How to Prioritize Yourself: The 3 Principles to Follow

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Be Your Future Self Now" by Benjamin Hardy. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you in need of self-care treatment? How do you prioritize yourself over everyone else’s needs?

Even if you are an empathetic, caring person, you still need to put your own needs above others. In Be Your Future Self Now, Benjamin Hardy says that prioritizing your growth can help you connect to your higher self, thus you won’t get distracted by unnecessary tasks and activities.

Here’s how to prioritize yourself and increase your self-discipline.

Prioritize Your Higher Self Daily

Hardy argues that you should prioritize the actions that will move you toward becoming your higher self on a daily basis. This will ensure that you make consistent progress toward becoming your higher self and don’t get distracted by other urgent and important tasks, non-crucial activities, and instant gratification.

The following principles will explain how to prioritize yourself and quit your unproductive behaviors.

Habits to Increase Self-Discipline

In The Power of Discipline, Daniel Walter agrees that to succeed, you must incorporate habits and actions into your daily routine that move you toward your goals. However, Walter focuses specifically on developing habits that increase self-discipline so you can resist the urge to engage in unproductive behaviors (including non-crucial activities, other urgent and important tasks, and instant gratification). Developing the habits Walter suggests alongside Hardy’s recommendations will arguably make it easier to prioritize your higher self because you’ll be able to resist unproductive behaviors. Following are a few habits that Walter says are crucial to developing self-discipline:

Create morning and evening routines. This will help you wake up refreshed and make it easier to resist temptations like sleeping in, eating poorly, or staying up late—behaviors that will impede progress toward your goals.

Control your impulses. When you feel like giving up, push yourself 40% harder. And when you feel like giving in to instant gratification, resist the urge for 10 minutes to overcome it. Developing these habits will help you work more productively. 

Create positive associations. People often want to avoid doing hard work that moves them toward their goals because it’s not enjoyable. However, you can counter this urge by incorporating enjoyable aspects into your work routine so it becomes something you like. For example, make yourself a cup of tea before starting work, take a break midway through to have your favorite snack, and reward yourself afterward by making a nice dinner.

Principle #1: Disregard Non-Crucial Activities

The first way to prioritize your higher self is to disregard non-crucial activities that don’t help you become your higher self. For example, painting your home won’t help you progress toward a higher self who’s a renowned graphic designer and will only detract from the time needed for your 12-month goals.

(Shortform note: In Someday Is Today, Matthew Dicks recommends identifying which activities are crucial and non-crucial by considering how important they’d be to you in 100 years—if your 100-year-old (higher) self would want you to do it, then it’s probably important; if it wouldn’t matter to them, then it’s probably not. For example, it probably won’t matter to your 100-year-old self whether you painted your house, so this is a non-crucial activity you can disregard. However, if you plan on painting the house as a family activity, your 100-year-old self would probably encourage you to do it—your family won’t be around forever, so you should take advantage of family time while you have it.)

Principle #2: Schedule 12-Month Goals Before Other Urgent and Important Tasks

Next, Hardy recommends scheduling time each day to work toward your goals. Although your higher self is your top priority, you’ll likely have other urgent and important tasks to complete each day, such as doing your job. To balance your higher self and your present life effectively, schedule time each day to work toward your 12-month goals before you complete any other urgent and important tasks. 

For example, your higher self might be a graphic designer, but your present self still needs to carry out their sales job to make money. So, schedule an hour each morning to work on your graphic design portfolio before work to ensure that you’re progressing toward becoming your higher self every day despite other responsibilities.

(Shortform note: In The One Thing, Keller reiterates the importance of scheduling time to work toward your goals on a daily basis, and he agrees that you should get this work done as early in the day as possible—preferably before other urgent and important tasks like your job. Keller adds to Hardy’s advice by recommending that you dedicate at least four hours a day to work on your goals. This will ensure you make significant progress.)

Principle #3: Replace Instant Gratification With Beneficial Habits

Finally, replace bad habits that provide instant gratification with good habits that will move you toward your goals. For example, rather than engaging in instant gratification by playing video games, make it a habit to open your Goodreads app to check out different book cover designs. Swapping this for video games will give you insight into trends around book cover design, which will help you excel in your graphic design career later.

How to Prioritize Yourself: The 3 Principles to Follow

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  • Why everyone must try to live up to their full potential
  • How to identify your potential and the goals that will help you reach it
  • Recommendations on how to become your highest self

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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