Sarah Shore, MS

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Putting First Things First...

Distractions are everywhere and our attention is being pulled in a thousand different directions everyday. Its a challenge to stay focused when there are so many demands for our time. Sometimes it helps, when distractions are overwhelming, to "put first things first." This simply means that we organize our time around our priorities. Easier said than done, I know! When you get very clear about what your priorities are, it does become easier.

Many times, our choices are between what is good for us and what is pleasurable. Carrots or chocolate cake? Working out or vegging out? Saving or spending? How can we delay gratification so that we make progress toward long-term goals, and maintain our commitment to our priorities?

1. Stop making excuses. We all need to give ourselves a break sometimes, but start to recognize the times that you are making excuses for not doing something to which you have made a commitment. When you start to count up how many times you didn't exercise because you"felt tired," you might start to hold yourself more accountable to your goals. And, that will get you one step closer to where you want to be.

2. Expect a little more from yourself. You can do this. Often times, we set our goals too high and we feel tired at the thought of trying to accomplish them. Take it down a few notches but expect more from yourself at the same time. You may be able to make the excuse that you can't go to the gym for two hours today, but can you use the same excuse about jumping rope in your back yard for 10 minutes? Give yourself a break, but expect a little more as well.

3. Enlist help. Whether its a spouse, a child, or a friend--let that person know you are aiming to put first things first--those priorities that are vitally important to you but maybe not always urgent. Its really ok to tell others what is really important to you, and to say no to requests when they simply do not align with your priorities. Ask for help, and let friends and family keep you on track when they see you straying in a million directions.

Remember: Ask for what you want. Set your priorities. Align your time management and decision making with those priorities. You will reduce distractions in your life and spend more time devoted to those areas which are truly important to you.

With Encouragement, Sarah Shore, M.S.

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