Lots of things can be important to you. But only one thing can be the most important.
Everything has a ranking. The space between them may be razor-thin, and many things may vie for the top few spots. But there may come a time in your life when you have to choose between the two most important things, and on that day you’ll find out what number one truly is.
That doesn’t mean this is an easy thing to think about. But in reality, we act as if we already know the answer every day. Every choice we make, we’re implicitly prioritizing one thing over another – we prioritize convenience over health and money when we eat fast food. We prioritize family over career when we call out sick to take care of our kids.
But we’re often inconsistent. We prioritize today over tomorrow when we buy that new toy we don’t really need, but we prioritize tomorrow over today when we put aside more of our paycheck into a retirement account.
We’re inconsistent because we often haven’t really thought about the big picture. Try this: Make a list of everything that’s truly important to you. Family, wealth, happiness, fun, all of it.
Then rank them. Pit them against each other in your mind and decide which would win until you have a true hierarchy.
Then ask yourself if you’re really acting every day as if that were true.
And if you want a real “life hack” – once you’ve made that list, draw a line after number 5, and cut the list off there. Trash everything below #6. If it didn’t make the top 5, it’s probably just a distraction from the really important stuff.