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At Legacy Counseling Service in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma helping clients clarify their values and make choices that are consistent with those values is a top priority for me. When we are living out of line with our values we open ourselves up to increased chance of anxiety symptoms, depression, insomnia, health and relationship problems.

Back in my days of working as a psychologist at the Tampa, VA, I had a daily flip calendar that I would read for inspiration. One day, one of those calendar messages literally changed the way I looked at how I was spending my time…and eventually it started changing my life. I wish I could give credit to whoever wrote that inspirational message for that particular day, but I have no idea who wrote it. Eight years later it’s still something I use to help me determine what is a priority in my personal and professional life. It’s a phrase I use regularly. It’s a phrase I teach my friends, family, and clients to help them determine what things they need to prioritize. If you are dying to know what the phrase is just scroll to the bottom of this post, otherwise read on about “priority.”

What makes something a priority?

A priority is something we believe is more important than another thing. What constitutes a priority varies by person. It also varies based on the season of life we are in: what may have been important to us in our 20s might not be so important in our 50s. Some examples of priorities are: exercising, cooking home-made meals, spending alone time with your spouse, weekly dinners with friends or extended family, going on vacation, going to church, sleeping, etc.

Why do we need to make something a priority?

  • Priority helps us organize our time

    • Most of us are pulled in a lot of different directions, many of which we may not really be invested in. When there are so many things to do it can be hard to know which things take precedent over another things.
  • Priority helps us make daily choices that reflect our values

    • Again, when the majority of our daily choices are not lined up with our values, we are likely to notice that be developing anxiety or depressive symptoms – all indicators that something is out of balance in our life. Check out this quick video if you want to know more about what a value is
  • Priority helps us set boundaries with others

    • If you feel like a doormat and that you have no say over what your involved with, how you spend your time, money, energy…then you might need to develop some boundaries. Determining what things are important to you – what things are a priority – can help you set boundaries with others.
  • Priority helps reduce stress

    • It’s easy for stress to build up quickly and cause a number of problems including depression, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, weight gain, and chronic pain. Read more about the link between stress and chronic pain here.

The Magic Phrase To Set a Priority is….

“If I say YES to this, what am I saying NO to?” Yes, there it is folks! When we are stuck in the busyness of life and not feeling great about the path we are on, this question, when answered honestly, can work wonders to help you prioritize your values! It can help us keep things in perspective when we are pulled in too many different directions. For example, if I say yes to this committee, then I am saying no to time when I can be working on an important project. If I say yes to working late, then I am saying no to dinner with my family. You get the idea.

“If I say YES to this, what am I saying NO to?” is the phrase that I have used for myself for many years to help me set priorities. This question is one of the things that helped me determine if I was ready to move from Florida to Oklahoma; if I was ready to open my private practice, etc. Answering this question has been life changing for me….and it might be life changing for you too!


newbio1Dr. Leedy, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and owner of Legacy Counseling Service in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma who helps people from Tulsa and the surrounding communities with their mental health through face-to-face and online counseling. Through her work with clients she loves helping them discover what they truly value and teaching them ways to make those values a priority so they can live more fulfilling lives. Among many things, Dr. Leedy values being silly and sleeping. Check out Dr. Leedy’s multiple blogs about insomnia and how to improve sleep.

Call 539-777-1129 to learn more about how Dr. Leedy can help you, or visit her website at www.legacycounselingservice.com

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