In contrast with the Urgency Paradigm, Stephen Covey talks about the Importance Paradigm: thus, the title First Things First. The key thing is to figure out what your first things are and I’ve recently had to re-evaluate my own first things.
For example, before I would prioritize my dream-building work, like my memoir and other long-term projects. I had justifications for this, namely that they were of greater long-term importance. Then I had the stunning realization that if I don’t work for pay, then my family doesn’t get the things they need. Awe inspiring how brilliantly practical I can be, isn’t it?
Of course, it’s not that I wasn’t working. It’s that I only had so much energy and working on my long-term projects took all of it. When I was healthier I was able, more or less, to do both consistently. When I couldn’t, I chose to do what “mattered,” i.e. the projects that would have the most impact on the world in the long-run.
The unacceptable result was that I didn’t make any money.
The Importance Paradigm, at least as far as I’m concerned, balances the importance of now with the importance of later. Dreams matter. But so does practicalities. By serving both with integrity, everything that is important can be satisfied. It’s called balance.
I’m not there yet, but I keep getting just that much closer.