I need to prioritise my goddamn priorities

We all have many priorities in the smash and grab, hustle and bustle of modern life.

I have priorities for today, priorities for this week, for this month, for this year and for my whole life. Stuff I want or need to get done to improve, or to move to the next phase of my career or life. I prioritise things and/or people that are of the utmost importance to me.

I used to find, particularly in relation to work, that I had maybe 6-7 priorities a day, maybe 30-40 a month and up to 100 a year.

However, I then realised that I used to reach a mean success rate of 40% achieving those priorities. Basically I’d work really hard and yet end up failing to satisfy even half of them.

And then I found out, from a man way smarter than me, that the word priority, before about 1910, used to mean only 1. One. Uno. Un. တစ် (for the Burmese amongst us).

Ahhhh, you’re only meant to have ONE priority. Not 10. They say that over the last 100 years, we humans have developed our knowledge, understanding and lives more than during the previous 75,000 years but one thing that did slip us by was the true meaning of ‘Priority’.

Now, instead of having 10 priorities, I have 1. And guess what? Yeah, I nail it, complete it, finish it, immerse myself in it until it is done, or at least able to sail on its own. And then I move on to the next priority and complete that.

When we work with our clients, as you all know by now, we use our skills to understand what is important to them. What are their priorities? Usually people have between 3 and 10.

The real trick we’ve learnt recently is to whittle it down to 1. What is the 1 most important thing in your life? When we know that, we make that the number 1 priority and we go after it hard, together. And then we repeat.

Guess what, it works.


Alfie Mullan, October 2018