I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You can’t do it all, and you can’t have it all. We are all limited to 24 hours per day and our energy to accomplish things during that time is limited as well. It’s also why it’s important to get good at prioritization when it comes to success. This idea of choosing what to do when and what to focus on “right now” comes into play in a few diverse ways.
Prioritization When Setting Goals
The first place when we use prioritization is when we define our unique version of success and start setting goals. While we may have ideas and ambitions, not all of them are feasible. Maybe you’d like to be an astronaut, but there simply isn’t a big market for that occupation. Instead, you prioritize on something that’s exciting and attainable. Maybe it’s teaching high-school science, or maybe it’s running an online store for astronomy equipment and supplies.
You’ll also prioritize goals for different areas of your life. If you’re just starting out in your career, you may spend more time and energy at the office than with your family. Eventually, that will change, and you’ll shift your focus to strengthening those relationships. Being able to prioritize what’s most important right now helps you get things done without feeling too guilty about it.
Prioritization Based on Biggest Impact
Once you’ve determined what your goal is and what milestones you need to reach to make that goal, it’s time to pick what will have the most impact and what will move you ahead more than anything else. Let’s say you’re working on becoming debt free. You have a fixed amount of money to spend each month on reducing any debt, and so you prioritize where you put the money. By starting with the highest interest debt, you make the most progress. In this example, it’s easy to determine where to spend your money. But, it’s not always easy to see where your efforts would have the most significant impact on other goals.
Spend some time thinking about this, get advice from a mentor or peer, and keep an eye on your effectiveness. You get a better feel for prioritizing for biggest impact over time.
Prioritization Based on Your Environment
We don’t live in a vacuum and life isn’t always easy. That forces us to pick and choose wisely. Working on what’s most important to use and that we feel will have the biggest impact isn’t always possible. Let me give you an example. Let’s say one of your definitions of success is to move to a nicer neighborhood and into a bigger house. That will involve selling your home, and to make sure you get the best price possible, you want to do some major decluttering, cleaning, and some minor renovations. Your goal for this week may be to repaint the living room. Then your kid gets sick with a stomach bug. Painting the living room is no longer feasible. So, you adjust and do a little kitchen decluttering in between tending your child.
Sometimes our priorities have to change, and shift based on our circumstances and our environment. It happens, and it’s ok. Do what you can and get back to what you perceive as the highest priorities when it’s feasible.