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CW Ep. 46: David Hopkins

Priorities! We’ve all got ‘em, we all need ’em. What do we do with them? Listen in as David Hopkins discusses priorities in life.  Should they change in a time of crisis? Do they change over time? Should I do something different?

Welcome to Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday. I’m David Hopkins. Priorities. We all got them. We all want them. We all need them. But what do you do with them? To paraphrase the great Jimmy Buffet there. I was thinking about priorities the other day as I was getting ready to dust off our hurricane plan down here in Florida. The priorities that I have are pretty simple. Keeping our residents safe, making sure we have enough food and water, the generator will run, I have staff that are willing to spend the night and work some extra time if we encounter a hurricane coming up in this next year. It got me thinking when we established priorities in our life, should they change during a crisis? I think about this past year of 2020 and how most of our priorities changed. We weren’t prepared for what was coming in a global pandemic.


We changed the way we did things. We changed the way people came to work. We changed a lot of things and I wanted to go back and look in my priorities and figure out did I change those to react to a situation? And if I had the right priorities, were they in the right order so that I wouldn’t have to change it in times of a crisis. So join me in the next few minutes as we talk about a deep dive into priorities and not only our lives, but our residents’ lives, our staff’s lives, and how do we manage all of those? If you have the right priorities, should they change? First, I think we need to figure out what kind of priorities are we talking about here? Is it time? Is it values? Is it monetary objects? Is it people or accolades and recognition?


What drives you? What are you putting at your top three priorities in life that you really need to be fulfilled and satisfied with? Because priorities are different for everybody. Whether it’s for an ED, one of your staff members, your spouse, your kids, we all have priorities and what we think is most important. Stephen Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Schedule your priorities. How many times have we taken just a few minutes to sit down and write out what our priorities are? I know what you’re saying, ‘Oh, David, this past year and into this year, I’ve been so busy. I can’t even think for myself.’ But taking time to figure out what’s important to you will help you find fulfillment and satisfaction in not only your job or your career, your passion, and your love and life.


So what is the priority in your life? If I asked you that today, would you be able to tell me what the top priority is immediately? If you don’t have priorities, can you accomplish goals and what you set out to do if you don’t? Most of us want to go back to school or start a side business or take a class. And if it’s important to us enough, we’ll make the time to figure it out. I think about all the new year’s resolutions that were started. This year I’m going to start exercising more. It’s a great time to get my fitness back into shape, and I’m going to walk or run five times a week. I’m going to hit the gym and by February, most of those are done. Is it that the priority changed or is it something else? And then what happens when you have work, family, professional, and personal priorities, do they interfere with each other?


Do they get in the way? I always a cringe when I hear that you need to have balance in your work and personal life. Probably one of the most cliched statements out there. In reality, balance as a teeter-totter, that means it’s equal on both sides. I don’t know anybody who’s accomplishing that at this point in time, because it’s 24 hours in a day. That would mean that you would spend 12 hours with your family and 12 hours at work. Now I’m not a big fan of a 12-hour workday, although we’ve all done those and more. I guess I’m a big fan or more accepting of workplace blend because there’s times that we need to take a late meeting or meet with a family member or come in early and spend some time with our third shift. And there’s also times that you need to leave work early, to go visit a kid’s school or watch a play, or be there present for a sports game or something that’s important to your children or your family or your pet.


So I started thinking about when we add kids as a new mom or dad, do your priorities change? Yes, most of us require much more sleep or try to get a quick nap in the middle of a day. With a new job, that first couple of weeks you’re really putting in the extra hours to make sure you’re getting everything and you’re being present. And if you’re a leader, showcasing those abilities and helping your team and getting to know them and working alongside them. When you adopt a new pet, now you’ve got to wake up earlier to make sure that you can take them out if you’re going to work. Make sure they’re fed. They go to the vet, they get good checkups. You’re grooming them correctly. Your priorities change. When you bring those into your life. I can remember getting my first car in high school.


It wasn’t a new car to me, but it was a new car to me. I inherited my grandfather’s car, a 77 Chrysler LeBaron. The high beams were on the floor. It had three radio stations and even blinkers at the bumpers so I know which side I was turning on. But the priorities in my life changed when I got that. I’d take the extra time instead of watching TV or doing something else to wash and wax the car and vacuum and out and make sure that it really looked good. That priority changed for me in my life. I think it does for everybody when you get your first car. But my biggest lesson, I guess in my career has been, I love to coach and speak at conferences. That’s where I get the most fulfillment personally, in my professional goals and priorities. In my personal life, my family is my number one priority. 


I love spending time with them playing with them, whether it’s games, video games, going to the pool and swimming, taking trips and hikes. And those two started competing with each other. I had a job a while ago as a consultant in healthcare. I loved it. We were changing hospitals and healthcare organizations with customer service and culture techniques to really bring forth a true loving and tender-caring staff. My daughter would write me notes and leave them in my suitcase as I traveled to say, ‘go change the world one hospital at a time.’ And I’d take that note out when I got to the hotel and I’d read it and it would make me very conflicted. I love my family and I love my job. And my family was supporting me doing that, but it broke my heart that I had to read a note from my daughter that she was believing in me to go change the world.


But on my personal priority, I was leaving them. So to ensure that my family became my number one priority, I left that consulting job and took a job closer to home where I can affect that and senior living. How many priorities should you have? 10? 25? Should it be in a circle, a square, a star shape pattern? I keep learning this lesson over and over and I wish I would really take it to heart in everything start small. Start with one priority. What is the single most important thing for you? Think about that. Above everything else in the entire world, what is that first priority? Follow that first priority for a bit. Give it a week. Give it two. Maybe even a month or three. How does it play into your life? Keeping that number one priority written in front of you at all times on your notebook or your daytimer or your computer screen, do other things take its place?

Do you adjust it and move it up and down to compensate for what’s going on in your life? Once you figure that out, then you can add another one in. Perhaps you place it in front of that priority or behind it, but you’ll know where your first priority lies. Especially over this first couple of weeks, if you’re moving it around to accommodate for something else, that’s a higher priority in your life. Now I’m a big fan of keeping it simple. So when I thought about priorities, I thought about the first thing I do every morning. I wake up. So when you wake up in the morning, what is your priority? Do you open your eyes first or do you keep your eyes closed and swing your feet over the side of the bed to sit up? Do you lay there and keep your eyes closed and pray?


Do you reach for water? Do you hop out of bed and run for the bathroom? These are all priorities. So breaking it down, simply knowing what you do first thing in the morning, will help you on your way to establishing your own personal set of priorities. When you select it, the priorities help us to focus on what’s important in our lives. Life is too short to focus on things that are not important. We have so much to be thankful for. So much joy in our lives. In this now cancel-culture and ghosting and everything else that goes on with the negativity, let’s focus on what’s good in our lives. Start taking your priorities and put the good ones up at the front. Let’s focus on those. Be grateful for what we have. When I researched priorities, of course, I typed it into Google and 9,000 images show up and websites and books and pictures and classes to help you with your priorities.


They’re all there to help you. It went from Oxford University in England to different color Hershey kisses on their images for how to help you figure out what your priorities are in life. There were research companies, there were churches, there was even a plumbing company. How many should you have subcategories, defense, offense, all these different shapes, sizes, and colors to help you establish your priorities. Let’s keep it simple and start with one. So I look forward to you connecting with me and let me know what your first priority is that you select. And then let’s build it from there. This isn’t homework, this is something fun that you will love to do. And I hope you do it with me. If you want to talk about how you’re prioritizing your life, I’d love for you to reach out to me at You’ll find my smiling face there and you’ll know that my first priority in life is my family. I want to thank you for listening to this week’s BTG Contributor Wednesday, please connect with me aa Thanks and have a great day.

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CW Ep. 46: David Hopkins