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First Things First

To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy

By Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill
  • Read in 18 minutes
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  • Contains 11 key ideas
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First Things First by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill

This title provides you with valuable insights and guidelines that will help you focus your life on the things that are truly the most meaningful. You’ll learn how to set your priorities, make the best decisions, and develop a keen vision for the future. If you’re looking to create positive change in your life, this book is a great place to start!

Key idea 1 of 11

Living a meaningful life isn't about doing things as quickly as possible – it's about doing “first things” first.

Imagine a fairy offered you the ability to do everything 20 percent faster. Would you accept? Most people probably would, but think about it – would that really solve all your problems?

Many of us would accept the offer, because we strive to do as many things as we can, as quickly as possible. But actually, this isn't the best way to manage our time. Unfortunately, many self-help books reinforce the myth that it is by encouraging us to make to-do lists and cross off items as we achieve the bullet points.

That sort of thinking only pays attention to one side of the coin: your commitments, objectives and itineraries – what we can call the “clock of our lives.” It often neglects the other side, the “compass of our lives” – your values, principles and conscience.

Actually, living a meaningful life isn't about crossing things off a list; it's about using the compass of your life to identify the first things that have a long-lasting, positive impact on your happiness.

For most people, the first things are personal relationships with family and friends. Have you ever heard of a person looking back and wishing they'd spent more time at the office?

For instance, imagine that you focus on your career, work your way up in your company and earn a top salary – only to realize that you're now too old to have children. If you've always wanted a family and it's now too late, your career wasn't truly one of your first things. If you're not aware of your first things, you may end up making decisions that make you unhappy in the long-run.

So after all, you'd be better off not accepting the fairy's offer. Instead, try to identify the first things that give your life the most meaning, and make those things your priority.

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