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Live Your Priorities
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, March 2014

Let's take a moment to think about how the lives we are living align with our priorities. Those priorities may revolve around our families, work, friends, issues of faith and health, the mood of our community, the solace provided by our pets -- all of which are important.

A common wish is that we might be able to allocate the proper amount of time and attention to these priorities, often assigning them a slot or panel of time, and rating them as "first, second, or third" on a perpetual wish list. When we get to the end of a day or a week or a particular assignment, we look at our accomplishments---or lack of them--and feel proud, content, disappointed, or frustrated.

We write lists, we create schedules, and we go to great lengths to insure that the "right" things are done at the "right" times; but life has a way of shifting things -- not to mention us -- around, and we often, with great resignation, remove an item on a list, or slight another.

Because time is both capricious and precious, we continue to attempt to use it wisely, to exercise some control over it, and we recognize those things that deplete or fray this time, thus learning what our priorities truly are.

Our priorities are reflected in the way we live our lives. Many of us fail to see that we often act in ways that send messages we never intended to send. We can also "waste" our energies and time resulting in our priorities moving further down the lists we created.

We can ask ourselves about people whom we claim are priorities. Can we honestly say that we live our life in a way that reveals our affection, or that supports the position they hold in our lives? We hope the people we value feel valued and validated by the way we treat them. But sometimes our behavior masks or distorts our loving feelings and they feel confused and hurt.

It is more important to manage our actions than our time and the lists that control them. We can ask ourselves, Do we stay in touch with those we love? Are we "present" when we talk with them? How do we show them? Have we put our mobile devices away during our time together? What do we do to show that we make an effort to pay attention and listen? How do we demonstrate through our actions that we are happy to have them in our presence and in our lives? What can we do to avoid sending messages -- no matter how subtle -- that we wish they would change?

It is easy to say, "Family is my priority." It can be a daunting challenge to consistently behave in a manner that demonstrates this as our reality.

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