Ann Richards on Setting Priorities

ann richardsIn yesterday’s post (“Kerry Tate on Personal Branding“), Kerry Tate of Civic Interest recounted the story of former Texas governor Ann Richards’ “list.” Today I want to tell you what was on that list.

Richards focused on that list of life priorities when she was interviewed by PJ Pierce for her book “Let Me Tell You What I’ve Learned: Texas Wisewomen Speak.”

Richards explained that, after her defeat in the 1994 gubernatorial election, she was left in a new position, outside of public service. Her aging mother was needing more attention, and she wanted to spend more time with her children and grandchildren. Richards explained:

So, for the first time, I realized that I probably needed to measure the number of years I had left to live–something that people rarely do–and that I’d better decide how I wanted to live those years. . . . Until then, I had always done what was expected of me or what I felt obligated to do.

I think I have approximately twenty years left. My mother died last year at the age of eighty-six, and I figure I have twenty years to live with all my faculties in place. It was a new experience to be able to see a finite end to my life, rather than living from goal to goal.

The rules of the list? No more than five items. Each one begins with the phrase “I want.” They have to be affirmative desires. And “I didn’t include my children on my list because they are always number one.”

  1. I want to work.
  2. I want to add to the world that my grandchildren will inherit. I want to be socially responsible.
  3. I want to work with people I like.
  4. I want to travel for fun, not just for work.
  5. I want to learn new things.

Besides favors she owed friends, Richards refused any requests that didn’t meet four out of five of these criteria.

This interview was published in 2002. Richards passed away four years later of esophageal cancer.

I’ll ask you, as Richards asked Tate, “What’s yer five?”

(Read yesterday’s post, “Kerry Tate on Personal Branding.”)

2 Responses to Ann Richards on Setting Priorities

  1. Joanne Wakelin March 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Very wise advice. You don’t have to be 66 for this to be a valuable guide.

  2. Ann Daly March 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    You’re so right, Joanne. Anne’s wisdom is for any age!