Choose Your Own Adventure

As you make your way through school and progress through your career, the hope is that you will continue to acquire all sorts of skills and gain all sorts of knowledge. By learning how to touch type, you’re able to write documents far more quickly than if you had to spend the whole time staring down at the keyboard. By learning how to change a tire on a car, you don’t have to rely on roadside assistance to help you when you get a flat.

But then there is one life skill in particular that will come in handy regardless of the profession you choose or the circumstances in which you find yourself.

The Ability to Prioritize Quickly and Effectively

Think for a moment how this life skill is applicable in both your professional and your personal life. You sit there, faced with what might appear to be an impossible to-do list. You think that you’ll never see the end of it. You start working on the simplest, fastest and easiest tasks, because they’re the most approachable. However, you end up leaving the more important tasks undone and your life suffers as a result.

Let’s say you instead take on a more challenging task first. The problem is it might be so difficult that you spend more time struggling with what to do than actually doing anything, neglecting all the other tasks on your list. That’s not a good scenario either. If you’re able to prioritize the tasks on your to-do list quickly, though, you can focus on what matters most and get down to work right away.

Avoiding the Problem of Buyer’s Remorse

Another very common scenario is when you go shopping for something. You might do a little online research ahead of time or you might just browse the shops at the mall. Faced with too many options and too many possibilities, you can get stuck in indecision and end up buying nothing at all. Or you might come to regret what you ultimately choose after wasting days or weeks of waffling.

What about when you’re at the supermarket and you’re trying to decide which box of cereal you should buy? Or whether you should buy your cereal at this store, where it might be 50 cents more, or at the grocery store at the other end of town where it might be 50 cents less? You shouldn’t waste your time on these mostly inconsequential decisions. That’s part of the reason why Steve Jobs, for instance, always wore the same thing to work. It’s a decision that didn’t matter, so he effectively eliminated it.

Don’t Look Back If You Want to Move Forward

I’m not saying that you should go about life making snap decisions based on very little information. What I am saying is that having the ability to define your priorities as quickly and as effectively as possible can make your life incredibly easier. You can get a lot more done when you are decisive, not wasting time on second guessing yourself. By saying no to distractions and busywork, you can focus on your real priorities and keep moving forward.

And when you stick to your decisions, you avoid the perils of regret… but first, you must decide on and commit yourself to your most important goals in life. Otherwise, you could end up working against yourself, sabotaging one objective in favor of another. Just make up your mind and go with it.

Choose your own adventure and make it truly yours.