The marginal priorities zone

Let’s say we were to rank all the things you want to do regularly.

Near the top might be seeing your friends and family, engaging in your hobbies, and watching sports games. You do these things often and you enjoy them.

The bottom of the list would include things you never do (because you don’t want to do them); perhaps they include salsa dancing, hiking up mountains, or getting your nails done.

It’s probably fairly clear to you what’s near the top of your list, and what’s near the bottom. What’s in the middle, though?

Which things do you tell yourself that you would do, if only you had more time? Which things are theoretically a priority—but do you in practice rarely get to?

I call this the marginal priorities zone.

It’s where we find all those activities about which we say, “I wish I had the time to do more of that“.

The marginal priorities zone could include activities that would be good for you in the long term, but that aren’t fun for you right now. For some people this zone might include working out or preparing a healthy meal; for others, spending more time with their family or cleaning up their kitchen.

I challenge you to move as many activities as possible out of this zone.

Rather than, “I would work out more if I had just a little more time”, either admit to yourself that you’re working out exactly as much as you really want to, or work out more often.

No more intending to do something every day, but in practice only doing it once or twice a week. No more claiming (to yourself or to others) that you’d like to visit your family for dinner every month—and then only doing so twice a year.

That’s just lying. And those lies can make you, as well as others, feel bad.


— Peter

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