Are YOU Your Top Priority?

This morning I am working at a local coffee house: my office away from home. Sitting across from me are four men enjoying a conversation about their priorities, their faith, and other meaningful life matters.  Any opportunity to listen to men discuss their feelings is interesting to me, so I’ll confess -- I’m eavesdropping! 

One of the gentlemen posed the question, “In order of importance, what are your priorities in life?” Here’s his friend’s response. Note the order of importance: 

“My wife, my kids, my parents, our home, and lastly, work.”

So where does HE fall in this list of priorities? Everyone and everything factors in, except him!

Sadly, this problem is all too familiar to me. Not only because I’ve been guilty of it myself, but because I see it in others all of the time. All too often busy people don’t include their personal needs and desires on their list of priorities. I find this particularly true for entrepreneurs. Sure, the entrepreneurial dream is a top priority, but business owners get mired in the day-to-day muck of running a business. Soon the dream fades to nothing but a list of daily demands. 

When one of my clients falls into this unhealthy pattern I say, ‘Put on your oxygen mask!’ Everyone knows what the flight attendants preach: if you don’t put your oxygen mask on first you will be of no help to your children or anyone around you. What would happen to all of these “priorities” if you were no longer here? Think of it as a form of insurance; if you take good care of yourself you will experience happiness and joy in your daily life. The vitalizing energy of these qualities will lead to higher levels of productivity, greater patience, lowered stress levels and more success!

It doesn’t have to be difficult; begin with these simple steps.

Achieve awareness
Do you feel like you’re neglecting yourself, yet you tell yourself it that bad? Make a list your self-care priorities. Now note the last time you allowed each one of these priorities into your daily activities. Shocking? Maybe. But you can change your habits so don’t worry.

Make a commitment
If you have five self-care priorities that haven’t been a part of your routine for a while, put them in order from most to least beneficial. Now take your top two priorities and block out time on your schedule to do them. But don’t set yourself up to fail.  

If exercise is a top priority and you’ve been out of the habit of going to the health club for some time, don’t expect an overnight change.  Go to the health club just to acclimate to the environment once again. Enjoy the pool, hot tub, or sauna instead of pushing yourself into an hour-long workout. 

Gradually build up to your goals. 

If your neglected priority is to see more of your close friends, don’t schedule weekly outings; go for a monthly outing in the beginning. The important thing is that you have fun!

Do a review
Put a monthly reminder in your calendar to do a little review of your progress.  Celebrate your successes, jot down some notes about how you feel about them. What has changed as a result? These changes don’t have to be monumental; if something simply brings more laughter into your life that’s a real achievement! 

You can do it! You’ve just fallen out of practice. Take it in bite-sized chunks and enjoy being you again!

Marla Tabaka is an entrepreneurial coach who inspires entrepreneurs around the world to attain what she calls, The Million-Dollar Mindset. As a result, many of her clients have achieved – even surpassed – the million dollar mark in annual revenues and are living the life of their dreams. In addition to running a thriving practice, Marla is a columnist for Inc. Magazine on-line, and hosts two international on-line radio shows, The Million Dollar Mindset and Million Dollar Mindset Tapping. Marla wrote this feature article exclusively for Debbie (, an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed. If you would like to consult with Marla to learn how she can help you grow your business and better your life, contact her at