Survive or Thrive: The Art of Aligning Your Priorities

I have a great Growth Question for you today. This question can really change the direction of your life if you use it to empower yourself daily. Here it is:

Do you want to merely survive life or do you want to thrive in life?

At the heart of this question – and at the heart of success – is one word: Priority.

I want to share with you how I manage my priorities in order to live a thriving life, not just a surviving life. This tool is called Vertical Alignment. This tool helps me to schedule and attend to my top priorities. It helps me prioritize my day-to-day so that I’m always on the path towards fulfilling my dreams and goals.

Before diving into Vertical Alignment, I want to first share with you three critical elements of priorities.

#1 Not all activity gets you somewhere.

We all know that one person who is always ‘busy’. Being busy gives people a feeling of importance. The question busy people should ask themselves is if they’re busy doing the right things. Busy-ness and “getting things done” doesn’t necessarily move you in the right direction.

Leadership expert Stephan Covey wrote, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” It’s not enough to be busy; rather, you need to be busy doing the right things. There are many people spinning their wheels and going nowhere.

Success comes through strategy, not chance.

#2 Priorities will require you to do some things you really don’t want to do.

To grow, there’s always a price. Your priorities will make you stretch and move outside of your comfort zone. Like it or not, sacrifice is the price of success. So, make room for some discomfort in your life if you want to succeed!

Trust me there is no real gain without pain – there aren’t any free handouts on the road to success.

#3 Strategy begets success.

Without a vision or strategy, your priorities won’t have a chance to change and properly align. You need to be able to recognize what strategies and priorities are successful for you. Recognize the ones that aren’t. Then, move yourself in the right direction.

We’re all human, we get into funks here and there. The trick is getting yourself out of the unsuccessful rhythm as quickly as you can by adjusting your strategies accordingly.

The System: Vertical Alignment

Do you have a system for evaluating what wins your time and energy so as to get the most out of your life and relationships? If not, I have one for you. And it works.

Vertical Alignment is the order and structure to prioritize your thoughts, relationships and time to aid you in your daily key decisions. Vertical Alignment helps you live a life of balance and fulfillment.

It’s a compass that guides you in deciding the level of importance of things by weighing these things up against your goals. This compass, Vertical Alignment, helps you navigate the decisions of everyday life. It’s a simple, easy-to-remember method of keeping your priorities straight. A much needed tool in this hectic world….

You are a vertically-aligned individual if you keep your priorities in this order:

Married                                                                           Single

God God
Spouse Parent(s) and/or Children
Children Sibling(s)
Family Members/Church/Community Family Members/Church/Community
Country Country
Job/School/Source of Income Job/School/Source of Income
Self Self

How it works is very simple. Use this checklist to help you apply it to your life:

#1. Keep your thoughts filtered and in order.

Our thinking drives action. If you’re thinking too much about your job, you’ll miss opportunities elsewhere. If you can’t stop thinking about your own needs, you’ll miss out on the needs of those around you.

#2 Weigh a new opportunity against this list in order.

If someone asked me to go on a 3-day hiking trip in the Rocky Mountains, I would think through VA this way:

How can this opportunity glorify God?
How will the trip impact my spouse and family?
Am I needed by my community during that time?
…and so on. A quick mental check can add immense value and balance to your life and works 100% of the time in all situations. When given an opportunity, use this list as a quick mental check.

#3 Strategize your personal growth.

Use the list to generate questions like these:

When was the last time I read new material on better parenting strategies?
Which one of the seven categories in Vertical Alignment is causing me the most anxiety?
How long has it been since I had a great conversation with my sibling?
…and so on. The list acts as a guide to help you bring important things to mind and will help you align your intentions. We need to be sure that our energies are geared towards our priorities because we just can’t give all our energy at once, so we must be intentional.

#4 Manage your inputs.

The people you spend time with, the music you listen to, the books or articles you read, the television you watch and so on, all affect the priorities on your list, either negatively or positively. Arrange and change your inputs so that they support your Vertical Alignment list, lifting it up in positivity. How is being with so-and-so helping me be a better employee, friend, or spouse? Good questions like this to ask yourself result in increased productivity and growth in your life.

These are the 4 steps to living in Vertical Alignment. Let us know how we can add value to your journey. Go to …. to find our video and resources on Vertical Alignment

Go and Grow!

About E5 Leader

For the past 30 years, we’ve been teaching CEOs, leaders of teams, and stakeholders in a variety of industries how to achieve excellence and peace in equal measure. At E5 Leader, we believe that having all of the money and success in the world doesn’t matter if your relationships are falling apart or your health is failing. We believe there's no title on a page that can hold more sway than going to sleep at night knowing you’re in sync with those you love the most. At the end of the day, you’ll never be the leader out in the world you’re capable of being if you don’t know how to lead first from within.