The 3rd Habit of Highly Effective People: Put First Things First

Put First Things FirstOnce we have mastered the 2nd Habit of Highly Effective People: “Begin With The End in Mind”, we know where we are going. It means that you have defined what is most important to YOU and you are pursuing YOUR OWN definition of success. It involves creating a set of guiding principles so you can make choices about what you want to say ‘yes’ to and ‘no’ to.

The 3rd Habit “Put First Things First” is all about actually doing what we said we would do in Habit 2! It means really living our lives according to what is important to us and making choices based on our definition of success.

Stephen Covey asks two excellent questions when he discusses this habit:

1. “What one thing could you do (you aren’t doing now) that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous difference in your personal life?”

2. “What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?”


What comes to your mind as you read these questions?

At different points in my life, I would have answered the questions differently. A year and a half ago, I knew that getting back to a daily meditative practice would make a huge difference, and I developed my morning Tai Chi practice. On the business side, I knew that having a more professional Website would make a big difference, and I invested in building one. Right now, I am realizing that I am putting off long-term financial planning, and yet, paying attention to it on a regular basis would make a big difference.

So what does it take to get in the habit of putting first things first?

1. Really internalize Habit 2 and make sure that your mission and priorities become deeply planted in your heart and mind.

2. Identify your key roles in your life (as an individual, family member, partner, working professional, volunteer, friend, etc.)

3. Select the goals you want to accomplish in each role on a weekly basis.

4. Schedule time every week to achieve these goals.


I have realized that the first step takes a lot longer than expected. It’s no easy feat to uncover and then to truly embrace our mission and priorities so that we really live our life in accordance to them. But once we know why we are doing what we are doing and why it is so important to us, we can use that as fuel to propel us to actually do the things that matter the most.

What is the one thing you want to start doing?

Manuela loves helping smart and creative women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives through Professional Life Coaching!


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