There are so many things we can want in life – success, achieving a qualification, career development, financial security, feeling happy, positive relationships with others..……..the list is endless and can feel quite mind boggling.

Do you ever ask yourself “What’s important to me in my life?”

I have learned that if I don’t ask myself this question at regular intervals, I start to very quickly get caught up in other people’s issues, or start to feel totally frustrated that I just don’t have enough time or energy to achieve everything I want to do. Or, I start projects that I actually don’t have the right or enough skills to achieve or complete. And following this, I become demoralised as I realise I am getting nowhere with my great exciting ideas and plans!

Can you relate to any of these examples? I certainly don’t enjoy feeling like or experiencing any of them. Life begins to feel like a fast moving seesaw with no balancing axis in the middle. And it’s definitely not a healthy way to live – emotionally, psychologically and physically.

So, here is an exercise I take myself through whenever I realise I am back on that seesaw. You might find this helpful as well, to regain and maintain balance whilst you are moving through your life and deciding what it is you want that life to be.

I compile a list of all the things I want in my life. What goes into my list will depend on which junction I am at at the time. I find it useful to structure my list into various categories. For example, Health, Financial, Home, Relationships, Career, etc. Then I just write down everything I want under each category.

It is the next step that makes or breaks this exercise – the reality check.

Working through the list again, decide against each item how important it is in your life (see, I’m expecting you think this will be a useful exercise and that you have or are in the process of compiling your own!). You might find it useful to apply a grading scale to help you decide the level of importance, e.g., 1= extremely important, 5= minor importance.

As you complete this part of the exercise, you may even find some items can be struck off your list altogether, as they just aren’t as important as you first thought. I can tell you, it certainly makes the prospect of achieving all those things you want in life a lot less daunting and out of reach, as your list becomes more manageable.

For this exercise to work, you need to be really honest with and realistic about yourself. If there are any things on your list that are important but not necessarily right now, then transfer these to a separate list, a place where you can revisit them at a later time and start setting some longer-term goals and action steps around them. See, your list has become that much more manageable again. The other part of being realistic is being honest that the items you have on your list are actually within your abilities to achieve. There’s no problem with wanting to earn a million dollars in a year – are you in a position to achieve this? Have you got a plan in place? How will you do this?

A want list is your starting point. Asking “what’s important?” helps you to then establish the priorities and identify the things that will make a difference for you and are realistic. Prioritising as an exercise is a helpful method for focusing on what is really important and where you are going to direct your time and energy to get the best results.

There is much more to creating the life you want, of course. This is one idea of many that might just prompt you to explore other strategies and ideas for how you can make changes or keep working on the things that you want in life.

©2008 Lesley Petersen

Author's Bio: 

Lesley has worked and taught in the personal development field for over 20 years. Her website Positively You™ offers you plenty more information, ideas and advice on strategies for identifying your priorities, acting on your values and belief system, how to create a positive, fulfilling life for yourself and much more. Positively You™ is a website about people and for people who want to improve their life and find solutions for their personal and professional lives.