Everything we do in life is about priorities, and it has to be. If we didn’t break everything down in order of importance I think our brains would explode from the effort of giving the same amount of energy to every single task. We prioritise work tasks, friends, family, weekend activities, alone time… pretty much everything. Sometimes though, it is hard to work out the priority order.
Should travel be your number one priority?
Not all of us can be travel bloggers who are paid to travel the world, some of us would never want to be. Finding a balance between your passions and necessary tasks can be hard. It is definitely something I have struggled with over the years. So often we find ourselves giving 90% of our energy to careers that don’t make us happy, and only 10% of energy to the activities that do. And careers and money are important, we have to live. It then becomes necessary to find other ways to balance the energy output.
Some people get up at 5 am to have one hour of ME time before their day starts. Others work hard all year, save up all of their leave in order to have a longer holiday. Others like to have lots of mini breaks or long weekends. However, you do it, doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are consciously making time for your passions. The things that make you genuinely happy.
For me, travel is a choice, something I have decided to prioritize above everything else. People have said that it’s easy for me as I don’t want a house and therefore, it’s not a priority. That isn’t true… I do want a house (who doesn’t) but I worked out that it isn’t AS of a high priority. The question then becomes, how do I determine if travel is a higher priority than owning a house right now?
How to determine what your number one priority is
Every year around New Years I sit down and complete the below task, it helps me to identify what my goals are, how they have changed from the previous year and most importantly – how to prioritize those goals!
To complete the below task it is vital that you are relaxed. I like to have a glass of wine… though I imagine hot chocolate may work just as well. Do whatever you need to do to be relaxed and open. If you prefer, sit on your couch in your PJs, or maybe you are most relaxed after a run – doesn’t matter, just make sure you are in a mindset of relaxation.
The second most important thing is, to be honest – with yourself. Step away from expectations and perceptions and look at every step honestly. This is genuinely the hardest part of this task. Genuine honesty generally is hard. In order to help me be open about MY OWN expectations and desires, I try to avoid social media for a day or so before. This way I am not clouded by either image of stunning beaches, engagement announcements, baby pictures or career promotions. The worst thing you can do is compare your life to others. Everyone has different dreams and needs, you only need to worry about satisfying your own.
Which is why I suggest drinking wine or hot chocolate… keeps me honest with myself.
The task to create your priority goal list in 10 minutes
- Drink wine/hot chocolate
- On a piece of paper write down all of the things you want to do in your life. Everything!! Including the crazy ideas, like sail around the world, move to Barcelona, run a marathon, win a chilli eating contest – everything! Write as many as you want, have 20 or 5, doesn’t matter. Write them down sporadically. Write some big, some small – scatter them across the page. Leave white spaces between each one.
- Look at all of your ideas, dreams, thoughts breaking through all of that white. Then drink more wine.
- Number each item from 1-10 – number 1 being your ultimate dream, the thing that when you see it written down in front of you, your heart yearns towards. The items that spark a small pit of fear and excitement in your stomach. It could be anything – big or small – this has nothing to do with achievability. This is the point where you need to be completely honest with yourself. Tune out all thoughts and feelings and listen only to instinct and your desire. Go with your gut, the item your mind instantly turns to. Don’t over think it.
- Drink more…
- Place a star next to the things you could do tomorrow without any more money (like applying for jobs, learning French).
- Put a money symbol next to the items that you can do with your current savings. Two money symbols next to the items that you will need 6 months to save for and 3 money symbols next to the items you will need a year to save for. If there are items that need more time to save for (like building a hostel, buying a Ferrari) then put a money symbol in a circle.
- Drink more wine/hot chocolate. Stand up – walk away from your paper. Do ten-star jumps. Shake out all of that energy and excitement. You may look like an idiot… who cares?!
- Look at your paper – find the task with the lowest number on it and with only one money symbol and a star. Start doing that tomorrow! This is your first achievable goal. Make it happen.
- Find the task with the lowest number and two or three money symbols on it – open a bank account for that one tomorrow. Put a huge chunk of your savings into it. Divert all funds, make sacrifices to increase how much goes into that account – nothing else matters. Check out this post on how to save for a trip to do this better.
- Find the task with the lowest number and a money symbol in a circle, open up another bank account and put a small sum into this each week. Even if it is only $20. Let it grow. Next year once you have achieved the immediate items and the items with two/three money symbols – maybe this item will be higher on the priority and achievable list.
- Drain the last of your glass.
Be satisfied with your travel priority, life is long
This is how I have worked out that my priority is to travel every year. When I look at the piece of paper, my heart yearns towards the travel item. And the thought of placing something else above it gives me anxiety. Being honest with yourself about your desires is so vitally important.
Yes, travel is my number one priority, but I also have a small fund for a house someday. It is slowly growing and, one day when I do this task it will be in the achievable zone. Until then I am planning my next adventure.
Hopefully, this little task helps you work out your goals in a positive and active way. After all, the only person who stops you from doing what you want is you – so take a step back and look at what needs to happen to live your dream.