Get Your Priorities Straight!

Here's a true story I'd like to tell you. It's about one of the few people I ever "gave up on" in my one-on-one coaching. Of course, his real name will not be used, but we will call him John for the sake of the telling.

John was an up-and-coming young man who had already found some success in life. He had loads of unrealized potential, but he felt like he had hit a ceiling. Wanting to re-energize his career, he came to me for guidance. We talked for a while and before we concluded that first session, I gave him a list of books to read that I thought would be of help.

A week later, we met again and I asked how the reading was going. He told me he had looked for the books but they all cost more than he could afford at the time. I know what it is like to be short on cash so I gave him a pass. Since I have hundreds of books in my home library, I loaned him a couple of my own volumes to read.

A couple of days later, I happened to be eating at one of the nicer restaurants in the area. You know, the ones where even the water has bubbles and you need a translator to order from the menu. There was John and his wife enjoying a meal that I know from the menu went way north of two hundred dollars.

The following week, we met again and I asked him about his reading. He again told me that the books were "too expensive", so I asked him about the ones I had loaned him. His response was that he "didn't have time to start on them". He went on to say that he planned to spend Sunday afternoon reading but a friend gave him tickets to the ball game. It was at that point that I knew there was not much I could do to help him. I told him that our meetings were finished and that he could keep the books for when he got his priorities straight.

You may be thinking that this response was a little too harsh, but it was obvious that he wasn't ready for my help. The cost of one meal would have been enough to buy all the books I suggested. Out of the 168 hours in the week, he couldn't find 30 minutes to read?

Now, don't think that I am just picking on John, because his story is not unique. Just about everyone gets their priorities out of whack at some point. Do any of these examples sound familiar:

  • We can't afford healthy groceries, but we can eat out three times a week.

  • We don't have time to exercise or play with our kids, but we can kill hours in front of the television or surfing the internet.

  • We don't have the money to take a class or buy a gift for our partner, but we have no problem buying the latest iPhone or sneakers.

There is a saying that I'm sure most of us have heard: "Put your money, where your mouth is." My interpretation of this is that you must take action to support your vision of the future.

My challenge for you this week:

Paint a vivid picture in your mind of what you would like the future to look like, then write down those things that are important to you.

  • What do you desire to be, do, or have?

  • Does your money expenditures confirm that you are investing in your future?

  • Does the allotted time that you spend per day on activities, such as reading, workshops, and networking advance your personal and professional goals?

  • For the next week, track your hours in terms of whether your are advancing yourself or wasting value time.

This exercise will provide valuable insight that will help you get your priorities straight!

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