Who’s Your Priority?
Do you often find yourself staying at work an hour or two longer than anticipated trying to reply to all your messages? If this is a constant problem, you’re most likely shortchanging your family. North Point Ministries Senior Pastor Andy Stanley recommends sitting down with your family, looking them in the eye, and saying:
“I just want to apologize upfront to all of you, because I’m going to be home a few hours late each night this week. I’m going to prioritize emails, phone messages, texts, and tweets from strangers. I also don’t know the subject matter. But, when I receive these messages in the future, I’m going to prioritize them ahead of you. To be clear, what I’m saying is, answering these messages is more important to me than you are.”
Sounds ridiculous? Of course it does. I’m guessing no one reading this book has ever sat their family down for such a discussion. Yet, this is exactly the message we send our loved ones every time we engage in this behavior. Our actions speak louder than words.
We also do it to ourselves. We often sabotage our goals and dreams. Try this exercise. Write your goals on pieces of paper and tape them to your mirror. Address your goals and yourself in the mirror and repeat the paragraph you wanted to say to your family, only this time you’re saying it to yourself about your goals. Essentially, you will tell yourself that your goals will be secondary to future whims, messages, and unknown requests. It sounds like a silly exercise, but it’s what most of us do. We are prioritizing future emails, texts, requests, tweets, and beyond over our passions and purpose in life.
Bottom line: If we say yes to everyone, we are essentially saying no to everyone.
The feeling of letting people down by saying “no” will decrease the more you practice, but it never truly goes away. To help in these moments, remind yourself that by saying “no” today I can say “yes” to someone or something in the future. It’s a simple phrase: By saying no today, I can say yes tomorrow. The inverse is that by saying “yes” today, you have said “no” to something in the future. Make your yeses count.
We can’t accomplish big things if we are a slave to small things.
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