How to figure out what really matters with the priorities map  


Peter Stevens
Member Admin
Joined: 3 years  ago
Posts: 104
24/06/2019 8:37 am  

A lot of people have been asking me how to get started with Personal Agility to figure out what really matters, get their life under control, get the right things done, achieve long term goals and/or live a happier, more purposeful life.

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This is how I suggest you proceed:

What you need

  • Priorities Map and Breadcrumb Trail
  • Forces map
  • Small colored sticky dots
  • Space to hang up the Priorities Map, Breadcrumb Trail and Forces Map where they will be easily visible
  • Dark Pen
  • Sticky tape or pins to hang up the pages
  • Optional: A celebration partner to ask you the questions of Personal Agility

The Personal Agility Starter Kit has what you need to get started. Just add tape and a pen.


Hang the Priorities Map, Breadcrumb Trail, and Forces Map on the wall, refrigerator, door, window or some other flat surface where you can see them easily.

Your First Celebrate and Choose

Like a navigator on a boat, you use the Celebrate & Choose event to figure out where you are and where you are heading. When you answer the questions, write the answers on sticky notes. Only write one item per sticky note. Make sure you can read your own writing 😉

  1. What did you do last week?  Remember what you got done and write that down, one item per ticket. Could be work, could be private, could be fun, could be serious. Don’t worry if you don’t remember everything; do try to capture most of what you spent your time on. Put these items in the “Done” column of the Breadcrumb Trail. You may choose to focus only on your work time, only on your private time, or do a combined board for both.
  2. What could you do this week? This is your to-do list. Write down everything you want to do on sticky notes, one item per note, and put them on the “Possibilities” column of the Forces Map.
  3. Reflect – What are the forces in your life? Look at the notes that you created. Do you see any patterns? Hobbies, Family, Health, Education, Projects, Work…. Identify 3 to 5 themes that categorize what you have been spending time on.
  4. What really matters? (First draft) For each of the themes you identified, write down the theme title on a sticky note, mark it with a colored sticky dot, and put it on the “What Really Matters” column in your Priorities Map. Put the most important theme at the top, the second most important in position two, etc. 
  5. Make it visible! Pick a colored sticky dot for each of the major themes you identified, and put it on the notes that correspond to that theme Were they urgent? Use red dots to highlight them!
  6. Reflect – What has mattered in your life? Look again at the “Done” column. Which item did you spend the most time on last week? Put it at the top of the list. Put the second most time consuming in position two, etc. Look again at the “Possibilities” column. Which item is most important to you? Put it at the top of the list. The second most important goes in position two, etc.
  7. Create insights about how you are living your life. The “Done” column tells you what has mattered in your life last week. The amount of time spent is a reflection of the importance you have given to each task or theme. Red dots may be telling you when urgent things are driving you off course or when you are letting things go to the last minute!

    The “Possibilities” column is a gut-level view of what matters in your life. The “What Really Matters” column is an intellectual view of what really matters. Cards that don’t have dots may represent interruptions or something that is important but that you haven’t identified yet. Are there any discrepancies between these columns? Are you spending time on things that don’t matter? Are things that do matter getting enough of your time?

  8. What really matters?  (Second draft) Adjust the items in your “What Really Matters” column to reflect how you would like to prioritize them and to allocate your time to. As you sort and choose items you would like to accomplish each week, always refer to these priorities. Colored dots link individual tasks to what really matters to you. In my case, “Me and my Family” (green) is top of the list of what really matters. What if no "green" activities are scheduled. Are you giving that aspect of your life enough attention?
  9. Celebrate! Now you are ready to Celebrate and Choose your life as described in the Guide to Personal Agility. What have you accomplished? Move the corresponding sticky notes from “Done” to the “Done/Week 1” column. As you’re doing that, review in your mind (or with your Celebration Partner) what you did, why it was important, and what should happen next.

    Give yourself a high five for what you got done!

    You might arrange the stickies by the order they were completed, by effort to complete, or you might group them by color, depending on what you would like to make visible and understand about yourself.

  10. Choose! What is important? What is urgent? What will make you happy? Arrange the tasks in the Possibilities column by their importance to you – the most important item goes at the top of the list. Highlight urgent things by putting them in a separate column.

    What would you like to get done this week? Choose the tasks you think you can get done and move them into the “This Week” column. In general, you’ll want to do the most important tasks first while finding a balance between urgent and important ones.

  11. What do you want to do now? Move the most important task into the “Today” column. Focus on getting that done. If you get distracted, that is what you come back to! When it’s done, move it to the “Done” Column and take the next one from the “This Week” column.

Congratulations! You have started. Look at and update your Priorities Map as often as you need. My suggestion is once per day for a quick update and a full Celebrate and Choose once per week, but it depends a bit on the situation. As you move forward, your Breadcrumb Trail tells you what you have been spending your time on and why. Use it to reflect on your course for life. Are you doing what you want to be doing? Are you becoming the person you want to be?  If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no,’ adjust your priorities in the “What Really Matters” column and your choices in the Celebrate and Choose event.


Explained in Personal Agility: Perform with Precision, by Peter Stevens and Maria Matarelli. Get your copy

This topic was modified 1 year  ago 2 times by Peter Stevens


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