Knowing your priorities is one of the most important things you can do in life and in business. When you know your priorities, you can make decisions that you stand by every time. Here is a story about how I learned what was important to me.

Every so often I get the opportunity to help new entrepreneurs figure out how to get going and how to run their businesses. During one of these meetings, I was asked how I set my priorities and it reminded me of how I once approached business, how it affected me, and what I changed after losing something dear to me.

The Story

It was years ago now. I was in a great relationship with a beautiful woman, I was running a business that was making money, and for the most part, the business paid for everything in our lives. The business paid for the:

  • Mortgage
  • Car
  • Insurance
  • Electricity
  • Food
  • Phones
  • Internet
  • Pretty much everything

Everything seemed so good. We had money, we had time, we had friends, we seemed to have it all.

There was a certain point in our relationship where she called me in a bad situation, needed help and support, mostly support. It was something that was important to her, but I was in the middle of a really big closing on a contract for the business. I ended up telling her that I would take care of her as soon as I could, but that I had to finish with work first. At the time, with the experience I had, it really reasonable.

The Mistake

What I did was put the business ahead of my relationship, not just in that one situation, but in almost all situations. This was a major reason that the relationship ended. I thought that we were on the same page about what was important, but in the end, I was the one who didn’t understand my priorities and putting the business ahead of my relationships sacrificed something I cherished. I knew deep down that I did actually care more about the relationship than about the business, but I couldn’t see it at the time, and I didn’t understand how to balance. It wasn’t an overnight thing, but it ended slowly because I didn’t understand what was important to me and we were not aligned.

The Lesson: You have to KNOW your priorities.

You don’t learn from your successes, you learn from your mistakes, and losing that relationship helped me understand what was really important to me.

Once you understand what’s first, second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. in your life, then your decision-making process is really easy, and you can stand by your decisions under your own scrutiny or that of others. Getting this straight for myself helped me understand that my relationships are the most important things and that if my partner is struggling the business can burn to the ground while I take care of her. Because if I don’t have that relationship, the business isn’t worth it. No business is worth giving away what’s truly dear to you.

What I Gained

After that experience, I was able to have much more clarity on my priorities. Now, it’s so easy for me to say I don’t really care what’s going on with business if my family member or my partner is having a problem.

But it doesn’t just stop there.

Knowing your priorities helps you understand what can wait and what needs to go, where your time should be spent, and how your life should be lived.

For me, it’s family first and then business, but maybe it’s not for you. Either way, if you know what those priorities are your life will be easier and your direction will be substantially more clear.