Choosing Your Priorities For Success

Think Success by Jayaram V

by Jayaram V

Source: This essay was originally published in the book “Think Success, Essays on Self-help” by Jayaram V under the same title, “The Priority Areas of Life," and reproduced with publisher's permission.


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Life is complex. There are many aspects of your life which require your time and attention. With limited time and resources available to you, it is impossible to pay attention to everything that goes on in your life. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on certain areas and work on them to improve the quality of your life and your chances of success. Have you ever wondered to which aspects of your life you should pay maximum attention and consider them your priorities? From my study of successful people, I have identified the following eight priority areas, where I believe one should focus to achieve balance, harmony, success and happiness.

  1. Health
  2. Career
  3.  Family
  4. The Wider World
  5.  Your Finances
  6.  Relationships
  7. Your Thoughts
  8.  Spiritual Life

Health

Your health is important in your life. It contributes to success, happiness, and fulfillment. One should be healthy not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. It means one cannot ignore the importance of discipline, values and clean habits. Good health depends upon a combination of genetic, personal and environmental factors. It is sustained by lifestyle choices, positive thinking, healthy habits and self-control. If you are in good health, you will have the added advantage to work for your goals with focus, perseverance, energy and enthusiasm. It saves you money, energy and peace of mind. In this regard your own habits, attitude and personal hygiene play an important role. 

Many people neglect their health in the pursuit of success or just take it for granted. It is not a good choice. You should give priority to your health and health matters. It becomes even more important as you age and grow and as your body loses the ability to rebuild and regenerate. Good health is more important than material wealth because without health you cannot enjoy life. Hence, pay attention to your health and keep track of the changes that happen in your body.

Career

Career is what you do out of interest or for your livelihood and survival. It may be a job, some business or professional activity or an artistic effort, which you may pursue. For most people it is their main occupation, which keeps them busy and consumes their time, energy and resources. The career you choose is important because it defines and adds to your identity. Your status, self-esteem, wealth, level of satisfaction, relationships and recognition in society depend upon it. Depending upon which career you choose and how seriously you pursue it, you become rich or poor, a winner or a loser, successful or unsuccessful, and happy or unhappy. Most of us spend our lives in pursuit of success and happiness through our careers. Some people over do it and pay dearly for it. You cannot make your career a substitute for your life. It may bring you wealth and success, but it does not contribute to your relationships or inner happiness unless are not balanced and careful. The workplace is not an ideal place to look for relationships. It is a place where you compete with others and where your success may not be appreciated genuinely by all. Yet, your career is an important part of your life. You have to pay attention to your career goals and build your career to achieve excellence, without ignoring your relationships and self-actualization need.

Family

Studies show that the early development of children is influenced by the attention they receive from not only their parents but also others who frequently interact with them. Having more people around and interacting with them make the babies feel more assured and comfortable. Those who are deprived of touch and feel sensations and who do not get enough attention in the first few months of their lives develop emotional problems at a later stage. In this the family plays an important role. Thus, from childhood, family plays a crucial role in our lives providing us with numerous opportunities to experience the feelings of being loved, cared for, nurtured and assured. It is where we learn our social skills and the dynamics of human behavior and relationships. It also serves as our sanctuary. When we are hurt, defeated or depressed, we turn to our families for advice, solace, and comfort. Since your family is crucial for your happiness, it is important that you make your family part of your success. Some people ignore their families as they become successful and busy. It may lead to problems. Make your family a part of your success journey. Let them share the fruits of your achievements. Spend quality time with them and make them feel part of your life. It will keep you and your family happy and strengthen your relationship with them.

Your finances

Money may not make everyone happy, but it is essential for our wellbeing. For many, success means having a lot of money. The world is ambivalent towards wealth. Money is scorned in spiritual circles, but venerated by the public. Many believe that poverty is a virtue and wealth is a trap. Yet, we all know in our hearts how important wealth is and what misery poverty can bring. Our attitude towards wealth becomes reflected in our lives. If you feel negative about money or wealthy people you may not manifest much wealth in your life. The same is the case with self-limiting thoughts about money, which lower your expectations and your earning potential. You must believe that you deserve wealth and you are ready for it. You must use strengths, since they are your natural wealth, as your resources to create wealth. Wealth is created not only by earning but also by saving. A high income does not necessarily lead to creation of wealth. You must manage your expenses wisely and save. If you want to borrow, it should be for productive purposes. Whatever you do, keep your future in mind. If you save more in the first half of your life, you will be more comfortable with your finances in your retirement. Increase your income and accumulate wealth, investing on a long term basis and overcoming your self-limiting thoughts. Make sure that you fulfill your family obligations and do not leave those in dark who depend upon you. 

Relationships

Success is not achieved by your efforts alone. It needs the active cooperation and contribution of others. You may achieve excellence in your education, but would it be possible without the help of your teachers, parents, and those who encouraged you and motivated you? The so called self-made success in anyone's case is not possible without the involvement and contribution of countless people, who include your family, friends, colleagues, business partners, employees, government, and even unknown people you might have never met. Think of those who maintain law and order, who keep the roads clean, who ensure your water supply, and who pick your garbage. They perform their duties to let you focus on your work. Also think of those who make available to you the finished products that you purchase in a store. You might have never met them, but they help you to enjoy the comforts of life and keep yourself nourished.  Different people thus play a significant role in your life. They help you to concentrate on your work and live in peace and happiness. They also help you negatively by criticizing you, opposing you and challenging you, teaching in the process valuable lessons about friendship and enmity. Your relationship with yourself is also important because it determines your overall happiness, attitude and emotional wellbeing. You will not establish positive relationships with others, if you do not feel good about yourself. You will not accept others if you do not accept yourself unconditionally. Therefore, examine your feelings about yourself and resolve them to improve your social skills and establish healthy and positive relationships in your life.

Your thoughts

Your reality is shaped by you. Your thoughts and actions produce consequences and precipitate reality. There is no exaggeration in saying that we reap what we sow and realize what we think and deeply desire. You create your future through your thoughts, beliefs and actions. The one thing that may throw a spanner in this process is a random event or an act of God. You manifest your hopes and aspirations as well as your fears and doubts according to your attitudes and beliefs. If you are undecided and feeling helpless, it may be because you are stuck. If we are motivated and inspired, we persevere and make progress. Your life is thus mostly your creation. Your mind constantly churns out thoughts, which manifest reality. If you want to know where you are heading in your life, spend some time observing your thoughts to know where your attention is and what consumes you most of the time. If you do not have goals and if you do not feel passionate about anything, very likely you will be leading an aimless life. To mold your life, you have to control your thoughts first. If you want to be a different person, you have to change your thoughts right now. You can change the course of your life, by changing the way you think about people and things. You achieve success when you direct your thoughts in the direction of your persistent desires. Your dominant thoughts manifest always. Therefore, reinforce your mind with positive thoughts about your goals. Think positively about your abilities and self-worth, so that you can remain focused and confident about reaching your cherished dreams. Surround yourself with things and people, who keep your mind in a positive state of mind and encourage you to work for our goals. Read books about inspiration to remain motivated. Practice meditation to improve your thinking, understanding and mental clarity, so that you can envision your future clearly. Become a creator of your life by empowering your thoughts with vision and purpose.

The wider world

The world very much lives inside us. It grows in strength as we grow older. The world inside us draws us out into the world outside. We begin to chase our dreams in the world we see. Until you become a perfect adept, the world never leaves you. Although, we all seem to be independent beings, we are interdependent and cannot live without the world. Our seemingly independent and isolated actions affect others in countless ways. A cyclone or a hurricane may hit a faraway place, but the ripples it creates touch all of us in due course. Slowly and steadily individual actions contribute to life upon earth both positively and negatively. If a majority of us indulge in destructive thinking, chaos will spread in the world. If we make the world a difficult place to live through our collective actions, we will have to share the consequences of such actions. It is imperative that you will not willfully cause harm or hurt to others or take away what does not truly belong to you. You may not be immediately haunted by negative actions of your past, but the world keeps its count and settles the balance. If there is only one pond in a village and it is the only source of water, everyone has to keep that water pure. The world is the only lake we have. We have to keep it pure. When we share the resources of the earth, we have a responsibility to keep it clean and balanced. Since the world gives us so much, we have to keep it free from evil and maintain peace and harmony. Through acts of kindness, generosity, understanding and compassion we should reach out to others and strengthen the interconnectedness of the world. By knowing how the world contributes to our welfare and happiness, we can transcend our selfishness make the world a better place to live.

Spiritual life

Material wealth is important. At the same time spiritual wealth is also equally important. One is for the mind and body and the other for the soul. We have a right to enjoy the riches of the universe, but we should not do it at the expense of our spiritual wellbeing or others. Material wealth satisfies our need for comfort and happiness, but true fulfillment comes only when we realize our spiritual nature and final purpose. Spiritual life contributes to increased self-awareness and self-knowledge, which make people feel more responsible towards themselves and others and accept life in its totality. People who pursue spiritual aims look at life in a wider framework by transcending their individuality and seeing the whole creation as one. As their vision widens, they transcend their egoism and selfishness and accept life as an opportunity to learn and grow.  Materialism and spiritualism together make life complete. A person who practices both finds no contradictions in their ultimate aims. Both are meant to help us to grow and increase our knowledge and wisdom, without soiling our hands. It is difficult to purse self-actualization needs when the basic needs are not met, or practice meditation when one is hungry and miserable. We grow towards light and wisdom in stages, learning our lessons and resolving our problems and setbacks. In all this you should not ignore your spiritual responsibilities or your higher nature. Do not degrade yourself or others thinking that humans are just animals. It is your frame of reference which guides your destiny. Aim for balance in your life and know that your deepest aspirations are your soul's aspirations.

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