priority pole

At the time I’m writing this, we’re just days away from Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s Eve. If you’ve managed not to get sucked into holiday madness, good for you. I can see your Self energy from over here. That’s great.

If you’re feeling a little – or a lot – off balance, you’re in good company. Most of us find it hard to stay in balance at holiday time. Disrupted routines, family visits, and holiday gatherings mean we’re all trying to do more with less time.

You’re a tightrope walker who’s starting to wobble! But what do good tightrope walkers use to stay in balance? A pole.

You can stay in life balance with a priority pole.

If everything is a priority, then nothing’s a priority

A big part of staying in life balance is understanding your priorities.

  1. The first step is to identify what your priorities are.
  2. The second step is to prioritize the priorities.

It sounds silly, but it’s that 2nd step that people forget. Not all of your priorities have equal importance.

That’s where the idea of the Priority Pole comes in. Imagine you have a cardboard tube like the one inside a roll of wrapping paper. If you stand it up next to you, there’s a top and there’s a bottom.

priority pole

Now imagine you had to glue your priorities to the pole. The most important ones are at the top and the least important are at the bottom.

What gets put on the top?

In the middle?

On the bottom?

Now I want you to do the same visualization exercise, but this time, glue the priorities in their real order – based on where you really spend your time.

For example, maybe in your first go you put “family” right at the top of the pole. But when you look at how you really spend your time, maybe “work” is actually at the top because you spend so much of your time and energy on it.

Hmm, no wonder you feel so off-balance.

How do we get so out of balance in our priorities and our lives?

How do we end up here? I could point out again the busyness of the holidays, but I want to offer a deeper reason.

Getting pulled off-balance happens when you haven’t:

  • Remembered to bring yourself along
  • Been interested or caring toward yourself
  • Taken the time to do the things you love
  • Paused for reading, reflection, meditation, or relaxation

Sometimes being so busy is just code for the above. But we don’t like to say we didn’t take the time to care for ourselves, so we say we’ve been busy.

You’ve lost sight of your priority pole when you’re off your path. Or maybe you never took the time to know the important order of your priorities.

Exercise: make your very own priority pole

Earlier I talked about visualizing your priority pole. This visualization was meant to be a quick gut check to see if you felt off balance.

If you really had to get out your markers, construction paper, and glue to create a priority pole, where would you start?

Wait a minute! Not so fast. Were you really going to create your priority pole without consulting all of your parts?

First, consult with all of your parts at the Meeting Place

You want to use the technique of the Meeting Place to solicit input from all of your parts about their priorities.

Imagine the priorities of these very different parts:

If Bob is holding the priority pole, he’ll want very different things than Penelope or Deborah. That’s why it’s important to let Self have the final say. But first, all of your parts need a chance to speak.

Does that sound scary? Letting your impatient, angry, lethargic parts have a say?

It is not scary as long as you are fully seated in Self before you hold the meeting (if you’re not sure how to do that, download my free meditation about meeting a strong part of you).

Remember: all of your parts have good intentions for you. They want to help you! Even the powerless and impatient parts. They have information to share with you and you can learn a lot by listening to them.

Your parts give you signals “Hey you, pay attention to this!” If you’re not really in touch with your parts, they have to get extreme to get your attention. You get blended with them and that’s what doesn’t feel good. But knowing and understanding these parts and giving them your Self energy will help them trust you more.

After you hold the meeting, it’s time to make your priority pole

The energy you feel inside can be so good after the Meeting Place. You will feel all 8 qualities of Self flowing through you: Calm, Compassion, Curiosity, Courage, Creativity, Connection, Confidence, and Clarity.

I encourage you to draw on your Creativity especially for this exercise. Let your parts have some fun with it! It will make it much easier when the time comes to get out your priority pole and determine where a friend’s request or new job offer falls on the pole.


Image credits

Early morning tightrope walk across a lake” by Flickr user Noel Reynolds is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Udo placing a balloon on a tube” by Flickr user Juhan Sonin is licensed under CC BY 2.0.