12/14/2012 03:20 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2013

Be in the Top 5!

I have a friend whose husband told her that he felt like he wasn't a priority and that he came in at the bottom of her "list." Her response: "No, you're not at the bottom of my list. I am!" I found this incredibly poignant because it rang so true. Last week we explored getting onto your own to-do list so that you can take care of yourself. But what does it take to stay on the list and avoid getting bumped? If you do get bumped, how can you get back on? Most importantly, how can you prioritize so you're not last on the list?

Regardless of how much support we have from friends, family and colleagues, most individuals I know still struggle with either getting onto the list, or getting off the bottom. So I thought that we should further examine how to prioritize the things that help us feel balanced, calm, and focused. The first tip falls into the same basket I talk about a lot: staying conscious.

Have you ever been annoyed with someone, and noticed everything they did, right or wrong? While perhaps not the best use of your time, this is a prime example of being conscious. On the flip side, have you ever gotten to your destination and realized you had no memory of the drive? This is an example of being un-conscious. Neither is right (or wrong). But having the ability to be conscious during your day can go a long way toward success because it is in those moments we are not paying attention to that we make mistakes.

Being conscious and aware of your actions will go a long way to ensuring that you stay on the top of your list. When things get tough, revisit the most effective ways to take care of yourself. Ask yourself -- both when it's smooth sailing and when you're feeling stressed out -- what helps you de-stress, who can you ask for support, what keeps you healthy and vibrant? Also, during a free moment, it's valuable to think about how to solve the time crunch in your daily life: what is and isn't critical during busy times.

The next part of this plan is to "be worth it." I believe that if you're not taken care of, you can't take care of those who are most important to you. A stressed-out, cranky, overwhelmed parent (or spouse, colleague, friend) is hardly the most effective or supportive person. So, if you are someone on whom people rely, I assert that it is your duty to care for yourself.

As a parent, I struggle with getting everything done. But I also believe that it is my responsibility to be a good role model for my kids (and I don't just mean refraining from swearing!). I want my children to see me as someone who demonstrates compassion for others, eats well, communicates effectively, but -- perhaps most importantly -- takes care of myself.

For most of us, taking care of ourselves is a nice idea that is often difficult to accomplish. If you add in the incentive of being role models for our children or being able to help those around us, the priority becomes much higher.

So I invite you to think about what deserves to be a priority on your to-do list so that you can be the best version of yourself for you and for others. Doing this requires proactive planning and some introspection. Give some thought to what action items are missing in order for you to be high up on your list. Who knows? You might find the key that unlocks the door that hides success!

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