The word “priority” was introduced into the English language in the 1400’s. It was a singular. It meant the very first, or “prior” thing. It stayed singular for 500 years. It wasn’t until the 1900’s when we decided to pluralize the word to “priorities”

We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking we can have multiple “first things”, in essence, bending reality. We’re often asked: “How are you?” and usually default to, *sigh*, big exhale, “Busy.”

We talk about prioritieS how our plate is full, so many things going on, can’t even talk about them all.

What if there’s more to our leaning towards talking about prioritieS, and being overwhelmingly busy?

Could we be…

  • Feeling a little out of control?

  • Not wanting people to think we have downtime? Leisure? Joy?

  • Using priorities as a crutch to avoid making tough decisions on what to make #1?

We might be beating up the plural version of priority for no good reason. But could we be masking a fear of not knowing what’s really, really important in a given moment? Or a fear of committing all of our energy to one thing? Or our team’s energy?

Unfortunately, our #1 thing can shift from day-to-day or hour-to-hour. How can you better protect your priority? How can you better negotiate your priority? Usually if you don’t set your #1 thing, your highest value contribution, someone else will, from their value perspective.

Using “prioritieS” helps us polish the badge of busy. Committing to the #1 thing can bring out surprising resourcefulness that might have been hiding, and a new freedom from overwhelm. This was inspired by the book, Essentialism, and my amazing clients that are doing hard work on change for themselves.

Here are a few related resources that I’ve enjoyed recently and have been sharing:

1 // We sit in meetings that aren’t our priority with a capital P. Or we signal that “this meeting isn’t important to me”. Priya Parker talks about the “Art of Gathering” on this podcast episode of A Slight Change of Plans. Notice that gathering” means more than a dinner party, and Priya shares how we can gather together better. (42 min listen)

2 // Are “priorities” a form of procrastination? This post talks about the Time Traveling Mistake We Make When Procrastinating. (5 min read)

3 // “Discipline can be used to show up regularly for what matters, but it’s only through acceptance where you can be content with whatever the current moment has to offer.” More To That talks about The Tightrope of Discipline, which reminded me of our power of choice in naming the #1 thing in a given moment. (5 min read)

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P.S. – I’m going to be changing things up and sending this newsletter more often. Mostly it will be shorter, but once a month it will be longer like this one. As always, I’d love to hear if you’ve found anything useful in what I share!

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