Early tomorrow morning I’m supposed to be getting on a flight to Las Vegas for a 3 day business conference…
… but unfortunately I won’t be going.
One of my cats has been recently diagnosed with cancer and she has a tumour in an inconvenient place (that’s enough information I think). This means that any day, once the tumour grows just that bit too big, I’ll have to have her put to sleep. The trouble is the vet couldn’t say whether that would be 2 weeks ago, tonight, this week, or later in the month. He could tell me that he couldn’t guarantee her still being alive when I got back, if I went to Vegas.
So I’m sure there will be plenty of you saying, “it’s just a cat, get on the plane”, but I know there will be other’s that understand that a cat you’ve had for 15 years is part of the family. I don’t have children and she is my baby, I could never live with myself if I left her to die and I wasn’t here to cuddle her and say good-bye.
But this isn’t an email about the mad cat lady, it’s about priorities and the hard choices we have to make.
I’m gutted not to be going on my big adventure. I’ve never been to the States and Vegas is certainly not the sort of place I would choose to go to under normal circumstances, so it was going to be something completely different and an exciting trip for a few days, not to mention the learning and listening to Sir Richard Branson speak. However, the event is being streamed live so I can still see the content and Vegas will be there another time but my cat clearly won’t, so the choice was made.
Choosing your priorities isn’t always about putting family first. Those of you who know Nigel Botterill will have heard him say many a time that he is either being a good dad/husband OR a good boss – rarely can he do all of them at the same time. It’s about recognising what the priority is now, what needs your attention the most at this time, and being prepared to balance it out at a later date if necessary.
And don’t mistake priority with urgency. I’ve talked before about the Covey Urgent/Important Matrix. Things that are urgent aren’t necessarily important, and visa-versa. It’s usually the smaller things that get thrown at you on a daily basis that seem to be urgent and so take priority over the bigger things that are actually more important but somehow have to wait.
Obviously I can’t ask Ellouise’s tumour to hang on and stop growing whilst I fly off to Vegas, so my priority was clear but sometimes you might have to think about it a bit harder. Whether this is day-to-day tasks you need to prioritise or bigger issues and projects, there will be some that are urgent but not important and you need to learn to be able to focus on the important things as a priority.