The Priorities Hierarchy – Set your No. 1 because you ARE your Priorities!

It became clear to me recently how important priorities are. There are always a range of values and important ideas we hold at once – but how do we manage the competition and tension between values, ideas, and the things we want to achieve? 


What do you do when you can’t have it all? When forced to decide between two priorities that come head-to-head?


This got me thinking about how I rank my priorities. These priorities direct decision-making and the energy which I give to all the different items in my bucket


I listed some of the important things I value that determine that I think I need to balance, and have shared them below in an exercise I’ll call “The Priorities Hierarchy”. 


You can share it as I’ve done with friends, family, and colleagues – and it will go a long way to explaining patterns in their behaviour, aid predictability, and boost clarity in decision-making.  


After ranking these pursuits, you will be left with a priorities hierarchy. And that hierarchy will represent you as a person because… and here’s the big reveal…  you ARE your priorities.  


The Exercise. 


Rank these in order of priority. 

Duty, greater good

Respect of colleagues

Respect of family friends

Personal Sustainability – affording your MVL.



Social Image, Public recognition

Not doing harm

A state of internal peace

Learning (and growing, evolving)

Feeling Socially Connected – Connected To Others.


Feel free to add any I’ve missed, that are relevant to you – or, to remove them. 


What I noticed about my own priorities’ hierarchy


I realised that they tend to shuffle around a lot when triggered by outside influences. For example, extrinsic traps often get me thinking more about things like social image and income when in ‘normal times’ I see little intrinsic value in these. 


I realised that I don’t want my priorities to be dictated by outside forces. I want to be the one to set them. 


Set them when you don’t need them for when you do…


If you don’t have to think about this too much now, you’re lucky. But I suspect that at some point you will have to. I feel like I have to question this constantly with my work and attempts to balance my lifestyle. 


Should you jump on the opportunity to get more personal security with a job that pays more, or stay on your mission?

Should you make decisions around your family, or focus on learning? 


It’s a good thing to have clarity on what your priorities are, especially your No. 1. The one that sits at the top is the most important obviously, and the order becomes less significant with each drop down your list. 


That is, the difference between Priority 1 and 2 is far more significant than the decision for Priority 3 and so on…


Hard to get advice on. 


The most important questions we ask are probably the hardest to get advice on. Because, what if the people we speak to have a different priorities hierarchy? 


For absolute clarity, this is why I suggest you will need to set your priorities yourself before speaking to anyone for advice. An implication of this could be that the advice from people with the same Priorities Hierarchy would be best. 

A personal example. 


When I was working on From the Ground Up, a nonprofit/charitable mission, our most trusted advisors would always stress personal sustainability to us. 


Nick, Scott and I were more gung-ho and very dismissive about personal sustainability. We were in our early, early 20’s and thought we were invincible – our work as all about the mission and so this advice was never fully heeded. 


As our journey continued, personal sustainability with regards to balancing too much and needing to maintain an MVL income did become more challenging and front-of-mind. In retrospect, these advisors would have had a similar Priorities Hierarchy to us – being very Duty-focused. As such, their emphasis on personal sustainability was appropriate and focused advice. 


It’s just a small example, but hopefully that helps!


 I hope this exercise gives you a deeper understanding of yourself and those close to you. 

I’d also love it if you’d be willing to share your Priorities Hierarchy in the comments below!


Would this open a Door For Someone You Know?

Remember to share it with them, after all, the best way to Open a Thousand Doors for you is to concentrate on Opening Doors for Others.

With Joe Wehbe – The Podcast

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