I have learned many different things in my lifetime that have helped me greatly, but perhaps nothing has helped me more than understanding the difference between those things that are IMPORTANT compared to those things that are URGENT.
Have you ever noticed that the things that are urgent always seem to crowd out the ones that are truly important? The things that are urgent are always “in your face” trying to get your attention, requiring you to make a quick decision. Seldom is a quick decision a wise decision!
I have observed that there are some people who live their lives with very little margin and who always wait until the last minute to do things. They live in a state of urgency. They have to make last minute decisions that are not very wise, and are usually costly.
If you have ever waited until the last minute to make an airline reservation, you know exactly what I am talking about. However, if you see the importance of making a reservation at least two to three weeks before your travel date, you will also see the benefits of living your life by what is important rather than by what is urgent.
The advertising industry appeals to that sense of urgency when they make you think that if you do not act quickly, you will miss their golden opportunity and there will never be another chance in your lifetime! Today…right now…will be the last time this wonderful, incredible, fantastic, stupendous offer will be made! Act now! Does any of that sound familiar? It is the stuff of which advertising is made. While sometimes their claim may be true, I have found that almost any great deal that you miss will come along again in the near future.
When I was growing up, my parents both warned me regarding this appeal to the urgent. My mother would often tell me to beware of people who were trying to rush me or force me into a quick decision. She said that it should be a red flag of warning to me because whatever people were rushing me into doing was probably wrong, or at the very least, not wise. And, I can still hear my father saying, “Great deals are like buses…if you miss one now, there will be another one to come along in a few minutes.”
Some things never change, regardless of your age. The older you get, the more you will see how essential it is to live by what is important, not by what is urgent. Yet, those two choices will always be available to your particular set of circumstances. I have learned, or I should say that I am continuing to learn, that as long as I focus on doing what is important rather than being driven by what is urgent, I am making a wise choice. I have waited for many years for the urgent to “back off” from what is important, but so far, it has not done so. It continues to try and pressure me daily to “hurry up!” And in talking with people who are older and wiser than me, I do not believe it ever will. We will always face the choice of doing what is important over what seems urgent.
I am sure you have heard of the discipline of making a daily “to-do” list and then numbering each item you write down according to its priority. You should always start with the most important item first and make it number one; then the next most important item on your list will be number two and so on as you work your way down your daily list. However, be aware that as you are working on what is important all of the other items on your list will be yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!” If you stick to your plan, at the end of the day you will have done what was important. Even if you were not able to accomplish all of the other items on your list, you will have accomplished the things that were important first. The other “urgent things” you had written down on your list can be done in good time if you keep your priorities straight and in order. And, you will have avoided the tyranny of the urgent…URGENT!
Chew on this information. I don’t know about you, but I have found that living by what is important rather than by what is urgent, always puts me in a better position to live with peace in my heart and make wise decisions and to do the next right thing. I trust that will be your experience as well.
Tip: Beware of the tyranny of the urgent…URGENT!!!!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Roh