Living

Do your priorities conflict with your deepest desires?

What’s your top priority in life: a great career or an enduring, loving relationship? More importantly, which one of these goals do you work hardest to achieve in your day-to-day thoughts and actions?

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Masterfile

What’s your top priority in life: establishing a great career or an enduring, loving relationship? More importantly, which one of these goals do you work hardest to achieve in your day-to-day thoughts and actions?

If you’re the kind of person who applies yourself most to achieving professional success—perhaps at the expense of your private life or the maintenance of personal relationships— then you may want have to take a moment and reflect on whether or not your daily efforts square with your deepest desires.

If you’re so overworked that you’re too tired to even think about what those desires are, make a simplifying inquiry: Ask yourself what you regret more, a lost job opportunity or the breakdown of a close relationship? A recent poll (via Time.com) suggests that most people regret not putting personal relationships first in life far more than losing out on an educational or professional opportunity.

For the poll, Neal Roese, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, asked more than 500 U.S. adults to share their personal regrets and to rate these feelings as either “strong” or “weak.”

For Roese, regret is one way human beings reveal what it is they truly want in life.

Said Roese: “Regrets are actually a window into the concerns and goals most important to us.”

The professor then analyzed the results of those confessions to see what areas of life were most directly associated with these feelings of remorse. Not surprisingly, the most intense feelings surrounded mistakes related to love and relationships, which outnumbered upset related to employment or career issues by more than half.

Roese’s advice for people: take heed of other people’s regrets.

Said Roese: “As you are thinking about how to feel good about your life, the thing you will feel most strongly about is protecting and strengthening your personal relationships.”