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Expressing Priorities

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi

We each default to our foundational identity. It’s just who we are, demonstrated in action and prioritization again and again. This is either beneficial to our current and future self or detrimental. To change requires deliberate focus on habit formation and environmental changes like not buying cookies for the pantry or beer for the refrigerator. Sometimes it requires removing ourselves entirely from situations where the circle of friends and family around us are influencing behavior we just don’t want to be engaged in. I once decided I wasn’t going to drink for a month but went out to dinner with friends who goaded me into having a beer with them. It’s just a beer! So much for that resolution.

This summer I walked an extra 250 miles for a charity. It was time-consuming and frankly inconvenient, but I’d signed up and was in a situation where I’d be letting down others if I didn’t complete the stated goal. I finished with a few extra miles to spare and have only walked once in the seven days since. It wasn’t a part of my identity to walk, it was a part of my identity to honor my commitments to others. I thrived in rowing because I was in a boat full of teammates I didn’t want to let down. Similarly, I work hard in other aspects of my life because I want to honor my commitment to contribution. Knowing this about myself, I can shift tactics to ensure that I remain active and productive.

When we express priorities through action we’re making a statement about who we are and who we want to be. We are what we repeatedly do, and we telegraph who we are to others through our behavior, not our stated intentions. Action speaks louder than words, as they say. So we must express priorities clearly.

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