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The Power of Prioritization

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, and that’s why they call it the present.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt.

 

As I’m learning to focus on living in the present, I think of that quote often. There’s another quote, shared with me by someone in a recovery program that says, “If you have one foot in your past, and the other foot in your future, you’re sh***ing (pooping) on today.” While a little crude, it creates a powerful mental image. Getting ahead of ourselves hurts our present.


Learning how to prioritize and accomplish the things that we need to take care of today, today, removes the anxiety about the what ifs of tomorrow. Anxiety feeds fear, and fear is an obstacle to success. The process of prioritization alleviates that anxiety. If you think about it, everything we do in this life has a process to it. It’s either a good process or a bad process, and all of it begins with what you’re thinking about, or how you think about it.


Spending too much time thinking about tomorrow, next week, or next year, causes us to miss the opportunity to take care of the things that are important today. Things that are important today, but are put off till tomorrow, transition from important to urgent.

 

Learning to prioritize is directly tied to learning your purpose, finding your identity, and having clarity about where you’re headed in life.

 

Urgency creates stress which makes us exhausted. It also, for me, makes it easy to be short with people who don’t deserve it. They don’t know what I have going on, but that urgency causes irritability, and that urgency came from not taking care of what needed to be taken care of yesterday when it was important.


The way we can learn how to prioritize is to think about the one thing that needs to be our next thing, then after that, what is the one thing? Personally, I’ve found the days that I’ve prioritized my schedule with “first thing’s first” have been productive, peaceful days.


A really important question is, “How do I know what needs to be my next thing?” Learning to prioritize is directly tied to learning your purpose, finding your identity, and having clarity about where you’re headed in life. When you learn your purpose, your WHY, you learn when to say no, and what to say yes to, and when. Then, with this clarity, you can begin to prioritize the steps needed to get there.


When you live your life without purpose, rather than on purpose, it’s impossible to effectively prioritize. One day these things are urgent, and the next day it’s an entirely different set of things that are stressing you out. Living your life on purpose allows you to clearly see the path ahead of you and chart your path accordingly.


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