The phrase, “most people major in minor things,” is commonly used. The implication is that people tend to be distracted by circumstances, rather than focused on the priorities that will produce intended results. A simple (emotional) conflict between desire and need can easily cause some to use time and energy inconsistently with chosen priorities.
But, why is this? Should needs not always have priority over desires? The answer to this question not only reflects priorities, but also personal values. Before further discussion, it will help to define these common words as to not misunderstand motivations or their priority. Depending on where information is sought, it is common to find the words “need” and “desire” to have similar definitions. This brings to account a common misunderstanding; while all needs may also be considered desires, not all desires can be considered needs. Therefore, it is imperative that the independent definitions for these words be distinguished.
• a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism.
• a condition requiring supply or relief.
• to long, hope, or wish for.
• precedence, especially established by order of importance.
• beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable.
Considering the priorities, Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs outlines that human needs have hierarchy (priority); physiological needs have priority over emotional or psychological needs. Therefore, the first priority should be health and security.
But, this simple statement exemplifies how easy it is to conflict with modern society. In order to provide health and security, a dependable career is a must. Does that mean a career is more important than health and security? Or, since careers provide for the needs of families, does that mean families have a lower priority than careers? Does this “conflict” sound familiar? How people prioritize is a direct reflection of their values. But, are values always reflected in the priorities chosen? Decisions and actions may not always reflect intentions, but they do reflect priorities and values.
For more examples of how values and priorities can conflict with society, evaluate how society influences priorities and a sense of health and security. Truly practicing health care would mean that society focuses on preventing disease. United States’ society provides the best crisis management system available, but practices very little health care. When health is in crisis, this country has the best care in the world; but when truly trying to practice health care, this system is of little use. And to evaluate the reality of this country’s security, think about the fact that the United States survives on credit – which exhibits habits that do not focus on short- or long-term security. Society has taught the population to value possessions and social status more than security. Most have grown up (or were born) completely dependent on societal infrastructure for survival and security. There are several examples in history that this is not the best plan. This country thrives only when most people are providers, not dependents.
That said, the concern is not solving the country's challenges… only self-reflection. Everyone must define the values and priorities in their lives and not let society be the dominant influence. This all goes back to values. There are many driving factors.
The following reference to values is an excerpt from Wikipedia.
“A personal value is absolute or relative and ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based. Values which are not physiologically determined are normally considered objective, such as a desire to avoid physical pain, seek pleasure, et cetera, and are considered subjective, to vary across individuals and cultures and are in many ways aligned with belief and belief systems. Types of values include ethical/moral value, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. Values have typically been studied in sociology, anthropology, social psychology, moral philosophy, and business ethics.
Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person's sense of right and wrong or what ought to be. “Equal rights for all,” “Excellence deserves admiration,” and “People should be treated with respect and dignity” are representative of values.
According to sociologist Morris Massey, values are formed during three significant periods: 1) Imprint period from birth to 7 years. 2) Modeling period from 8 to 13 years. 3) Socialization period from 13 to 21 years.
Personal values provide an internal reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, constructive, et cetera. Values generate behavior and help solve common human problems for survival by comparative rankings of value, the results of which provide answers to questions of why people do what they do and in what order they choose to do them (priority).
Over time, the public expression of personal values, that groups of people find important in their day-to-day lives, lay the foundation of law, customs, and tradition. Personal values in this way exist in relation to cultural values, either in agreement with or divergent from prevailing norms. A culture is a social system that shares a set of common values, in which such values permit social expectations and collective understandings of the good, beautiful, constructive, and so on. Without normative personal values, there would be no cultural reference against which to measure the virtue of individual values and so culture identity would disintegrate.”
People’s values are taught and influenced by society, culture, religion, and role models. They are formed by adulthood and influence behavior and attitude, serving as broad guidelines in all situations to what is good and desirable. Values provide structure to society. And yet, because there is so much conflict with diversely competing values, cultural identity is disintegrating.
The quotes below frame these thoughts perfectly:
“The most important thing in life, is knowing the most important things in life.”
David F. Jakielo
“Need and desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.”
Dallin H. Oaks
“Your beliefs become your thoughts; Your thoughts become your words; Your words become your actions; Your actions become your habits; Your habits become your values; Your values become your destiny.”
“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
“Values aren't buses... They're not supposed to get you anywhere. They're supposed to define who you are.”
“The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what's important first.”
“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Stephen R. Covey
“Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work.”
H. L. Hunt
These pearls of wisdom provide clear direction; when choosing priorities, a clear definition of what is important is chosen. Priorities need to be part of the motive. Skin care professionals will have to implement priorities in the plan, organization, initiative, solution to obstacles, and navigation. In order to be self-empowered, thoughts, actions, habits, and values must all reflect priorities. It is safe to say that priority is where the rubber meets the road and where most people get off course. Therefore, it is one of the most important parts of the process.
It sounds a bit morbid at first, but to find out what is most important, write an obituary. That is right – write an obituary. For anyone who finds this too troubling, write an outline for an autobiography. Many will discover there is much left to accomplish. Everyone has passions buried deep inside. There may be fences that could be mended where pride or emotions once stood in the way. This is the time to discover whether those priorities and decisions match up with personal principles and values. Some may discover the things that would be done differently if the chance was available. Well, the chance is still on the table… today… and tomorrow. It is just a matter of priorities.
Sort priorities in separate lists: things that must be done; things that should be done; and things that would be nice to get done. Or, use the old school list of low, medium, and high priority. Regardless, separate these priorities into lists, rank the list items in order of priority, and allocate time and resources accordingly.
“I do know that when I am 60, I should be attempting to achieve different personal goals than those which had priority at age 20.”
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
Some of the most successful businessmen and women are completely self-aware. Taking the time to test personal belief systems, analyze influences of all sorts, and pinpoint needs and values is imperative to penning a sufficient list of priorities. All of these factors are a personal barometer for the importance of various business decisions and how high on the priority list they should be.
As mentioned, just as seasons change, so do the tides of culture, personal influences, and values. Therefore, it is important to periodically perform a self-evaluation to decide whether certain actions should still be a priority.
Here is a list of 200 values to help evaluate what may be important to you. As an exercise, make note (20 or more) of the values you most relate to and then list them in order of priority. If this list helps you think of better words that describe your values, put them on your list. Reflect upon your list often and integrate these values into your goals and plans.
William Strunk is the publisher of DERMASCOPE Magazine, founder of WES Publishing Co., founding partner with Avalon Media Group and a partner with The International Congress of Esthetics & Spa. As an entrepreneur for over 30 years, an author and lecturer, Strunk conducts motivational seminars and results oriented workshops on successful business practices. Having started his first business as a teenager, he shares successful behavioral practices that are not taught in business schools. Rather, learned from a lifetime devoted to motivational training and developing relationships with hundreds of other successful entrepreneurs.