16. Your first priority should be you

Apr 27, 2020

Your first priority should be you. If you don’t take care of yourself first you won’t be much use to anyone else. 


One way to get stuck is to get your priorities wrong. Getting them right is harder than it sounds. When I started personal training I worked with a bunch of people who were older than me. I was 20 ish and spent my days walking clients through exercise sessions. It doesn’t take many counted out loud sets for the conversation to shift to the person exercising. In those talks I learned a lot about how people prioritize their life. The senior manager for a local hospital had his career and sons at the top of his list. The principal of a high tuition private elementary school had her teachers and students at the top of her list. Mothers from their early 20’s to their 60’s had their children or grandchildren at the peak of their list. My point is that not everyone agrees on what is most important. We should. 


When there is a potential for physical harm priority is easily assigned to the threat. Emergencies are similar in that they command attention and action from those involved. Outside of these two circumstances we have a hard time what is most important at any given time. It’s a subjective call and as such it involves emotions. Once those are allowed into an equation the whole prospect of coming to a universal answer is shot. People make bad decisions when emotions are flowing. 


I am a huge proponent of making yourself your top priority. You are almost worthless in any other capacity if you fail to take care of yourself. The hospital head who worked 60 hours a week, barely slept and drank too much got arrested driving his kids to and from their sports leagues intoxicated. The principal who was infatuated with teaching and running her school had to take time off from school because she hurt her overly tight back which wasn’t helped by the extra 50 pounds of fat she was lugging around. Making you priority number one means your health and finances are first and second on the list. Once those are in good shape you are in a position to expand outward in an order that goes something like this: 


  1. You
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Work
  5. Town
  6. State
  7. Country
  8. World

You may disagree with the list and there are exceptions that can obviously be made. If you have a way to help your country or the world don’t ignore it. But such a case is rare. It is more likely that you will wonder whether you should work late or go to the gym. The correct answer is the gym. You will know when to make exceptions.

I think you should be selfish when it comes to your health, fitness, nutrition and finances. Your job or employer may be tightly woven in there but if you are constantly battling with whether to work or take care of yourself you should rethink your work situation.

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