To prioritize is to “determine the order for dealing with (a series of items or tasks) according to their relative importance.” Notice the words relative importance. We tend to focus on, and spend time and energy on, what is important. Important according to whom? Us!
This is why each of our days look so different. This is why our free time looks so different from person to person. Our actions and activities get prioritized according to what we feel is important. What is important to me may not matter much to you. And what matters to you, may not peak my interest at all.
If you are confused as to why you are successful in some areas of life, but fail in others, it often comes down to where you put your time and energy. Put a person that looks muscular, strong, and fit, next to a person that is carrying fifty or sixty pounds of extra body fat and looks out of shape. Is it just a matter of a drastic difference in genes? Nope! We now know that genes do not determine our destiny. Maybe one is lucky and the other isn’t? Nope! I hope I don’t have to explain the whole luck thing. It comes down to lifestyle choices. If we looked at the lifestyles of both people we would find a dramatic difference in how each person prioritizes. One puts a greater amount of importance on the things that result in a body that is fitter, leaner, more muscular, and stronger.
Someone that looks fit and in great shape isn’t lucky, or just blessed with great genes. They have made staying in shape important and placed that importance above the things an out of shape person would choose. They utilize the time they can carve out of their busy day to get to the gym, or do an exercise class, or go for a walk, instead of overeating, snacking on junk food, and sitting around binge-watching Game of Thrones.
Be careful, because there is prioritization within prioritization. What I mean by that is that some people make health and wellness a priority, but then prioritize the things within that category inappropriately. For example, they may put a lot of emphasis on attaining and/or maintaining a body that is fit and strong. This is important to them, so they make time, put in the energy, and allocate money to get the body they want. However, if doing this as fast as possible, or without regard to overall well-being, they may do things that are risky or unethical ahead of things that are solid, sound, and safe.
Once you prioritize achieving and maintaining the body that you want, next you have to prioritize the methods and means by which you will make that happen. Proper exercise and a real, whole-food diet must be of greater importance than some gimmicky diet or fad weight-loss program.
This prioritizing holds true for every area of life. Show me the number one salesperson in your company, and I’ll show you someone whose day is prioritized in such a way that they do the important, productive stuff first. Their daily to-do list looks much different than their not-so-successful co-workers. The best parents, the best friends, the best marriages, and the happiest people are all that way, not by chance, but because of how they prioritize their actions. They don’t do the easiest things first, they don’t do the things they like to do the most first, and they don’t do what everyone else is doing first. They do the most impactful and important things first.
If you’re not making a list of things you need to do each day, that might be a good start. Second, make sure you do the most important things first. We all know that our lists often do not get completed. And because the most important things we need to do to be successful are often the hardest or least enjoyable, putting them off until later usually ends up meaning they don’t get done at all.
Change your priorities, and you’ll change your results. You’ll quickly see improvement in whatever area of life you have prioritized properly.