It’s spring break here in Portland, so today I’m re-sharing one of my favorite tips on declaring priorities.
Have you read those irritating books on time management and getting things done and being highly effective? Because I have; I’ve read ALL of them. I exaggerate only slightly.
They all talk about priorities.
Deciding which thing on your list was most important.
But I’d end up absolutely infuriated, because if I knew WHICH ONE WAS MORE IMPORTANT, I WOULDN’T BE READING THE DAMN BOOK.
Gee, that last sentence sounds angry.
But so much boils down to establishing priorities– big rock, A-level, mission critical– and I would freeze.
It all felt important.
Because it WAS all important.
One of the challenges of being someone who sees how everything is intricately connected is that you inherently GET that you can’t prioritize one thing without another thing losing out. You see how this choice here influences fourteen other things down the line… and so you feel paralyzed. No choice seems possible.
It’s all important.
But here’s why you should establish priorities anyway. It’s painful but SO worth it, because not to be dramatic, but this is where you stake your claim in your humanity.
The humility is acknowledging that you can’t do it all. The glory is that you dare to do SOMEthing.
If you wait, you will spend your whole life fielding one crisis after another. And weirdly, the tiny crises (they are OUT of salad!!! and you promised SALAD!!!!) will morph and grow to take up whatever energy is available.
There is always something flapping its urgent wings to get your attention.
It takes real guts to turn your attention away from all the things that are flapping and screeching and catching on fire and to keep your gaze focused on the bigger things.
But you should do it anyway.
Here is the big secret about making decisions, about determining priorities, about winnowing out the truly important from the merely urgent:
The big secret is that it doesn’t matter so much what you choose.
What matters is that you choose SOMEthing.
Go ahead and declare a word for this year, a goal for the quarter, a five-year plan. Stake a bold claim regarding your priority for this week, and stick to it when it means saying NO to that other perfectly worthy thing.
Even if it turns out that you chose the ‘wrong’ thing. Even if you have to switch directions. Even if you decide that you made a stupid-ass decision. The simple act of making a choice is THE most powerful thing you can do.
You can always adjust course. But it’s so much better to do that when you’re sailing than to do it in the harbor.
As Goethe said, action has magic to it.
So today, pick something.
What’s the most important thing for you to get done today?
For me, the most important thing for me to do today is to be present with my little girl on this last day of spring break. We will lounge on the couch, drink tea, and read The Long Winter.
If you could get only ONE thing accomplished this month, what would you want it to be? This week?
Pick something. If you’re stupid-wrong, that’s perfect. Because the very act of choosing and moving forward will show you that faster than the most intricate plan.
Move. Choose. Declare.
P.S. If you haven’t heard, big news: I’m teaching The Queen Sweep for FREE this spring. Yup. Fuh-ree, baby. Because spring. Because daffodils. Because ordinarythisamazingday. Sign up here.