disappeares, something that used to be play can now feel like work, and you don’t want to do it anymore. About 3 years ago, when I just started applying Getting Things Done® (GTD®) to my work flow organisation, I had the opposite experience: work started feeling like play. Simply because I got better at it, and I got to work towards my goals, vision and purpose. […]

  • […] director sets out longer term goals and strategy, aligning them and translating the thought process into understandable and inspiring […]

  • […] Discipline is, for anyone who wants to change their old ways, the only way. It should be celebrated, cultivated, embraced as a pathway to achieving your goals. […]

  • […] Purpose is knowing where you’re heading at, and why, and feeling that heading there is inevitable, […]

  • […] overpromise and live with the consequences. Even when you are your own boss: Not knowing exactly what you’re doing, and why, gives you stress, because you’re constantly switching between ‘what is my goal, what […]

  • […] approach saves us time and headspace, there is time to get things done and move forward in the direction of our opportunities, rather than being overwhelmed by worry and stress, caused by nagging thoughs lurking in the dark […]

  • […] Maybe your primary goal is to get organised instead of to organise your life, so it can happen. Look beyond today’s must-do’s by reflecting on your life purpose […]

  • […] the same universe where everything is possible, but you see more clearly and you are capable of steering towards your goals, rather than let things happen to you randomly. No secret. Just […]

  • […] risk you are compromising your health and potentially burn-out. I’d suggest you to start aligning work and life today. It doesn’t mean you have to leave your job. I am just encouraging you to integrate […]

  • -->

    Add a comment

    • Avatars are handled by Gravatar
    • Comments are being moderated