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Priorities: Are You a Meanderer, a Dreamer, or a High Performer?

character distraction focus priorities Sep 09, 2021

Have you ever studied someone who truly had their “stuff” together?  They always seemed to be moving with purpose.  They knew where they were, where they were going, what they were doing, why they were doing it, and their actions were always in support of something worthwhile and of value.  They acted intentionally and seldom wasted time.

If you are like most, you often find yourself pinging from one task to another without accomplishing much at the end of the day.  You begin the day with good intentions and have a plan.  You then respond to an important email, a text, a phone call, or a social media alert.  You then check the market.  Finally, you get to the important task, only to become distracted by someone needing your help.  You then break for lunch and the cycle repeats itself.  When done, you realize that distractions dominated your time, and you have little evidence of a productive day.

Today is the age of distraction.  We live in an environment where it is easy to be consumed by seemingly relevant tasks, but you end up short of accomplishing what is most important.  The average person spends four hours a day on a device and another four hours a day watching TV.  THAT IS EQUIVALENT OF A FULL TIME JOB.  Imagine spending 40+ hours a week looking at your phone or watching TV.  What could you accomplish if you consistently spent a portion of those eight hours doing something of importance?

If this describes you, you may benefit by identifying and assessing your priorities.  If you want to live intentionally and purpose oriented, you must have clearly defined priorities, AND live them.  You must learn to say no to other distractions and act on your priorities.  It is easy to identify your priorities, but extremely difficult AND REWARDING to live them.

Intentional vs. Actual Priorities

So, what are priorities and what do they practically do for us?  Priorities provide focus.  They help you determine how and where to INVEST your time, energy, and other resources (including money) in exchange for a long-term return, versus how you SPEND your time and resources with little to no return.  More importantly, priorities serve as a self-accountability tool to measure your actions against what is most important.  Clearly defined priorities help you avoid and mitigate the countless number of time wasters that occur daily.  

Priorities are not day-to-day tasks.  They are much broader and enduring  in nature.  They include long-term goals, aspirations, and responsibilities.  Consider your priorities as another set of guard rails.  You have the latitude to move within, but they guide you to your destination while preventing you from driving off the cliff.

Envision two non-overlapping circles.  The circle on the left represents your “actual priorities” determined by how you spend or invest your time and other meaningful resources.  For example, if you spend most of your time watching TV, gaming, surfing the internet, or on your devices, it shouldn’t surprise you what your “actual priorities” are. 

The circle on the right represents your “intentional priorities”.  This circle includes the people, activities, goals, aspirations, etc.  that are most important and meaningful to you.  They are things you have intentionally identified and determined that are important, worth doing, and help you become the person you aspire to be.

Looking at the diagrams, three potential scenarios occur.  First, imagine the individual with only “actual priorities”.  This individual meanders through life without any specific direction or intention.  They spend their resources because they’ve not committed the time to develop any long-term goals, aspirations, or “intentional priorities” that provide a long-term return on their investment.  They live day-to-day and simply  “get by”.  Sadly, this scenario is more common than you may think. 

The second scenario includes individuals with both types of priorities.  Like everyone, they have “actual priorities” determined by how they allocate their time.  They also  have goals, aspirations, and “intentional priorities”, but lack the focus and discipline to live them.  This results in the two circles never overlapping.  I refer to these individuals as dreamers.  They have a plan, but lack the discipline and focus to make it happen. 

The third scenario describes the “peak performer”.  Like the “dreamer, they have both actual and intentional priorities.  The difference is the “overlap” between the two circles.  The “peak performer” acts and makes the stated priorities their actual priorities.  In other words, “they walk the talk”.  The “peak performer’s” challenge becomes maximizing the overlap between the two circles.  The more overlap they create, the more intentional they become.

Are you a meanderer, a dreamer, or a peak performer?

To learn how to establish your priorities and use them to navigate today's dynamic and challenging environment, consider taking my "Character Dirven Leadership Course", or, to learn how to "Create Laser-Like Focus for Optimal Performance" Course.

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