If You’re Not Prioritizing Who Matters Most, You’re Wasting Your Life

When it comes to business planning for next year, you can talk all you want about 5x-ing your income or 10x-ing your income, but if you’re not prioritizing who matters most, you’re wasting your life.

Of course when we talk about business planning for next year, you do need to know numerics and you do need to have a plan of where you want to get to with your business. But don’t lose sight of who matters most in your life. We had our son attend a private college in California, and as a freshman after the first week of classes, we got a phone call from him. He mentioned to us some of the content that he had heard that week. From most of his professors, he’d heard comments like, “You have to realize you’re privileged to attend this university. How are you going to repay that favor and influence the world,” or, “You need to realize you come from a fortunate background. How are you going to pay that forward and really use your skill sets to make a huge impact on the world.” We got a phone call from Jack one evening, and he said, “Mom and Dad, what if I just want to get a great job that I really enjoy, but most importantly be a great husband and be a wonderful father? Surely that’s succeeding.” We loved hearing that. That is succeeding. You can be wildly successful in business but have your private life crater. Recently I watched a documentary, Inside Bill’s Mind, and it was talking about being inside the mind of Bill Gates. It was a three-part documentary series about just how he thinks. It was fascinating when on the final episode the producer of the program was talking with him about his biggest initiatives – about irradicating polio, about setting up a nuclear program where China and the US would actually cooperate with each other – some huge, enormous things. Finally in Bill’s office, the interviewer said to him, “So imagine if you were hit by a bus. What would be the one thing that you would so regret, that you would say to yourself, ‘Oh, if only I could have done that!’?” There was silence, and Bill Gates looked at the camera and said, “I wish I had thanked Melinda more.” It was a really poignant moment when you think about all the stuff that guy has going on in his head (he is absolutely brilliant, and I recommend you watch the series) to then come back to that one most important point about thanking his wife. He has phenomenal plans, but he’s never lost sight of the person who counts most. First, thinking about what a coach does, they have a plan. They outline a plan and a projected timeline that they’ll take to get to their aspirations. When I was swimming, for instance, my coach and I laid down a thirteen-year plan that would eventually take me to the Olympic Games and win a medal. So, we had our long-term plan. Second, and importantly, that coach keeps that person in emotional check, so to speak. When I was swimming, my coach would see me get frustrated. Oftentimes he would have me out of the pool at the end of the workout, and he’d sit down, and he’d say, “Hey, we are on track. We just need to stick to the plan. I know you might not be feeling as good as what you wanted to feel. I know the clock says you’re not swimming as fast right now as you want to swim, but no one’s handing out Olympic medals today, right? We’ve still got two months to go. Let’s just stick with the plan.”

To do this most effectively,

  1. Make some quiet time. Get away from the office, get away from distractions and make some quiet time to think about who is most important to you in your life.
  2. Write that down. Record it and record what you want to do as far as appreciating them, or something that you want to get involved in that is outside of just finance and your business success – something a little more altruistic, about a cause, maybe in your local community that you want to allocate time toward.
  3. Calendar it specifically. Put it on an actual day and time block. Don’t just keep it on the to-do list, but actually calendar it. That will help you ensure you actually take care of whatever you deem fit to be priority number one in your life.
So, plan wonderfully for next year about all the things you want to aspire to and achieve, but don’t forget to prioritize the people who are most important in your life. Related: The Power of Genuine Encouragement