Have you heard this saying? I hadn’t, and then I heard it twice in two days. Usually when that happens, I think that someone’s trying to tell me something.
On the surface it sounds like a nice, simple, common sense piece of advice. Figure out what’s most important and concentrate on that. Everything else will fall into place.
It’s a very appealing credo to live by. It makes sense. Make decisions based on whether or not they further your main goal. Set priorities according to your core belief. Spend your time and money on what is valuable to you.
Late on Sunday afternoon, I find myself feeling a little bit frazzled. I still have some things on today’s to do list; things that “must” get done before Monday, and the start of another week. I also have a number of longer term to do’s that are hanging over my head. Things that don’t have to be done today, but are inconveniently casting a shadow over me just by existing.
None of these things are the main thing. Probably, truth be told, lots of these things don’t even contribute anything towards the main thing. In fact, some of these things might even detract from the main thing.
And yet, for various reasons, I feel compelled to do these things.
And so, how am I going to put keeping the main thing the main thing into practice in my life?
First things first, I need to work out what the main thing is.
Secondly, I need to train myself to keep the main thing uppermost in my mind. To measure my daily tasks and choices against the main thing.
Thirdly, I need to eliminate from my life anything that works in opposition to the main thing.
Lastly, I need to remember that it’s the main thing, not the only thing. There will always be other things that need to get done. The important thing is to keep them in their place so that they don’t take up too much space in my life. I need to free up plenty of time, energy and attention for the main thing.
I think I know what you’re going to ask.
What is the main thing?
Good question. And I’ve got another one for you: Do you have to have just one main thing? After all, life is very complex and we have many different roles and relationships within it. Surely we need to create a set of “main things”? Maybe five or six?
I don’t think so. I think that misses the point of this very powerful statement. I think that in deciding to keep the main thing the main thing, you are forced to take an honest look at yourself and choose to crystallise your focus until you have figured out what the one main thing is.
What do you think? Do you think that it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing? Or perhaps you think that it’s too simplistic. Or too difficult, taking too much thought and commitment?
Have you ever been struck by a powerful proverb or piece of advice? Do you have a philosophy that you live by?