How Knowing Your Priorities Help You Make Brave Work/Life Choices

How to save time and energy at decision-making time

Know your priorities before they are questioned
••• Getty Images/Scott Stulberg

Previously, we covered how knowing your values can help you make brave work/life choices and we covered what brave work/life choices were all about.  Now we will focus on how your priorities can help you even further.  You'll feel even more confident in your choice plus save time and energy during the decision-making process.  

Keep Your Priorities Straight

What are the important things you need to do today, tomorrow, this week, this month, and this year?  Does this sound like goal setting?  Why yes, in a way, it is.  Every day you set out to accomplish something, right?.  You have control over the outcome when you set your mind to it because when you intentionally set out to do something, you usually do it.

Every day, write down your top three priorities for the day.  They may be as simple as, get everyone where they need to be, do my work, get everyone home.  You have a choice, though, to go further than this such as make a healthy breakfast everyone will enjoy before they leave, finish a major task at work, take a bath to end the day.  Now we're talking!  Keep your priorities straight by writing in a journal

How Priorities Give You the Strength You Need to Make Brave Work/Life Choices

When you have your professional and personal priorities already determined it allows you to make brave work/life choices.  You already have your mind made up about what is important to you, your family, and your career.  You know what you want and have goals in place to get where you want to go.  You have a game plan.  Having your priorities set help speed the decision-making process which saves you time and energy.

When you need to make a brave work/life choice think about what your priorities are.  Does this decision distract you from your priorities?  Or does it bring you one step closer to your goal?  How will deciding for this choice affect your priorities in the months to come?  

How to Decide Between Taking Care of a Sick Child and an Important Work Project

Let's put the values and priorities theory to a test.

Yes, it would be great if your children were your number one priority all the time, and in a sense they are, but there will be times when you need to make an exception. 

There's no easy answer to what is more important, your sick child or work.  This is where the “brave” part comes in.  But we can ask some questions that may clear things up and help make the decision-making process quicker. 

First, take out your list of values and priorities.  Next, go through these questions one at a time.  Make up your mind about the question before moving on to the next.  Let's assume that family is one of your top values.

  1. How sick is your child, really.  They may be breaking your heart with their pleas, but put things into perspective.  Do they have a fever?  Have they been throwing up all night?  How severe are their symptoms?  Start writing down your answers in case you need to go to the pediatrician.
  2. Do you need to stay home with your child or is there someone within your support system you can call?  (Tip:  It’s great to have people in your support system who know they are the ones you’ll call when you need backup childcare!)
  1. Does your child need to go to the doctor?  If so, can you bring them or could someone else? 
  2. If you take them to the doctor will you stay home with them afterwards or could someone come and stay with them and you return to work?
  3. If you can’t return to work, can you work from home to continue your work on the project?

Speaking of the project, let's address it:

  1. Your career is a top priority, but does the project go well with your professional values?  Just how important is this project to you and to your career?
  2. Is there anyone else at work that can step up and help you out in your time of need?  You may feel like only you can manage this project, but is this the truth?  Could someone else substitute in your absence?
  3. Does you manager know your values and/or your work-related priorities?  Do you know theirs?
  4. If you choose your project, how will you feel after the decision has been made?
  1. If you look back 10 years from now, will this project be as important as it is today?


When you've answered each of these questions truthfully you are almost ready to make your decision.  This is when you need to be brave.  You need to act like an adult, make your decision, then go with it, without looking back.  If you spend time feel indecisive it'll set you back and you'll start this process all over again.  You can't afford the time and energy on this.  Be brave, working mom, and make the choice you know goes along with your personal and professional values and priorities.  You can do it!