Keeping with the theme of making impacts on the world this week, I wanted to continue the idea in a different direction, to discuss another way we’re limited in how we can make our mark.
How do you prioritize? When you have due dates looming over your shoulder and a mountain of tasks to get through, what do you do first?
The way I see it, there are two ways to prioritize. Either you do the most important and the most time-consuming things first, or you begin with the lighter, less significant tasks and get them out of the way, to focus on the big things.
Most of the time, the easier option is to start with the smaller, less significant tasks. They’re often less intimidating, simple with a clear ending, and almost always require less thinking. Rather than starting out your work day by opening up the biggest issue you have on your table, you’ll probably begin by checking email, responding to messages, and organizing your calendar. And for the majority of your work, that’s probably sensible.
But working towards more ambitious goals in life is a circumstance quite a ways removed from the average day in the office, and so calls for a different protocol to prioritizing.
If you have something you want achieve in your lifetime, if you have a goal (as you should), I think you’re much better off thinking about and pursuing those ideas earlier on in life, than pushing them off and waiting until you “have the means” to do so, whether that be money, education, or authority and experience. Put another way, I think you’re never too young to begin thinking about and working towards the causes and the goals you find most meaningful in life, no matter how ambitious.
Be impatient about the things that matter. - Paul Graham, Y Combinator
Most tasks we come across day-to-day are quite different from the goals we look to achieve throughout our lives. Most tasks have a clear beginning and a clear finish. They don’t take much time, and the steps you need to take to achieve them are pretty obvious most of the time. But the goals that really matter in the long run, the goals we work to achieve to make a mark in the world, aren’t clearly outlined, and they don’t have a clear beginning or end. And that’s why I think it’s so important that we don’t put off caring about and and taking action for the things that matter to us.
Presented with that idea, the most common reaction is that with age come the experience, the knowledge, and resources necessary to make decisions and act independently, but when we’re younger, the scope of what we can do to have an impact is much smaller.
While there is some merit to this idea on first sight, I don’t think it does the issue justice. Honestly, it seems like a cop-out to hide away from taking action because we’re younger or less experienced. While a newly christened high school graduate might not be as competent at leading an organization or pulling together an event as an experienced veteran, I think starting early not only gives the younger people more time to gain that experience necessary to lead in the future, but also introduces new perspectives and ideas to the issue.
Most importantly, I think the idea of you can take action when you’re older and wiser unjustly and inappropriately excludes the younger, future generation from the discussions and actions happening around important causes and precludes their taking part in society. Lack of experience doesn’t mean lack of value, and we shouldn’t treat age this way in excluding the younger generation from taking action for social change, regardless of how old you are.
Last, if you’re someone who’s has ideas and dreams put off and away into the “future” part of your life because of the thought that you aren’t ready, stop making age an excuse. Being involved in society isn’t about chasing time until the circumstances are right; it’s about making the circumstances right regardless of how easy it seems to you at the moment.
If you enjoyed this piece, you might also enjoy my next post, No more newsroom.
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