As mentioned in the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, the word priority only started being pluralized (i.e. “priorities”) in the early 20th century. The word’s root, “prior”, means “first”. You can’t have more than one first, right?
Reminding myself to have just one priority is a daily practice. I certainly don’t have just one thing on my to-do list, so I can’t reduce all of my obligations and responsibilities to just one task.
Rather, the key (I believe) is to have one primary, singular focus for your life.
One thing that all the other things you’re doing is going towards.
A “calling”, if you will. Or a purpose. A mission.
For many their main purpose is related to their faith. Or it is related to their sport. Or their art. Or their culture. All of those are valid.
If your primary purpose in life is to share hip hop dance with the youth of Seoul, Korea, then that is just as fine a purpose as if it was to spread the teachings of Buddha to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
A lot of us probably already know our calling. I think I know mine, although I’ve putzed around with it for a long time, I am finally (at the age of 50, mind you) starting to own that purpose.
But a lot of folks may not ever figure it out.
And that is okay. In fact, not knowing gives you a lot of freedom. You can try anything and everything without worrying if it isn’t “your thing”. Because until your purpose becomes known to you, anything could be “your thing”.
Experiment. Follow your interests. Try something new.
The act of trying will help you uncover the truth of who you are and what you’re meant to do.
Knowing your purpose is a gift.
But not knowing is also a gift.
And if we’re lucky, we can spend many years of our lives unwrapping the present in order to open up our futures.