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Your Priorities Are Your Actions, Not What You Say Or Write Down

by Jennifer on December 9, 2009

By Jennifer Blanchard

Last week Laura Lee Bloor of the blog, Tenacious Me, referenced an article from Success Magazinewritten by Leo Babauta (yes, I’m a huge Leo fan) that I’d never read before.  

Babauta’s article discussed the three mistakes to avoid when setting your priorities. The three big mistakes he said people commonly make are:

  • They Don’t Think About It–“People often do their work and live their lives without consciously setting priorities,” Babauta says. “They’re showing their priorities through their actions, but they’re not consciously set. As a result, they end up living lives and doing work they don’t really want. They fall into a life they don’t want rather than designing the life they want.”
  • They Make It Too Complicated–“Some people do set priorities, but they do so with complicated systems of numbers and letters,” he says. “‘A1’ is given to top priorities, then ‘A2’ to the next level, down to ‘B1’ and ‘C2’ and so forth. The truth is, you can only really have a couple of real priorities at a time. If you think you have many priorities, you aren’t being realistic — you will end up putting a couple of those ‘priorities’ on the backburner — which means they weren’t priorities in the first place.”
  • They Don’t Live Their Priorities–“It’s one thing to set priorities, it’s another to live them,” Babauta says. “What you actually do, how you live your life, reveals your actual priorities. Your priorities are what you live, not what you put on paper. Too often people say their priorities are one thing, but their lives show those “priorities” are given very little actual time.”

Although those three mistakes are ones I see people make all the time regarding their priorities, I think the one they make most often is not living their priorities.

Think about it–How many times have you said that writing is your priority? Probably countless times. But how often do you actually make time for writing? Probably not very often.

Which goes to prove that old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Sure, you can tell yourself and everyone around you until you’re blue in the face that writing is your priority. But if you’re not sitting down and writing on a daily (or almost-daily) basis, then writing really isn’t your priority.

Here’s another example:

I’m a health nut. I am currently attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and training to be a certified holistic health counselor.

I’m always making to-do lists and setting goals. I’m always talking about how people should eat and how often people should exercise. I’m always giving health advice and offering suggestions for ways people can be healthier.

I tell myself and everyone around me that healthy living is my priority.

But do I find time to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week? No. Do I eat healthy 90 percent of the time? No. Do I avoid processed food and junk food because I’ve been educated on how harmful it is? No.

So although I’m saying that healthy living is my priority, my actions prove otherwise.

And when it comes down to it, your actions are your true priorities, not what you say or write down.

Yes, that is definitely hard to hear. It’s hard to digest. It’s hard to accept.

But when you finally do accept it and realize it and take responsibility for your actions, something amazing will happen.

You’ll finally be in a position to take the steps necessary to make your priority of writing in alignment with your actions.

To get Babauta’s tips for living your priorities, be sure to read his Success Magazine article.

What priorities do you say you have, but then don’t actually take action on?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 S. Megan Payne December 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm

My problem is that I can’t seem to set priorities within writing. :sighs: I have too many things on the burner and though I do them all every week, I’m a little scattered. Too scattered. At least I know it. I’m still deciding what to do about it.

2 Jennifer December 9, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Great post! I have a priorities post on my blog coming up Friday, the 11th, so your post (and pic!) caught my eye. (I wrote mine before yours came out, though! LOL) I hadn’t thought about applying the priorities to my writing–at least not this specifically. Thanks for the reminder!

3 turisuna December 10, 2009 at 3:27 am

I agree with you, words without actions is useless. The problem for me is I like to make some plans on paper, ‘I should do this I should do that etc’, but at the end only few of them that I can reach lol. Now I try to not too much plan something, just write down the bottom line and then do it the best I can.

4 Laura Lee Bloor December 10, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Thanks so much for the reference! I must say, December is an especially rough month to stick to your goals, so I would advise everyone not to be too hard on yourself. (Including myself!) Enjoy the season — spend extra time with family and friends. Your goals will benefit in the longrun from you enjoying the present.

5 Andrew Frenette December 19, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Great post. It hit me square between the eyes. I’ve read Leo’s article in Success and I’ve read his posts about finding your passion. You’re absolutely right – our priorities are our actions. If we don’t do anything at all, what exactly are our priorities? Sometimes truth hurts. Thank you.

6 Ben September 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Love this, thanks!

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