Priority Pie

What are your priorities? Do you want to do well in school? Do you want to have a great social life? Do you want to have abs to die for? You can't always get what you want, but sometimes if you are careful about the commitments you make you can acheive a lot of what you want. It's all a matter of how you allocate your resources - time, energy, and money.

We've assembled a collection of student stereotypes the typify many of the wishes college students have for themselves. They aren't scientific, but they are food for thought.


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Instructions: Review the four student stereotypes we've created and carefully examine how their resources are allocated. Once you've looked at them all, download the linked Priority Pie worksheet and create the kind of "life" you'd like to have for yourself. Give it a try for two weeks and see how you like it.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

1) How will changing my priorities help me with my stress?

2) I don't see anything in the stereotypes that appeals to me. What about that?

3) I don't have a choice about my priorities. What am I supposed to do?

How will changing my priorities help me with my stress?

Very often the single biggest factor in creating stress in our lives is that we overcommit ourselves. This happens quite frequently with college students at the beginning of a semester. Excitement, perfectionism, and unrealistic expectations often combine to create the "perfect storm" of an overcommitted schedule. Wisdom comes from the knowledge that every decision has consequences, and when we choose one path we "close the door" to others. Accepting our limitations (as well as challenging them!) establishes a greater sense of our true capabilities and allows us to create a better life for ourselves.

I don't see anything in the stereotypes that appeals to me. What about that?

The stereotypes we chose are an amalgamation of many of the ideas students have shared with us over the years, but they certainly don't encompass all of the diversity or the rich complexity of every student's life. If there truly is absolutely nothing in any of the stereotypes that resonates with you, think about the kind of role models you have had or the kind of life you would like to have and use the "Priority Pie" worksheet to define the life you want for yourself. Maybe seeing what isn't you in the stereotypes will help you have a better sense of who you are or what you want out of life.

I don't have a choice about my priorities. What am I supposed to do?

Many times we don't have a choice about some things in life. If you have to work full-time, or if you must care for children or a loved-one, or if you have some physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges that must be dealt with then it can feel extremely frustrating and overwhelming at times. In no way to we mean to minimize life's realities for you. Sometimes, however, there is more "wiggle room" than we think. We want to encourage you to try and think "outside the box," and look at each of your priorities. Is it possible that there is someone in your life that might help you with your commitments (even if you really would rather not ask for help?) We would be glad to help you explore this possibility, and if you are currently enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin you can come to the Counseling and Mental Health Center for a no-cost consultation. There is also a wonderful, thought-provoking book by Dr.Viktor Frankl called Man's Search for Meaning that might provide some comfort for you if there truly are no options.

Remember to Think Small

Think Small IconWhat's one small thing you can do to reduce your stress? Try it as an experiment and see what happens. You can always go back to your old way of doing things.




This site is designed to be a work in progress. We are constantly refining and improving it based on your feedback and suggestions. Your message is anonymous, so please feel free to let us know what you think!