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How To Prioritise Goals

Posted in Psychology

prioritise goals
Understand how to prioritise goals.

This article is part of the goal setting theme for January. See also: The Liberating Distinction Between Hopes And Dreams and Find Your Life’s Purpose, Follow Your Heart’s Desire.

The aim of January’s theme is to shift the mental perspective on goal setting. First by highlighting the importance of separating fulfilment from the attainment of goals. Second, by highlighting the distinction between inner purpose and outer purpose.

Understanding the difference between being and doing is crucial in helping to prioritise goals, to set goals that follow your heart’s desire and focus your attention on each step, not just the end of the journey.

If you need a refresher, follow the links above. But now, on to the nitty gritty. How do you prioritise goals? There are a few factors to explore: making sure your goals are in sync with your inner purpose, working on self-compassion as you follow your goals, and understanding the most important priority of all — you.

Two Horizons And The Ultimate Goal

I mention Martin Amor’s and Alex Pellew’s Two Horizons model in The Liberating Distinction Between Hopes And Dreams. When used in the right way, this model can become a valuable tool in goal setting.

The concept of the near horizon and far-off horizon is fundamental in prioritising goals. As well as helping keep a clear understanding of what your ultimate dream is, it also helps bring your immediate goals into focus. This, in turn, is great for motivation.

Two Horizons
The Two Horizons model for goal setting.

The beauty is, the Two Horizons model can be transformed, turning far-off dreams into manageable tasks that you can begin, today. This transformation is straightforward. Start by dreaming. Then boil the essence of the dream into multiple goals. Finally, break those goals into smaller, manageable tasks.

This way of organising goals can be represented by the “pyramid of goals.”

The Pyramid Of Goals

Your dream is the ultimate goal. It’s the top of the “pyramid of goals.” Working back requires looking at the structure of the pyramid. At the top, the dream is a combination mid-term goals. Each mid-term goals is a combination of short-term goals. Each short-term goal is a combination of tasks that can be acted upon directly.

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Applying this on a basic level to Mind That Ego looks like:

  • Top of the pyramid (ultimate goal): My own Life Coaching business.
  • Middle of the pyramid (mid-term goals): Establish Mind That Ego as a brand, fronted by yours truly, consisting of written and video-based content. Learn coaching practices.
  • Bottom of the pyramid (short-term goals): Complete Life Coaching courses. Work on video editing skills. Improve writing. Read. Think of ideas for blog posts and videos. Produce content.

All levels of the pyramid need each other. You can’t achieve the ultimate goal without mid-term and short-term goals. At the same time, short-term goals are dictated by mid-term and ultimate goals.

The different levels of the pyramid also help goals remain manageable. Setting one goal (start a Life Coaching business) with a deadline is a recipe for stress and lack of direction. But by fragmenting the ultimate goal into mid-term and short-term goals, day-to-day priorities begin to order themselves. These small steps can have realistic deadlines attached to them.

For example: this articles belongs to January’s theme and it’s the 31st of January today, so I MUST FINISH THIS BLOG POST TODAY!!

But if I gave myself the task of building a brand in a few months time, the size of the goal would seem daunting, I’d struggle knowing where to start, and I’d struggle to set realistic deadlines. Writing a blog post today wouldn’t necessarily appear to be a priority.

Prioritise Goals In Different Life Categories

This ultimate goal example above is linked to career, but the Two Horizons model applies to all area of your life. So dream big.

By having dreams in different areas — such as financial, self-improvement, relationships, fitness, hobbies, and so on — you’ll eventually have multiple pyramids, each with their own ultimate goal, mid-term goals and short-term goals.

This where prioritising day-to-day tasks is required. Sometimes this is self-explanatory; if I receive a bill in the post that requires immediate payment, this financial goal takes priority over a blog post that can be written another day (career goal). Other times there may be multiple goals that appear to have the same urgency and the same importance. What then?

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This is where you can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. How long will the goal take? Are there areas of your life that currently feel neglected? Does the goal include other people? Is there a goal playing on your mind more than others, causing you to procrastinate? Which goal will be most fulfilling to begin? Which goal are you putting off the most, and why?

Psst: Once you’ve established your ultimate dream and whittled down the short-term goals, use Mind That Ego’s motivation model to keep you moving ahead on days where motivation is sparse.

Self-Care, Self-Compassion, And Prioritising You

It can be easy to get swept up in our goals, of feeling we aren’t good enough, or that achieving goals and improving ourselves is the only way we’ll find happiness.

Self-care and self-compassion are vital while pursuing our dreams. If we see our goals as something we simply have to get done, then we’ll end up feeling stressed as we desperately try to achieve them, despondent if we aren’t, or hopeless if mid-term goals appear too daunting.

To combat this, make self-care an important aspect of your goal setting. Set yourself a goal of taking more time to relax. Set goals from a place of self-compassion. Make sure you put enough time aside to follow your passions, to do things you enjoy or help you relax. Which leads me on to my final point…

If you can’t make yourself a priority, you’re going to struggle to prioritise goals. Why? Because if you see yourself as secondary to those around you, why would put your goals ahead of other’s needs and desires?

Prioritising yourself requires self-care, self-compassion, and a healthy dose of discipline. It’ll mean saying no, sometimes more than yes. But this is far from selfish. In fact, it has the opposite effect; by investing in yourself, you’ll be in a much better place to offer yourself to others. And you’ll be working towards your dream in the process.

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