I run a couple of small businesses right now. I also advise two others. Much of my time is spent helping the people I work with identify priorities.
What should they be focused on? What is their priority?
It is the priority that dictates the choices we make. More often than not we’re in position to make choices based on our priorities. I’ve worked with people who cherished such constraints. So much so that they would create them artificially (I believe creating artificial constraints is an incredibly powerful force, depending on the constraints you dictate of course). I have my own philosophy on creating constraints that I’ll write about at some point — as time permits.
If we focus on the priority we can be motivated in good times (or when there is no other choice). We can also be demotivated because of the constraint that we’ve committed so much time to; that may not be working out as well as we had planned.
There is always then a discussion about whether or not we have the right priority. That’s an easy discussion. Because often times, it’s easy to change. Simply adjust the priority and you either have new goals that are more attainable or, you at the very least, have no priorities that can be invigorating purely because … they are new.
These are easy discussions at work. At home, they are sometimes not so easy. The choices we make are more permanent. Which is why I think it’s most important to realize that before the priority, came a choice.
Instead of the priority dictating the choice in our personal lives we must never forget that it is our choices that dictate our priorities. To go to college (and beyond). Where we live. What career we choose to pursue (and what environments we choose to work within). Who we marry. And perhaps penultimately, whether we choose to have kids.
Each one of those choices dictates another set of priorities. And along the way, each one of those decisions elevates a set of priorities and clarifies a future set of choices.
Of all the choices, the most unique one is the decision to have kids. Whereas all other choices are ones that are designed to make you better, to advance your self — I’ve often told the people I love, the people I work with, the (few and far between) people who (stumble into) asking me questions about life — I’ve often told these people that the two most selfish decisions you make in your life should be (1) the career you choose (and as a subset, the jobs you take and the people you choose to work for) and (2) the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with.
Those are the two most selfish decisions one can make. And if made selfishly, they end up being the most valuable decisions and personally advancing decisions you can make.
Kids, however, are something else. They become the most selfless decision you can make You have to embrace and realize that more than anything else, all decisions from the moment of conception or birth forward, are made with their life, their livelihood, their success, as the top priority.
I often hear parents talk about life with kids as a limitation and restriction on
choices. I don’t feel that way. I never have. And after this past year and this past few weeks as time to reflect around the annual approach of important Indian and US holidays — I realize kids aren’t restricting.
They were my choice. They were more honestly our choice. Our BEST choice.
And they will always be, as a result, our top priority going forward. Ourselves, dutifully, practically, deliberately, in service.