I know this will absolutely astonish you when I confess that I was an outlaw in my younger days. In my irresponsible college years I got a speeding ticket. I remember stuffing the citation in my glove box and slamming it shut. I forgot about it and went on with my life.
A few months later, I received a letter in the mail. It appeared to be official. What could this be I wondered? If you guessed a warrant, you would be right. That’s when I ran to my car and opened the glove-box to find the unpaid ticket.
I slammed the breaks on the rest of my life while I dove head first into crisis mode. I could not eat, sleep or anything else until I solved a looming and inevitable problem with the law. The thought of going to jail compelled me to take immediate and decisive action.
Important vs Urgent: It’s usually a choice
Since I ignored the important task of paying the fine, I had chosen to escalate it to urgent. When something is urgent, it means that we drop everything to deal with the issue.
This is just one of many occasions in my life where something important became urgent.
Urgent: These are responsibilities that we are pretty much forced to do (an emergency or crisis). An example would be your child falls out of a tree and gashes their head. You are forced to drop everything, render aid and take the child to the emergency room. Or a self-inflicted emergency like the unpaid ticket.
Important: These are responsibilities or tasks that we choose to do that are not really urgent but have a high priority. An example would be taking care of your health (exercise, nutrition, rest, etc) or paying a speeding ticket.
When important become urgent:
If we choose to ignore or brush aside taking care of our bodies like the example above, at some point we run a very real risk of a major health issue (i.e. a heart attack).
Paying my electric bill is important. If I choose to ignore it by not paying it, I will eventually deal with the urgent situation of being without electricity.
I love to run. It’s hot in Texas. I live and run in Texas during the summer. It is important for me to drink a lot of water. If I choose to ignore the important task of drinking water, I will have a problem on my hands.
- Do you take care of the regular maintenance on your car?
- Do you get a physical examination every year?
- Do spend more time planning a vacation than planning your life?
- Do you spend time with your family?
Some folks can’t differentiate between important and urgent. Why? Because they’ve not ever thought about the difference.
Think about one important thing you need to do today to keep the important from becoming the urgent… and for heaven’s sake, pay that speeding ticket!