As you transition through your seasons of life, how can you readjust your priorities? Mary Tomlinson, coach, speaker, and author of Wholehearted Purpose – Women Discovering Their One-Of-A-Kind Design, shares how to keep focused on what is most important.
4word: Last month, we talked all about “purpose.” How does purpose tie in with priorities?
Mary: Purpose answers the question, “Why do I exist?” By knowing our purpose, we can use it as a filter to determine our highest and most On-Purpose priorities. We all know that some things are on-purpose for us and some things are off-purpose.
Although our purpose does not change (purpose is how God uniquely designed and knit us together in our Mother’s womb – Psalm 139), our priorities definitely change from season to season. When my kids were little and I was working, my priorities were much different than they are today with work and grandchildren.
Putting our decisions through a filter are key to ensuring that I am living on-purpose and in my top priorities, asking:
1. Which of my choices is most on-purpose for me right now?
2. Which of my choices is most important for me right now?
I marvel at the fact that Jesus was clear about His purpose while He was on earth, and even when there were interruptions in His days He stayed true to each purpose. I pray that we can be as gracious even when our “plans and priorities” get interrupted.
4word: Have you struggled with priorities in your life?
Mary: You bet! Depending on the season of life, there’s always the tug of multiple questions such as:
- What’s most important for me to be focusing on right NOW?
- What SHOULD I be doing?
- Should I do more of this or less of that?
- Am I spending enough time on self-care to fill up my own bucket so I can give more to others or am I always the last one I care for?
Whether it was early in my career, newly married, raising children as a working mom, leaving an executive job at Disney to start my own business, building my business in the tough early years, making a move to NC from Florida, or managing my business and caring for grandchildren – there’s ALWAYS the question of “what are my priorities RIGHT NOW”?
There have been many times when I did not define my priorities well and the result was that no matter what I was doing, I felt like I should be doing something else. The Lord has been teaching me to ask the following questions to identify whether I am living in His abundant life and according to my (and His) highest priorities:
- Am I striving or abiding?
- Do I feel pressure or peace?
- Am I driving or following?
These are convicting questions for me and I find that when I am in the striving, pressure, and driving place, I do not have my priorities in correct alignment. I know it’s time to go back to the Lord and recalibrate my life according to His highest current priorities for me.
4word: What is the difference between “balance” and “integration,” and which is better?
Mary: There’s a lot of talk about balance and trying to “balance our life.” But when you think about balance, there’s an inherent tension associated with it. Think of balancing plates or books – there’s tension. And I don’t think any of us need any more “tension” in our lives trying to balance – it’s exhausting!
Integration, on the other hand, is taking all my life categories and integrating them together. One of the ways we illustrate this in our coaching is by completing an hour by hour “my perfect on-purpose day.” What would a perfect day for me look like if I were to integrate the different aspects of my life within the 24 hours God gives us? I could schedule time for sleep, prayer, family, exercise, work and friends – making sure that I don’t leave important priorities subject to the leftover time – which might never come.
We know that not every day goes perfectly according to plan, but I have a better chance if I am intentional and a little more scheduled about my day rather than being totally reactive. Perhaps I get up 30 minutes earlier to ensure that I have my quiet time or schedule a standing meeting with myself for self-care. Without intentionality, I find I can waste a lot of time.
4word: What would you say is the first step everyone should take when sitting down to set priorities?
Mary: First, give yourself grace. Acknowledge that your life is full and there is much you would like to do to care for others.
Second, take some time to really think through what you want and to choose what is most important right now. What’s most important in the area of your work, your family, your health, and your spiritual life right now? Take time to reflect and breathe. Just like on a flight, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.
I love the saying, “We lose our way because we lose our why.” It gets back to knowing our purpose on this earth. God never intended us to be all things to all people, but to live out the unique “wonderfully made” purpose He created us to be.
I am grateful that although our priorities will constantly change, He is unchangeable. Our goal, no matter what we do, is to bring Him honor and praise and a joy-filled heart which should always be our top priority.
Do you want help determining your purpose and the “priorities” in your life right now? As a 4word reader, you are able to download a free copy of Mary’s book, Wholehearted Purpose – Women Discovering their One-Of-A-Kind Design.
Free copies will only be available on October 9 and 10, 2017,
so click here now to download yours!
Mary Tomlinson is a consultant, speaker, coach and facilitator with a passion for transformational change. Her company On-Purpose Partners specializes in organizational culture, customer service, team building, leadership development – and personal coaching to be On-Purpose!
She spent 18 years as an executive with the Walt Disney Company as a:
- Marketing Brand Director developing strategies for Disney resorts and theme parks.
- Business Director of Disney’s Ad Agency managing 5,000 projects; $130 million budget.
- Director of the Disney Institute Resort leading 800 employees; 100 training programs and a $65 million budget.
As an author, she has published a variety of articles and her first book was Facilitation Made Easy in 2015. Her second book released spring of 2017 is Wholehearted Purpose – Women Discovering Their One-Of-A-Kind Design.
She is a keynote speaker for the Women Doing Well national conferences – Igniting Generous Joy and founder of the Professional Christian Women’s Group in Raleigh.
She lives in Wake Forest with her “fabulous” husband of 39 years. She adores her two grown children and 4 grandchildren.