Making Your Values Clear

Lollipop moments are those small (yet significant) interactions in your daily activity that changed your life or changed something about you or your perception in a big way. My lollipop moment was my first-day attending classes at Temple University. At the end of my Communicating Leadership class, Tracey Weiss, the professor, stopped everyone from packing up and said, “If anyone in life has a hard time making decisions, it’s because your values are not clear to you.” That was gold to me. Here I am in my dream school, finally fully active in the PR industry, but have trouble making decisions and setting order all of the time! The irony; this is what my job is all about. I instantly knew this problem was an easy fix because — me thinking defensively, I knew for a fact that my values were pretty clear. But, if this were the truth, I wouldn’t be such a crazy prioritizer. Prioritizing is mandatory, but what if everything is equally important and equally begging for your time? I’m still practicing it all, but here are my tips to achieve prioritization like a pro.

Before attempting to set order, think of what all of your biggest desires in life, a.k.a. values are. For most, it may be their career, family, peace, or school. Within those values, some goals are naturally attached. Some of which could be getting a better working space, (a new office); making a happy environment in their home, (quality family time); setting aside more time for self-reflection and creative thinking, (gaining peace); or even achieving experience in their field of study, (a good internship).

It usually isn’t one of these goals working on a person at once because we are all multi-faceted humans. We all have multiple hats to wear. It’s normal to be a student, employee, daughter, mother, mentor, and entrepreneur all at one time. This makes it hard to understand that we have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé.

First thing when prioritizing, make sure it’s “your” plan and not someone else’s. Put things at the top of your physical (recommended) or mental list that builds on your progression to your goals in line with your values. Because our personalities come into play with daily life, it’s easy for someone who has a niche in being helpful to believe that assisting 100 people a day is getting things done! This is fine only if you can also help yourself times 100. Don’t give up on those other people, but you cannot pour from an empty cup, my friend!

Now this one is tricky, always do things immediately that will only take a second to complete. My argument and suggestion are to prioritize progress instead. There are always small things to get done, and one can actually spend a whole day doing the little things, then look up and realize the tasks that get you to a milestone we’re never started. 

That brings me into recognizing false emergencies. For example, being a publicist, people always need to talk, and everyone wants instant responses (i.e., emails, texts, phone calls). Yes, the sooner things are done — the better. If your agenda is already full of quality tasks, instead of executing everything that people throw at you on a whim to satisfy their values, think of the bigger picture, and if that requires you to question people, then do so: “Can this phone call wait until tomorrow?” “If I stay up all night to complete this document, will it be filed tonight?” “If I don’t take my sister to the mall today, will her brain explode?” If the answer is no to questions like this, let your solution be to notify the other person with complete honesty, recognizing how important this is but you will handle it (if you choose to) as soon as you can. Saying “no” can feel harsh, but being truthful is most helpful for both parties.

Continue to move in the direction of your values. In PR, the goal is to maintain mutually beneficial relationships. In life, seek mutually beneficial decisions.

If you’ve read to the end of this blog, I’m assuming you must be a busy person like me, but don’t exclude time to give your mind and body the rest that it deserves.

-Yahné Jackson

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