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Setting Priorities

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

I’m tired just thinking about it! My hat’s off to you guys. I realize the load you carry not only at work, but in your personal life as well. You balance career and family and are often overworked and under appreciated for all you contribute. Today, I want to acknowledge you by sharing some information my clients highly value because I am so impressed by what you do for others. Because your workload is so full, I’m going to share my secret for successful prioritization.


It all started many years ago when I was working on my undergraduate degree. I had a very practical professor named David LeGrand. He rocked my world when he said “To do” lists are nothing more than guilt inducers. He shared how prioritizing things in your life often leaves you stuck in the same old rut because you never get around to the lower priorities in life. For that reason, you spend your whole life feeling guilty for the things you never got around to.

I spent many years mulling that over. How can I set priorities without a list? How do I get out of this rut and get around to all the priorities of life? That’s when it dawned on me . . . lists won’t take me where I need to go, but wheels will. I had stumbled upon the secret of prioritization! The priorities of life should never be points on a list, they should instead be spokes on a wheel.

But before we go any further, there are a few facts about a wheel you need to understand before you can fully appreciate where it takes you. First, which spoke is most important? On first thought you might say, “They’re all equally important.” That would be wrong. Right now, one spoke is more important than any of the rest. Give up? It’s the one on the bottom. Why? Because at this point in time it’s the one carrying all the weight. The others are all necessary, but the one at the bottom is essential. Let’s turn the wheel. Which one is most important now? Again? Again? That’s right its always the one at the bottom. The most important spoke is always at the bottom, but it’s never the same.

Think about that for a second. When one spoke always remains in the most important position you’re not going anywhere! The same is true with priorities. When your first priority takes precedence over everything else . . . you're stuck. What’s even worse, is when your priorities all assume, they’re your “number one” and they’re all demanding of you at the same time. The wheel causes you to realize you’re not neglecting anyone or anything in your life because the sweet thing about a wheel is everything eventually comes back around if you keep making forward progress.

Do you realize how freeing that is? No longer do you need to feel guilty when you are doing something you planned but someone/thing who thinks they occupy a “higher priority” in your life makes the case that you’re neglecting them. You can now simply look them in the eye and let them know that they are important to you and you are confident you will soon get around to their needs because they will soon be your number one priority.

That was just one fact about the wheel. The next thing you need to know is that there are more elements to a wheel than just the spokes. You also have the hub. It is the thing to which every spoke connects. It occupies the center of your life. The question is, “What occupies the center of your life?” “To what does every priority in your life connect?” Some might suggest “self.” Others might say “my kids.” Those are both great answers, but I would suggest that a self-centered life will never bring you any lasting joy, and a kid-centered life will only bring you joy until they grow up and move away to start lives of their own leaving you behind with a big empty hole in the center of your life. Whatever is in the center of your life is your purpose for living. It’s the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning.

The next element of the wheel is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where life takes you and how fast you get there. The tire is your timeline. Every priority in your life needs to fall under the authority of your time management. Spokes love to remain in the number one spot but remember, spokes that don’t submit to the momentum of the whole wheel bring everything to a screeching halt. Control your priorities, don’t let your priorities control you.

Now, let’s unwrap this secret the rest of the way. Your priority wheel is your strategic plan, be it a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly schedule. Assign every priority in life a start and an end, and know that what didn’t get done today you will eventually get back around to later.

Take it easy guys. Life’s too short to stress out about it all. You’ll eventually get around to it. Just keep rolling on!

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