As a college professor, one of the most common statements I hear from students is just how important school is to them. Of course, this is always the opening line in an attempt to get past my no late work policy. “You have to understand, school is a top priority for me,” they say. Followed by, “Life just got really busy, but it means a lot, that’s why I have to make up the missed paper, test, essay, etc. I am willing to do whatever it takes.”
The funny thing about priorities is that they never lie. Those things that matter most to us are what we spend our time, energy and effort on, no matter the cost. I like my students to learn this lesson early on. That is why I have a very unbreakable no late policy. If school is a priority, I expect my students to meet the set deadlines.
I remember my own education. I got my MBA while working full time and traveling around the country for my job, but I never turned in an assignment late. I worked late, sometimes until 3 in the morning, but it was a priority so I got it done. The point is this: we will succeed at what matters most to us. Our real priorities can’t hide behind the lies that we tell ourselves. If changing your life, upgrading your career, or pulling your business up to the next level is a priority, then everything you do will revolve around this goal.
Sadly, most of us, in reality, have much lower ambitions than we want to admit. Our true priorities are unveiled as we watch one more episode on Netflix instead of taking that walk to lose the 10 pounds. Our true priorities breakthrough as we spend one more hour in the office, forsaking a promise to be at a family function. Our true priorities taunt us as we complain bitterly about the lack of success in our business or career, but we never stop complaining to actually look for a solution and take a step forward.
Priorities can tell us a lot about ourselves. The good news is that priorities can change. First, we have to recognize that the results and actions of our current life are in direct correlation to our true priorities. So, if you’re not happy with where you are headed, take a hard, honest look at what your priorities are. What do you spend the bulk of your time doing? What gets in the way of your dreams and goals? These are your current priorities. Learn to recognize them so that you can replace them with new priorities that more closely line up with where you want to be, and where you want to go.