Last summer, I re-directed my life.
After my husband and I moved to Marina del Rey, I took time off from work to percolate. I attended Interior Design School. I did home projects…decorating, cooking, entertaining. (I painted most of the walls in our house and became quite a little handy woman in the process…FYI )
Finally, wanting to feel more productive, I decided to get my masters degree in psychology and enrolled at Antioch University.
Then I read a book called “The Four Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris and my life changed.
Ferris has a system on how to prioritize your life. (I am really going to paraphrase here. Ferris’ description is much more detailed than what I’m sharing with you.)
But, in general, this is a simple exercise with very big impact. You can use this exercise to direct your life…anyway you want. Forever!
1. List Everything You Want to Be, Have and Do
Everything. Everything you think is important or want to do in this life, write it down. Even things you don’t think are possible, but you’d like to have or be or experience. Put them all down on paper.
This will take some time. At first great things start coming to you, like traveling around the world; owning your own yacht; speaking Japanese fluently; having a fabulous romantic relationship, etc.
Then you’ll ponder and mull in your sleep. You’ll think of more. It’s all good. Write it down.
And once you think your list is complete…
2. Edit Your List to the Top FOUR Priorities
This is a little tougher. You really have to think about what’s important. What do you really want to be? What do you really want to have? What do you really want to spend your time doing?
(That’s what this exercise is really about. How you really want to spend your time in life.)
I edited my list: Get a masters in psychology. Complete design school. Visit family. Redo the bathroom.
I looked at my list. I didn’t feel excited.
These were all good things. Seeing family. Learning. Building.
These were things I could do or should do…but they didn’t inspire or motivate me to want to do.
3. Each Priority MUST Inspire & Motivate You!
You must really get excited and charged when you think about these four things! They must make you want to get up in the morning! They must stimulate your energy and creativity!
My list bored the hell out of me.
So I threw it out and started over.
I listed things I really wanted to do in life. Despite what anyone thought. Despite the “shoulds” in my head.
I wrote: Go to water ski camp. Paint the bedroom. Vacation with my husband on a tropical island. Write an on-line newsletter. Speak French fluently. Italian, too. Visit South America.
Then I narrowed my list down to the Top Four.
And I realized…Psychology school wasn’t even on my list. Didn’t even come in my head as I was writing. Not once!
(Wow. Guess who didn’t go to Psychology class the next day?)
4. Complete the Top Four Priorities Within the Next 3-6 Months
If one of your goals is too general or not obtainable within 3-6 months, break it down.
If speaking French fluently was a priority, I would have enrolled in a French class and started learning. (French didn’t make it into my Top 4.)
Let’s say you want a romantic relationship. What can you do to move yourself towards that goal within three months? Something you’re not already doing now. You could: Join an organization to meet new people. Practice flirting five minutes a day. Learn more about yourself and who you want to be (and attract) in a relationship.
The goal must stretch you. It must take you out of your comfort zone. It must extend you past your normal routine and inspire you towards the big goal.
And the first step must be attainable within 3-6 months.
5. Re-Evaluate Your List Every 3-6 Months
Do you remember your New Year’s Resolutions? I don’t. (And if I did, I probably didn’t do them.)
Re-evaluating your Top Priorities every 3-6 months not only gives you clarity…it gives you flexibility. And the ability to accomplish what’s really important to you without a lot of distraction.
And it allows you to change your mind. If after three months, you stop feeling inspired, do something else. Make a new list.
When I’m asked to do something that doesn’t align with my Top Four priorities, I tell people to get back with me on a certain date because for now, my plate is full!
Next time you’re overwhelmed with “to dos,” list your priorities, eliminate the “shoulds” and go forth inspired…(for at least three months!)