If one considers the New Year a time to review, refresh, and renew goals for the new year, then it is about prioritizing the many things we want to accomplish. I often use the body, mind, spirit, and relationships framing to determine what needs to be considered. It could be about eating better or getting more exercise. It could be about learning something new or starting a new study. It could be about spending more 'me' time, meditating, or stopping to smell the roses more often. It could be a concerted effort to build new or better relations with others. Wherever I decide to focus, I need a way to sort the most important ones to take on because if I am diligent in making a list, it will probably not be just one or two items. And as I well know, the longer the list the greater likelihood few will be accomplished -- it will be overwhelming!
Here is what I have found useful in prioritizing lists when many of the items are closely important.
1) In your sorting, you may have several groups of goals (just like the body, mind, etc. segments suggested above). If so, just take each group separately to prioritize; 2) Use whatever usual method you have to sort the items -- by urgency, cost, difficulty, duration or time to completion, or requires help from others; 3) Once you have a general priority with a group of items bunched up as priorities, then do the following to 'break apart' what may appear to be equal priorities. NOTE: There are absolutely no equal priorities. It is this premise by which we can separate equal priorities into first- and second-place priorities!
Separating 'equal' priorities:
1) With the two 'equal' priorities, you will ask a set of questions and then answer the questions. (This approach works equally well with more than two 'equal' priorities.) 2) Make the assumption you will act on Priority-#1 and ask the set of questions (below), plus score your answers. When done, you will ask the identical questions with Priority-#2 and likewise score your answers. When you compare the scores of the two Priorities, you will find that the final numerical results will not be identical. You have moved toward a clear prioritization, objectively!
Two Questions to Separate equal Priorities:
#1) Assume you moved on the Priority, will this provide you incremental (step-wise) or transformational (a leap) improvement in your business/personal needs? Score it from 1-10 (1=not much; 10=world changing). If the Priority is complex with many facets, you may need to break out the major components to ask the question. Then score each of the separate components.
#2) Assume you did not move on the Priority, what would be the implications to your personal/business needs? Score it from 1-10. Note that you can list any number of implications to score, that include, on the business side, impact (+/-) on human resources, teamwork, customers, morale, processes, equipment purchases, and finances. On the personal side, the implications might be: helps make a decision, advances my career, or brings clarity to the issue. Notice that as you ask questions around each Priority, there are now additional nuances with each Priority that allows you to better sort.
Score the 'equal' Priorities:
1) In scoring the Priorities, use two scores. OK, you have to score each twice! One score is how desirable is it for you. The second score would be what is the likelihood this Priority will impact your personal/business goals positively or negatively.
2) Line up the scores and decide which Priority has the highest positive scores. You now have separated what appeared initially as equal priorities. It takes a little time, but worth it to get clarity on your priorities. Besides, it's a fun and revealing look at your priorities and gives you greater understanding of them. That, in itself, is moving you forward and should make the effort worthwhile!!
© Dr. Baldwin H. Tom CMC, FIMC