Put First Things First: Covey’s third habit and how we are all doing the same mistake

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a literary masterpiece written by the educator, businessman and author Steven Covey. Each and every habit demands a separate discussion and explanation, such as the inner meaning of them. “Put First Thing First” is the 3rd habit out of total 7 in this book and today we will talk about this one.

Prioritizing: Do you know what’s really important?

So, what does “put first thing first” mean? It literally means you should prioritize what you do in your daily life. You guessed that already, like almost everybody else. This can’t be any simpler, right? Wrong! How did you ask? Let’s find out.

There’s no doubt what Covey wanted to say by “put first things first.” This is nothing new, we heard this since we were a child. However, there’s a huge difference between what we think important and what really is important in our life, and most of us fall for this trap. We always prioritize things which “seem” most urgent and vital to us, without thinking deeply that are those really such important in our life? Covey understands this dilemma well and discussed that in details.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

According to Covey in his book, are these things, which we are prioritizing over others, really deserve to be in our priority list? For example –

  1. In case if you have to choose a between a crucial meeting with your boss regarding your promotion and to be present in the labor room of the hospital where your wife is giving birth to your first baby?

2.If you have to choose between the answering an email came from the company where you applied for a job between answering a phone call from your girlfriend’s father and you know he is going to talk about your relationship with your girlfriend – which one you’ll answer first?

Can you see there’s a trap for you? In the above situations, the first thing is always regarding something huge and radical in your professional life, and the later is regarding some life-changing events of your personal life. This is a trap, and before you answer the questions, I know what you’d do if you get into the exact situations like above. Most of us would choose the professional commitment over the personal one. There’s a very simple logic behind this –

We take essential persons in our personal life like our father, mother, siblings, girlfriend, wife, kids, and relationships with them for granted. Somehow in our mind, we always expect them to understand your professional situation, and we hope they still love and care for you same way forever. You miss the moment your wife giving birth to your first baby, you miss the urgent phone call from your girlfriend’s father, you miss the doctor’s appointment regarding your father’s health, you miss the final football match of your brother – did you realize how much of your life you missed so far?

Here Covey warned us of this trap. The things we usually prioritize over other things, most of the time those are not the “real important” things. When job and professional commitments are important undoubtedly; the real urgent matters may be waiting for your attention since long. We should re-evaluate our priority list once in a while.

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