Align Your Actions with Your Priorities: A Happiness Tip

Align your actions with your prioritiesSometimes in life, it feels like things just aren’t working out. You may feel like you’re trying to move forward, but a strong force keeps pushing you back. When I’m in that situation, I stop and assess. Frequently, I find that it’s results from my own actions that are getting in my way.

If you feel like there’s something in your way, here are 3 tips on how to align your actions with your priorities so you can move forward.

1. Write down what you want.

There is nothing in the world like writing. Sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself, “What do I want?” When you write, be as specific as possible. Don’t leave any detail out. Think through every component of your desired outcome, and then create a detailed description of what this achievement looks like to you.

These answers that you write don’t have to be things; they can be feelings. Also, these don’t have to be concrete; they can be abstract. Some examples of answers to “What do I want?” may include:  to be relaxed, to be more involved with my children/friends/family, to get a raise, to create a business, to be more financially stable, or to learn something new.

If you answer that you have multiple things that you want, take the time to map out each item. Examine what specifically will make you think that you are successful with each one. Now, check to make sure that the things that you want are not contradictory and that everything is realistic. Remember, we all only have 24 hours in the day.

If you have lofty dreams (which is fine), try to figure out what the steps are to your ultimate success. By mapping out the steps to realize your dreams, you will be more likely to get to your end point.

2. Assess your actions.

Now that you know just exactly what you want, make sure that everything you do advances you toward your goal. Before you take action, ask yourself, “Does this get me closer to what I want?” If you already know that it won’t, don’t do it!

When you’re unsure of whether taking action moves you forward or not, stop. Just stop and take some time where you’re not doing anything. Taking some time for meditation or relaxation is a good idea. I suggest practicing breathing to clear your mind and get you back on track.

Once you have taken some time for yourself, it might be more obvious whether this action progresses you forward or not. If you decide that it does help you get closer to getting what you want, go ahead and do it. However, if you are still unsure or if you decided that it doesn’t help, don’t do it.

Now is the time to really start paying attention to how you’re spending your energy and what you’re doing. If you’re doing something that doesn’t move you toward completion of your goal, quit doing it for right now. That’s not to say that you should never do this thing again, it’s just that now is not the right time.

For example, my sister-in-law recently wanted to get stronger. She decided to use the Starting Strength technique. In order to achieve her wish to be stronger, she set aside her weekly spin class. She loves spinning and really feels great cardiovascular benefit from it. However, since it wouldn’t contribute to her strength (and overall increased strength was her true desire), she put spin class on hold. Once she gained as much strength as she could and moved into maintenance mode, she added spinning back into her week.

3. Align your actions with your priorities.

Just like my sister-in-law, you need to align your actions with your priorities. If you’re doing something that doesn’t directly advance you to get what you want, try temporarily removing that action. For those who want intangible things like relaxation, it can be a little more challenging to assess whether you’re making choices to bring you closer to having what you want.

In this case, think about what things, incidents, or people make you feel the opposite of relaxed. Once you can identify what makes you tense, work on reducing any stressors in your life. If it’s your job, think about what job would make you happiest, and start looking for that.

People can also be stressors. Some folks are just high-drama, and it’s okay to choose not to participate. If just the thought of talking to a certain person makes your jaw clench, start by having less of that person. One by one, sort through the people in your life, and choose to spend time with no-drama people who make you feel happy and relaxed.

By being really clear about what you want in life, you can start examining your actions to ensure that you’re making choices that lead you down the path to get what you want out of life. As you move down your path, keep checking that your actions align with your priorities.

What do you do to align your actions with your priorities? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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