I have no idea when priority, meaning “prime concern, first concern, matter of greatest importance” and “a thing that is regarded as more important than another” or the British definition of “the right to take precedence or to proceed before others”, became accepted as a plural word.
By definition, and for all practical reason, only one thing can be a priority. To think we can focus on a long-list of priorities simultaneously, can only lead to overwhelm and exhaustion. Scattered attention rarely contributes to exceptional results.
Now, in today’s culture of busyness and overwhelming obligations, we’re offered an endless supply of “like to do”, “want to do” and “have to do”. As a result, it’s common to hear people say, “I need to get my priorities in order”. What? How can more than one thing be a priority?
“The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular.
It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.
Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality.
… and somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things.–Greg McKeown, Essentialism
While I do believe we all have a substantial list of things to do, there is and can only be one priority at a time. We only have so much time in the day to “get in” everything we want in order to move towards higher life satisfaction.
By adopting McKeown’s perspective on doing what’s essential, I’ve found great relief and have made significant progress by eliminating the less important items on my “to-do list”. It’s freeing. I have more time and feel less pressure, especially doing something I’d rather not. This freedom leads to more focus and creativity, and helps me achieve a more desirable outcome. Essentialism is a wonderful read and great reminder to honor what is truly most essential in our life.
It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.Bruce Lee
Do you find yourself struggling with too many priorities? Not everything has the same exact importance to you. Make a list each week and focus on your top three tasks or projects, and start with the one that is most important to you and you believe makes life better or will make life better. You’ll be surprised how well your days begin to flow and the systematic progress you make your dreams a reality. You will thrive! ❤
Keep it Simple,