"On what surprised him most about humanity: Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
This famous quote that has been misattributed to the Dalai Lama many times over is from a submission titled "An Interview with God" by the late James (Jim) Brown. Regardless of its origins, the meaning is no less impactful and worthy of deeper introspection.
As someone with a strong Type A personality, commonly associated with high achievement, motivation, and competitiveness, it's far too easy for me to get absorbed in my work. Suppose I hadn't learned early on to do regular self-assessments that ensure I've got my priorities straight. In that case, I could have easily found myself placing success above priorities that matter far more to me in this life than money. I share this with you because most entrepreneurs and high performers have Type A personalities. It's a trait that enables us to succeed at whatever we put our minds to. If you've ever felt like you're working against a clock you've got to beat, or you've got this internal fire inside you that drives you to want to achieve something more in this life, then you're likely in this Type A boat right alongside me. So, how do we ensure our boats don't sink before getting to where we want to go? By regularly checking in with ourselves to ensure we've got our priorities straight. If you're unclear about your priorities or if your actions align with them, here are a few questions you might ask yourself.
QUESTIONS THAT CAN HELP YOU GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
1. WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?
This question might seem a given, but do you genuinely know the priorities that matter the most to you? Are these priorities in line with your values and beliefs? Do these priorities give you a sense of purpose? Are your priorities purely money-driven, or are they well-rounded? Take the time to list your values, what makes you feel purposeful, and which priorities align with both. While your priorities may change here and there, this list can help act as a compass for you when your life feels like it's gone off course.
2. ARE YOUR PRIORITIES ALIGNED WITH YOUR VALUES AND YOUR PURPOSE?
How do you know if you're on the right trajectory? Simply put, you feel good while living up to your purpose and values. But life can feel confusing, stressful, and off-balance when you're not. For example, if your values include making time for your health and family, but you're working 24/7 and miserable, then that's a clear sign that you need to rearrange your priorities. If you're veering off course with your priorities, then refer to your compass and make a plan that gets you back to where you need to be. Regular self-assessments are critical for helping ensure you don't wander too far.
3. DO YOUR CHOICES ALIGN WITH YOUR PRIORITIES?
It's essential to think through the consequences of your choices. When it comes to your priorities, you can ask yourself what the most likely outcome of choosing one priority over another is? Is that outcome worth it? What would happen if you made a different choice? Do you spend time doing "wasteful" things that take away valuable time for important stuff? (Like binge-watching TV?)
If you're still unsure if you're making the right decision or if your choices align with your priorities, you can try what I like to call the "then what" approach. For example, if I prioritize making time for God, my family, and myself every day, but I choose to take on a massive project that I know I don't have time for, then what? Then I'll likely end up overworking. Then what? My family will miss me, I'll probably not make as much time for God as I need, and my self-care will fall through the cracks. Then what? I'm going to feel less fulfilled and less happy. Then what? My work performance on the project will suffer because I shouldn't have taken on more than what I had time to complete.
4. ARE YOU MAKING TIME TO STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS ALONG THE WAY?
Are you making time for what matters most in your life? Are you taking care of your health along the path to making money? Are you taking time away from your business for God, your family, friends, and yourself? Are you doing what invigorates you? And are you making time to stop and smell the flowers along the way? They say that money is the root of all evil, and there is probably a lot of truth in that. But it doesn't have to be that way. Yeah, spending time with your family or health might take hours away from the pursuit of money, but that doesn't mean you still can't do well and have all the other things that matter. You have to organize your time to fit it all in and give up the stuff that is not helping you achieve your priorities.
LIFE'S TOO SHORT NOT TO GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT.
If your priorities are exclusively money-driven, then I implore you to reassess your priorities before it's too late. Tim McGraw makes this excellent point in his song "Live Like You Were Dying." He said,
"I was finally the husband
That most the time I wasn't,
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all of a sudden goin' fishing
Wasn't such an imposition.
And I went three times that year I lost my dad.
Well I finally read the Good Book,
And I took a good long hard look
At what I'd do if I could do it all again.
And then… I went sky divin',
I went rocky mountain climbin',
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
And he said,
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying."
… Like tomorrow was a gift And you've got eternity To think about what you'd do with it, What did you do with it, What can I do with it, What would I do with it.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH IT?