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When my husband and I moved to the US we already had a small internet business that let us save some money, satisfy all our needs and most importantly spend time with our babies and with each other. A couple of months after we moved here my husband and I received great job offers. It was the same time when the economic crisis has just struck the US and most people were losing their jobs instead of getting offers.
The salary was good and together with our home business it would have put us in upper middle class. There is no need to say that we were very tempted to accept the offer and we put a lot of thinking into it. More money. An interesting job. Moving expenses completely covered. Possible career growth and the feeling of self-accomplishment (maybe?). On the other hand we would have had to give up our freedom, time with each other and we would have missed so many wonderful times with our girls.
We didn’t accept the offer. Even though the company came back and offered me work from home on a flexible schedule, I still refused it. Why? My top priority in life is my family and I have realized it long before I got that offer.
The decision that I had to make was a difficult one but knowing my priorities helped me to make the right choice which I have never regretted.
Our life is full of choices. I believe that we are totally responsible for our lives, for all decisions that we make in life and the consequences of those decisions. I also believe that we can avoid a lot of mistakes in life by organizing our life and realizing our priorities.
When you set priorities in your life you create the structural framework of your life. Later on you can start adding small pieces that will fill gaps between the frame and make your life more enjoyable. However, you can’t add small things first because your entire life will fall apart. It’s important to know what priorities are your framework and to organize your life around them.
Most people will have to focus on the following priorities in life (I put them in alphabetical order, so there are no preferences):
- Career (satisfying your ambitions, creating the feeling of self-accomplishment through the appreciation of others)
- Interests, hobbies, adventures, friends
- Spiritual needs
You can add other priorities if you can think of anything else.
The next question is choosing the order of these priorities in your life.
We cannot be focusing on all priorities at the same time. We all know that sometimes we have to give up something in life in order to maintain our life balance. In the real world we have to forget about our interests for the sake of money and comfortable living. Sometimes we have to decide what is more important: a dinner with your extended family or a business meeting in another city. How important is it to focus on your spiritual needs when your career is going down in flames? Is that gym membership for the sake of your health more important than a new TV for your kids?
I cannot give you an advice on how to set priorities in life (it would be stupid of me, really. We are all different after all.) I can ask you one question though:
What would your life be in 5, 10, 50 years if you neglect any of the priorities that you have set in your life? (Try to write down at least a couple of sentences for each of them.)
If you think really hard about the answer to this question then you will easily realize what the most important part of your life is. You do not need any other fancy techniques, tests or quizzes to answer this question. Your brain and your experience are your best tools.
Just to show how it works I am going to write down my personal list of life priorities and why I have chosen them.
- Spiritual needs (religion). I am a Christian and I put my trust in God no matter what I do. The topic of religion is very controversial and here I am just sharing where I stand in life (you do not have to make the same choices that I did in life.). You can ask me questions about this choice through the contact form – I would be happy to answer them.
- Family. My family is a part of me. I cannot imagine living without them and actually enjoying my life. It hasn’t been this way all the time. I remember that before I got married and had kids I didn’t appreciate my family enough (I really regret it now.) I focused my life on “me” and forgot about people who loved me.
- Health. I believe that I have to take care of my health while I am still young. Everything that I do now will influence my quality of life 10, 20 and 50 years from now. No matter how I love cakes and pizza, I still think that a healthy heart at 60 is more important than a bite of pleasure today.
- Money. I am not crazy about money but I am practical enough to admit that it buys a comfortable life. I am not going to chase after money for the sake of buying a bigger house or a new car but I will do my best to provide for the needs of my family.
- Interests, hobbies, adventures, friends and other pleasurable things. Balance In Me is one of my hobbies. I enjoy writing articles for this blog, I enjoy the feeling of self-accomplishment that it gives me and I enjoy having a conversation with hundreds of wonderful people who I could have never met in person. However, I would give up all these if Balance In Me stood in the way of any of the top 4 priorities for me.
- Career. Career is not actually on my list, I even want to avoid it as much as possible. I enjoy my free life with my family where I do not have a boss and do not have to take orders from anybody. Maybe I am not making as much as I would have if I used my education (I have a Master’s Degree in engineering) but I am happy with the life I have. I do not find it exciting or important to work in an office but I know a lot of people who do.
An amazing part about life is that everything constantly changes. The priorities that you set today might be completely different a couple of months from now. And that’s fine because we grow, we improve, we get smarter and get a deeper understanding of life as we live. No matter how your life changes you still must have that framework that will keep you together and will help you to withstand any life hurricanes.
You are the owner of your life and only you can decide what is important and what is not. Do not let opinions of other people influence this decision for you and do not be afraid to make tough decisions any more.
Keep it balanced!