My men’s small group were deep in discussion around priorities and how we make key decisions. I jumped in with the following challenge: “List the five things you consider most important in life. I’m talking about things like family, faith, and staying healthy. Try to include at least five.”
We talked about what came up, especially the items that kept repeating. Then I asked them to list the reality that takes up the majority of their time (other than sleep). Answers included things like work, television, chores, and chauffeuring the kids.
We talked about the frustration that comes with our daily life not matching our priorities. We enjoyed a great discussion about how we might get the lists lined up. Make your own list and see if yours lines up. Below are our lists and the steps to take in order to live out your priorities in real life daily.
Our Five Top-rating Priorities (in no particular order):
- Helping others (family, church, community)
The Five Areas of Time Commitment (by hours invested):
- Watch television
- Deal with problems/issues
- Cook and clean (yes, dads do cook and clean!)
Here are 4 steps to making your priorities match your daily life:
First, we can – we must – have the conversation. The men in my group have found that simply talking about the tension between our priorities and the reality we live tends to correlate with positive change. We also found that including our spouse in the conversation really helps too. In other words, honest awareness can be half the solution. The fact is, life is short so don’t waste any time.
2. Action Plan.
Then, we discovered that action plans are effective. When we develop short and long term plans – intentionally working toward specific goals, moving forward incrementally, paying attention to even small changes, and celebrating success along the way – then success seems more reachable.
3. Support System.
Most importantly, we need mutual support. We must live in a supportive community, and not be afraid to ask one another for help. We need one another. Guys need other solid guys for mutual encouragement, and men tend to respond well to positive peer pressure. When we surround ourselves with other families who share the same commitment to pay more attention to what really matters, change becomes more attainable.
It helps when we think about making the commitment to positive lifestyle transitions as a family. One man, for example, asked his wife to help him follow through spending more time with the children. Together, he and his spouse worked out a plan. Success requires humility, commitment, community, and accountability. It became much easier still when he recruited two other guys from church to share some of the same goals. Play dates with other dads; encouragement and praise from the moms. “My golf game’s deteriorating,” Ralph said, “but my relationship with my kids has never been better.” Change is always more possible when we do it together.
SOUND OFF: How do you match your priorities with what you do day to day?