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Priorities for Life

Most of us live lives that are constrained by available time and money so we have to decide how to ration these limited resources.

At each stage of our lives we have different priorities. I never thought about them much, but they were always there, though often jumbled. I wish someone had sat me down at an early age and made me prioritize them in writing because I think it would have helped me to make wiser spontaneous decisions at critical moments.

A primary teacher started this by giving me three, in this order:
1. religion
2. school work
3. sport (that Catholic school was football crazy)

As a teenager, new interests came along and I gave myself some additional priorities – listed in no particular order because that kept changing. This is when I most needed a priority list because time and money (and common sense) were scarce.

family (parents and siblings)
sex (well at least dealing with hormones, and social interaction with girls)
surfing and sailing (growing up in a beach culture)
cars and motorbikes ( a big thing in the teen culture of the time)
science and history(I was fascinated)
music (playing an instrument)
food (adapting to foreign cooking: Asian,Mexican, Italian etc)

With maturity came some more priorities and interests, and some old ones had gone. Making lots of money was never prominent for me because by the time I was independent I had enough to do my top priorities.
Now the order was more like:

1 health and fitness
2 college education
3 military service and patriotism
4 wife/partner
5 children
6 business development
7 personal professional development
8 home
9 recreation and holidays
10 cars
11 pets
12 hobbies
13 Arts and cultural pursuits (literature, theater, music and performances, visual arts)
14 history
15 following politics, the economy, news and current affairs.

Now, late in life and with most of the hurdles jumped and goals more or less achieved, my priorities have narrowed down again:

1 partner
2 financial security
3 children and grand children
4 health
5 old friends
5 comfortable home
6 charity
7 reflecting on life (history, politics, priorities, and missed opportunities)

Did I miss anything important?
Do you think my ordering was appropriate?
Would such a list have helped you?

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Information This article was edited after publication by the author on 28 Mar 2009. View changes.
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The Juggler by gnifyus

I’m remembering a message I heard a while ago. It was actually part of a sermon, but I like the visual analogy used for describing priorities. The image was of a person juggling many balls. When you are juggling, it is inevitable that some of the balls will occasionally drop. This is O.K. because most of the balls are made of rubber and will bounce back. But, the speaker cautioned, “There are two balls that you must not drop. Drop any other ball except these two because they are made of glass. The glass balls represent your health and your family. Everything else can be recovered eventually, but once these two are shattered you will never get them back.”

I was glad to see these two things played prominently in the phases of your life. It’s interesting (but obvious) to notice “health” was not a concern in the early years, but takes a greater importance as time goes on.

I think there’s another ball, a “friends ball” not quite as breakable as glass, but equally important.

I’m in your second to last phase right now, though certain details vary.

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