Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ingredients for Inner Peace - How to Get Your Priorities in Order

Would you agree that we are all looking for inner peace in our lives? Whether people realize it or not, that is really what we are all seeking - a way to do away with the chaos in our lives.

It is only when you align all your actions with your priorities that you will experience peace and success in all endeavors and be all that you can be.

This has been a lesson that I have learned the hard way and one that I have to continually remind myself of.

You have probably all heard me rave about my favorite book, Time Power: The Revolutionary Time Management System That Can Change Your Professional and Personal by Charles R. Hobbs. It has changed my thinking and my life in so many ways. It helped clearly define my priorities and put them in order. It has been amazing! Even though the book is about "time" management it really is about "life" management. It takes a lot of time to go through the book, and I am still not finished with it, but it is well worth ALL the time I have put into it! The book is now out of print, but a few used copies are still lurking around.

I thought I would take some time to share with you why I love this book so much:

Why is this book so transformational? What does it teach?

Well, first of all, if you want to get your life together and have any kind of control over it instead of it controlling you, Hobbs suggest these things:

1. Make a list of what you value most; identify your highest priorities in life.
Hobbs calls these unifying principles. Do you value honesty, integrity, family, God, leadership, responsibility, friendships, etc.? What about faith, humility discipline. Make a list of all the things that are most important to you. Be thorough and honest. Some people start our with only a few and add more in the coming weeks and months, while others write down many upfront. It depends on you and what works for you.

2. Since the priorites you make a list of are broad, the next step is to rewrite each principle as an action statement. For example, if you wrote down "honesty" as a unifying principle, you would now write something like "be honest." "Family might become "support my family." Whatever it means to you and causes you to rise to action.

3. Make sure your unifying principles are the noblest of ideas and mutually compatible. If you write down "become wealthy whatever the cost" that will be in conflict with your other principles, because when faced with the decision to be wealthy or honest or have a good family the honesty and family will be the ones that suffer. What will happen is you will push aside everything that is really important to you and lose them. That will leave you more empty than you could have imagined. Simply make sure they are all compatible and can work together.

4. Write a paragraph of clarification under each unitying principle you wrote down. Be clear about what it means.
An example of one I wrote out is:
"Be a woman of integrity. Be honest, trustworthy, consistent, dependable and reliable. Be someone that people can count on to be there for them. Always do what you say you will and make your actions in line with your values and priorities." Doesn't that make me accountable!

5. Prioritize the list. This one took me quit a bit of time to do, but as Hobbs says "your list of unifying principles is the most important list you will ever prioritize. The order you select can make a huge difference in how you perform." Will you love yourself before you neighbor or vice versa? Take some time to think about these things.

In his book he gives a series of questions to ask yourself to help you priortize them in the best order.

6. Evaluate your performance over the past few weeks and months. Have you lived up to this order? You probably have in some areas and not in others. That is very typical. That is the purpose of doing this exercize. It will bring you in touch with reality. This will show you what you need to work on. This is the point where I saw that I was mostly doing the opposite of what was really important to me and saw the need for real change in my life.

For example, if one of your unifying principles is to be honest, you might ask yourself if you have been totally honest. Have you stretched the truth any to try to get your way or make yourself look good?

7. Bring your performance in line with your unifying principles. The best way to accomplish this is to schedule some time to yourself every morning when you completely cut yourself off from everything. At this time read over your unifying principles and focus on what is really important to you. This will help you to achieve concentration of power in your life.

Do you own a business? First lay out your personal unifying principles and then lay out the ones for your company. Personal priorities must always come first.

Well, maybe this will help you as much as it did me and give you a taste of why I love this book so much.

What is your feedback? Was this list helpful to you? What have you found helpful in keeping your priorities in order?


shilpan said...


This is a wonderful approach to find inner peace and sense of accomplishment aligned with greater purpose in our life. I am in awe for the steps that are so genuinely good.
I've added link of this article on my latest blog post. Kudos !


Jennifer said...

I'm glad that you found these steps helpful. Anything I can do to help others find inner peace and success in life....

Thanks so much for the link!


Dr. Nicole said...

Jennifer- Great post. I think that chaos is the ultimate evil and am always looking for inspiring ways to help manage it. Hopefully someday I can just pay someone to do it...but until then... Nice work...I'm off to make a mission statement about folding laundry.

Jennifer said...

Yes, chaos and negative thinking are the 2 ultimate evils. I've been thinking alot about simplifying my life more and more...

That's hilarious - a mission statement to do laundry! :) Will you share it with me. :) I have deemed laundry less important than some other things so mine is still hanging out in the dryer. :)

Thanks for your input. It's great to have you around.

Dr. Nicole said...

Actually you would be really proud of yourself because after I read this post I was inspired to do SIX loads of laundry! I was having a competition with myself to see how many months I could go without having to wash clothes. I feel so much better now ;)

Jennifer said...

Wow! Six loads! I bet you do feel better.
I think my husband used to have competition in college. :) I had to throw away some of his clothes after we got married. What would he do without me now? :)

Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Jennifer,

I have Shilpan to thank for finding you.

I like this post and the concept of aligning our priorities with our actions.

It reminds me of the statement, "do you walk your talk?"

Lisa Callsen said...

This is wonderful, thank you so much for taking the time to break this down. The way Hobbs says to do the process is really quite simple. I know I would have some difficulties with prioritizing.

Currently, owning my own business in the start up phase, I've been struggling with how I get validation. I think this is wonderful. I have put this on my to do list for this week!

Jennifer said...

Yes, Barbara, It is all about walking your talk. It is something I have struggeled with for a long time - doing what I know I need to be doing. So many distractions seem to get in the way. This book has been so helpful in getting me in line. It makes me ever conscious.

Thanks to Shilpan for sending you my way. He does have a great blog at Success Sould and is a great friend also.

Lisa, It's so good to have you around!! Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad this was so helpful to you. That's why I posted it. So others could benefit like I have.