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Align Your Priorities with Your Goals

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Priorities: What is most important and meaningful in your life today — activities, values, beliefs, lifestyle, principles, standards, hobbies, integrity, etc. — that you are not willing to compromise or sacrifice in pursuit of something else — a goal.

Goals: Future-based, anticipated expectations, possibilities, end results, or experiences that you are working towards creating, achieving, or bringing to fruition, which have not yet been realized in the present.

  • Present focused vs. future focused
  • What is happening vs. what will/may be
  • In the present vs. in the future

John had a goal of being a top producer in his company. As such, he looked at the other top producers and the activities in which they engaged and what made them successful. The top salespeople worked 12-hour days, sometimes even seven days a week. Thinking "It worked for them, so I guess I should do that, too," he decided to give up a chunk of his family/personal time and other enjoyable activities/hobbies in his quest to become financially successful.

Although John's priority was spending time with his family, he didn't understand why he felt miserable and encountered resistance while attempting to achieve this goal.

Once he created a personal strategy and a routine for achieving his own larger goals — ones that supported his lifestyle and priorities without asking him to sacrifice what mattered most — he was able to reach those goals with less effort and enjoyed the process even more.

Key Points

If you encounter resistance while attempting to reach certain goals or perform certain tasks, chances are it's either something you really don't want to be doing, such as an old goal that may not serve you anymore (a "should"), or you are operating from someone else's agenda (another "should"). The bottom line is these goals don't support your priorities, and you'll continue to feel "off" throughout your pursuit of these misaligned goals.

Take the time to align your goals with your priorities. Otherwise, you'll feel confined or powerless to make changes, allowing situations, circumstances, or other people to influence or control you. Discover what you truly want by aligning your goals with the priorities in your life rather than with the "shoulds."

The fact is these "should"-based goals do not support your priorities or personal vision. If you are unsure whether the goal, activity, or task classifies as a "should," take a look at your lifestyle, values, and priorities and see if they are all in alignment. If the goal doesn't support them, it's a "should."

The Benefit of Getting This Distinction

At the end of the day, your goals need to be aligned with your priorities. Honor the priorities in your life by making them non-negotiable. Before you map out your goals, determine the priorities in your life that you're not willing to sacrifice. This way, you can identify the activities in which you need to engage and determine what you are willing to give up today — which may even include a conscious, short-term sacrifice of certain priorities — in pursuit of a bigger dream tomorrow.

When your goals are aligned and balanced with your priorities, natural strengths, and talents, you'll maintain your integrity, feel calmer, and experience greater peace of mind and fulfillment while traveling on your path to achieving bigger goals and meaningful, long-lasting results.

Once you orient your life around your priorities, you'll have fewer goals that you'll feel compelled to attain or that consume you. If you design your life and career around what is most important to you daily, you'll avoid becoming hooked on or attached to creating something "better" at a future point in time and will maintain a healthy and happy quality of life.

About the Author

Keith Rosen is an engaging speaker, master sales coach, and well-known author of many books and articles. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country. provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance, and expand their business. The site contains forms and agreements, business guides, business directories, thousands of articles, expert advice, and business blogs.

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