If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. - Greg McKeown

If everything is important, then nothing is important. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. - Garr Reynolds

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do - Steve Jobs

We’ve all heard the above sayings, or some version of them. Yet in our culture where “beehive activity is a large part of the human condition,” it’s easy to convince ourselves that we can keep all the balls in the air and somehow make it all work.

In The 80/80 Marriage, Nate and Kaley Klemp offer some concrete advice to help us out on the relationship front when it comes to prioritization: creating a Life Report Card. This is an exercise designed to give you a chance to consider which “subjects” in life you want to get A’s in and which “subjects” in life you’re willing to fail.

  • Do you really need to make a brunch extravaganza from scratch for your book club? Or can you get a B- in the “friends” subject by having the gathering catered?
  • Do you need to spend all of the Christmas holiday working on your TPS report? Or can you get a D+ in the “work” subject?

Before doing this exercise, the Klemps say that it’s useful to get grounded on what your shared values as a couple are, noting that these values can be dynamic. For an example, the shared values that you have for the summer holidays may be adventure and novelty, while for the winter months it may be spending time with family and restorative hibernation. These values can then ground the priorities that emerge in the Life Report Card.

The big idea here is leaning into failure – the more you can intentionally allow yourself to fail in your lowest priority areas, the greater chance you have of succeeding (i.e. getting A’s!) in the areas that matter the most to you and your partner. Easier said than done for the Type A’s among us that are allergic to anything other than excellence… but it’s a self-compassion-rooted life lesson to be learned sooner rather than later.

So take a moment to make a Life Report Card with your partner at your next State of the Union. What are your shared values? What “subjects” are you guys taking in the curriculum of Life? What grades are you getting in them right now? What grades do you want to be getting in them? Where are you succeeding? And most importantly: where can you let yourself fail?