I’m have no doubt you’re a very curious person and that you want to try and experience many things in life. There is nothing more fulfilling than following a diverse and rich life experience.
One great exercise to do is to make yourself a vision list (or a bucket list) with all the things you want to achieve in life. It can be a simple document, a notebook with pictures or even a Pinterest board.
With all the items on the vision list, there is a big question of how to prioritize things you want to achieve and experience. How to decide what to follow first. Which goals should be your number one priority? Like with everything in life, I suggest that you are smart and strategic about it. You have to be one step ahead of life, instincts and randomness.
It doesn’t make sense to only listen to your gut feeling or choose randomly. That’s like playing the lottery. It’s much smarter to take several factors into consideration, analyze them carefully and then decide. And you should do prioritization often, especially to stay flexible and adjust accordingly to changes in your environment.
How often to re-prioritize your vision list? Every quarter is optimal, every year is not often enough, and anything in between will do.
Factors you should consider when deciding which goals to pursue first
I suggest you prioritize items on your vision list and decide which goals to pursue first based on the following factors:
- Your current life situations
- What’s currently the most important thing to you
- What kind of opportunities are showing up in your environment
- What kind of key relationships you currently have
- Your internal resources and external resources
- Your greatest strengths and weaknesses
- Your yearly focus
Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements that have a big influence on your life and should also be taken in consideration when prioritizing your life vision and deciding which goals you should go after first.
Your current life situations
There are ten areas in which you usually set goals – you, health, relationship, money, career, emotions, competences, fun, spirituality, and technology as a leverage. In some areas, you’re in a better position than in others.
In some areas you shine, in others you are in deep trouble or you greatly suck. To get a clearer picture, you can rate every area from 1 to 10.
The main problem becomes when one of the areas is dragging you down. Being broke, having severe health or emotional issues, and also poor relationships are usually problems that have such a negative influence on a person’s life that they negatively influence all other areas.
If you have problems in any of the key areas of life, you want to tackle them first. They should be your priority.
In the same way, different big life situations like expecting a baby, losing your job or getting injured severely influence your priorities. If you are a few days away from getting a baby, quitting your job is probably not the smartest thing to do.
Thus the first thing that will help you choose priorities is to write down your current life situation and decide what kind of limitations it brings to your vision list items.
What’s currently the most important thing to you
Your current life situation is one huge factor in prioritization, the other is what’s currently important to you. At every point in life, you have a different set of values, desires, priorities and things you want to achieve.
You always know and feel what’s important to you in a certain stage of life and what makes you happy. That should definitely be taken into consideration when prioritizing your vision list.
When you are young, your priorities may be partying, then in the 30s acquiring your own home, after you retire wisdom, and so on. Ask yourself what is currently the most important to you.
If you aren’t sure, ask yourself what you miss in your life the most or what you think about most of the time or what are the most common topics you discus with other people.
If you talk only about babies, you probably want to have a baby. If it’s about business, you probably want to improve your career and financial status. Always listen to yourself, your needs and desires when you prioritize your vision list. But don’t decide solely on that, consider also all the other factors.
What kind of opportunities are showing up in your environment
There are things you have influence on in your life, and there are many things that are out of your control or where your control is very limited.
These especially include market trends, changes inside the company you work for, breakups and new people you meet randomly, unexpected opportunities and business proposals offered to you, and so on.
The important fact is that nobody can succeed alone and you need great support from your environment. That’s why you want to pay great attention to what’s happening in your environment. You want to put yourself in a position where your environment works in your favor and there are many opportunities you don’t want to miss that randomly pop up.
You want environment paradigms and your key relationships to greatly support you in achieving your goals. These things are like small boosts or accelerators that will help you achieve your goals faster.
Therefore, always analyze market trends, brainstorm how people that surround you can help, pay attention to unexpected opportunities and always count these factors in when prioritizing your goals.
As an example, if you just unexpectedly got a dream job offer then that is something absolutely worth considering and maybe reshuffling your priorities for. Or for another example, if you just broke up with your spouse and you have more free time, you may decide to dedicate this free time to a hobby you always wanted to learn.
When one door closes, another one opens.
What kind of key relationships you currently have
Your key relationships have an especially important influence on you achieving your goals. You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So you want to spend time with ambitious people who support you, who you can learn from and are role models to you.
When deciding for priorities, you can simply ask yourself where do you have the strongest support at the moment in terms of relationships. In the same way, you also want to make sure that positive traits of other people are a good influence on you and help you achieve your goals.
For example, if you just started dating a very sporty girl, of course improving your fitness is a smart goal and logical priority. You will have big support in achieving that goal. In the same way, if you just met a successful investor and they’re prepared to share their knowledge with you, why not focus on improving your financial situation.
Your internal resources and external resources
The more resources you have, the easier it is to achieve many goals. The fewer resources you have, the more you have to innovate, learn and do all the hard and smart work. That goes for external resources like money and status, and for internal resources like knowledge and experiences.
A lack of internal resources has an especially big influence on how long it will take you to achieve a certain goal. There is a simple reason for that.
The hard fact of reality is that when you begin something new, you suck at it. You have no knowledge, skills and experiences, which makes goal setting very hard. It’s hard to set a goal in an area you know nothing about.
But then slowly, by acquiring knowledge and experience, you can define your goals more specifically. In AgileLeanLife terms, you are first in the search mode and then you enter the execution mode when you find your fit. But before you find your fit you always have to go through a period of before product-market fit apathy.
This principle is important, because you can’t focus on several new areas and big goals at once. One big goal, several small goals is the rule. You want to make ten steps in one direction, not one step in ten directions.
Internal and external resources also define how much you can expose yourself to new investments and risks. The more resources you have, the bigger risks you can afford.
Always consider how much resources you have and where you will invest them. And remember that the most precious resource you have is your time.
Your greatest strengths and weaknesses
You build your success on your strengths; but you have to make sure that your weaknesses are not holding you behind big time. You always have some weaknesses that are preventing you from progressing faster in life, and these are the weaknesses you have to deal with and make your priority.
For example, if starting your own business would take you a big step further in terms of finances and career and you have many great ideas, but you’re really afraid to start your own business because of a fear of failure, that is something you have to address or you will be stuck at a job forever.
The kind of weaknesses that are preventing you from making a step further in life should always be a priority to deal with. Your fears show you where you have to grow in life. You have to face your fears and weaknesses sooner or later.
Thus you should make your fears the number one priority to tackle among your goals. Because successfully dealing with your fears opens a world of completely new possibilities. Go for the things you fear the most first.
Your fears show you where you have to grow in life.
Your yearly focus
Last but not least, if you want to progress in life, you have to somehow focus your efforts. The best way to focus is to take one (or maximum two) life area(s) as a priority that you want to greatly improve in one year.
Greater focus means greater progress. Thus you should always choose one life area that becomes your focus for a certain period of time.
For example, if you choose health as your yearly priority, you will have no problem finding a way to your perfect diet, you will absolutely find the strength and stamina to regularly exercise and you will be able to admire changes in the mirror; not to mention better moods and higher levels of energy. Focus gives great power to goal achieving.
When you’re deciding what life area to put in focus, go for the area that:
- Will most improve the overall quality of your life
- Is currently very important to you
- You have or you can build yourself a supporting environment to achieve all the goals more easily
- You have enough willpower and other resources to tackle challenges in a focused way
- It enables you to employ your strengths, but also to address your weakness and fears
When you choose that one life area, it usually pulls several items from the vision list to the top of priorities. As we have seen, putting health in focus influences your diet, exercise regime, overall lifestyle, and so on. That means you can combine goals in a very smart way.
The next steps after prioritizing your life vision
When you prioritize your life vision list, you should have 3 – 7 items on the top of your vision list that you plan to realize in the next 3 – 12 months. Most of these 3 – 7 items should be related to one area you want to greatly improve.
You should have 1 or 2 bigger goals and several small ones. You must be really careful to limit your work in progress and not to overwhelm yourself.
Here is an example of selected items from a vision list as a yearly goal plan:
- Losing 20 pounds of fat (health)
- Being able to run a small marathon (health)
- Improving posture (health)
- Travelling to Australia (fun)
- Brainstorming ideas and finding several potential business ideas (business)
- Reading 10 books on gardening (competence, fun)
- Forging one deep international friendship (relationships, fun)
- Saving 10 % of my income monthly (money)
The focus area is obviously health. 80 % of the goal-achieving energy is invested into that area.
When you have your prioritized vision list, you should print the selected items and put them in some visible place. The next step then is to add a powerful emotional charge to every one of the selected items – you add a strong why, and list all the benefits you will enjoy by achieving your goals.
You do that by developing every selected vision item into a short life story. And then out of a short life story, you develop a Goal Journey Map. Happy prioritizing.
Do you want to know more about goal setting?
This article is part of the series of how to successfully set goals in the 21st century. It’s part of the AgileLeanLife Goal Setting Framework, which has the following seven steps:
- Define your vision list
- Prioritize your vision list
- Develop life stories for 5 – 7 items at the top of your list – specify what exactly and why
- Create a goal journey map to build a superior strategy and define the process
- Use branching and forking to stay flexible with alternative paths
- Organize the superior strategy on your to-do lists with a 100-day plan and sprints
- Mind the principles in the AgileLeanLife Manifesto
You’re at the bolded article and kindly invited to read the rest of them when they will be published.