Are You Putting First Things First in Your Life?

What does your schedule say about what’s important to you?

What were you doing one year ago today? (This question is easier to answer if you keep a journal.)

Since then, have you made any progress towards being the man you want to be? Read any good books? Switched to a more fulfilling job? Gotten out of debt? Or do your dreams seem all the farther away because here you are, a year later, and you’re no closer to living the life you dream of?

You’ve had three-hundred-sixty-five days to work on it. Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixy hours. Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes you could have used to shape yourself into the embodiment of your personal mission statement.

Did you seize the opportunity? Or did you sacrifice the wildly important on the altar of the whimsically immediate three-hundred-sixty-five times over?

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Focus Pocus LTD

Charting a course is the easy part. Pick a destination, figure out what you have to do to get there from here, and get under way. Then reality hits. The winds beat you back. You find yourself working against the current. Going against the flow.

They come from everywhere—the critics, the naysayers, the doubters. Some mean well; they don’t want you to get hurt. Some say it can’t be done because they haven’t done it. Some will hold you back because you remind them of what they’ve given up on.

What do you do when every force in the world is trying to bring you down?

You defy gravity.

There are all kinds of forces that will hold you back and keep you from flying. The only way to overcome them is to be intentional.

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent, nor hinder, nor control the firm resolve of a determined soul.
—Ella Wheeler Wilcox

You have a plan—great. You’ve identified the “first things” in your life. Your plan isn’t worth the paper it’s written on unless you put first things first.

  • Do you have a personal mission statement that describes the life you want to live?
  • Do you set SMARTER goals each year to start building that life?
  • Do you plan your time each week to make sure you’re making progress on your goals?
  • Do you plan your time before other people fill your day with their priorities?
  • Do you protect what’s important from the tyranny of the immediate?
  • Do you schedule regular time to get better at what you do?
  • Do you start the day by eating the biggest frog on your plate?
  • Do you take on challenges, not because they’re hard, but because they’re the right thing to do?

Whether you like it or not, you’re not the same man you were last year. Or even yesterday. You’re constantly changing, developing new habits and routines. If you’re not putting your first things first, you’re just going to drift whatever way the wind blows. You may not like where you end up.

When you put first things first, you do more than identify your goals—you start taking steps towards your dreams. You set your sails and tell the wind where to take you. Interruptions will still happen, but you’ll quickly get out of Quadrant 1 and back into Quadrant 2—the Quadrant where lasting growth and change happen.

Question: How do you keep first things first in your life? Share your answer in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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