The Little Recognised Emotion That’s Killing Your Priorities


Think back to a time that you needed to get something done. The ‘thing’ I’m talking about here wasn’t in your day to day business, it was something that you needed to get done for your own business growth and impact. A goal.

How long did it take you from the moment you added it to your project schedule to being done?

Let’s be honest for a moment – it was probably longer than you initially had hoped for. And that’s if you actually did achieve it, and it didn’t just fall further and further down your list to the point where you couldn’t really remember why it was a good idea in the first place, or so much time had passed now that it was outdated.

According to Goal Scaling , only 6% of people who set goals actually achieve them, and that’s out of the 20% of people who actually set them at all.

When setting goals, intentions and logic are often well thought out. Especially in business, they are decided up and set against the general trajectory and growth of the business. A way to develop a product or service, enhance an experience or increase impact and income.

I believe all goals can be achieved. We can learn, hire, implement, sprint our way to the finish line. The technicalities are all beatable.

So what holds goal achievement in limbo?


And that emotion is guilt.

The core to productivity is prioritisation, and knowing how and what to prioritise when. There is no denying this can be tricky. If you’re familiar with the Urgent vs. Important quadrants then you’ve probably been caught up in the ‘Urgent and Important’ and the ‘Urgent but not Important’ quadrants. Those tasks that will have a big impact if they are not done – often with a hard deadline, and those tasks that are urgent and important to someone else.

Being caught up in those areas leaves the not urgent but important quadrant suffering. This is the area where projects for the medium and long term sit, together with personal development, well being, team growth and scaling. The reason these are often left suffering is that they don’t have a deadline that is perceived as urgent (it’s not determined by someone else, or is business critical).

When there are seemingly more urgent and important tasks to do in our days, to prioritise working on a business goal, without a deadline, and not business critical (at the moment – but I’ll come on to that shortly!) also brings with a feeling of guilt.

Guilt that you’re not working on serving your clients, you’re not getting that blog post written, you’re not engaging on social media, or thinking about next week’s content. All the things that you perceive you SHOULD be doing that are important to the business.

When we prioritise an intentional task that is more meaningful to us than others, it means that something else isn’t getting done. And that results in discomfort which can be a distraction, diluting the focus on taking the action you need. This can quickly lead to overwhelm, multi-tasking to lessen the feeling of guilt, or just reverting to our default setting of getting done what we THINK should be done so we feel better about it.

Prioritisation can feel selfish and uncomfortable, but it is essential to make intentional progress towards achieving your goals. It’s also full of hidden emotion!

Work intentionally on your goals = feeling good and like you’re getting somewhere AND feeling guilty and rushed as you need to get back to working in the business and serving your clients.

Balancing prioritisation takes practice and discipline. Here’s three simple ways to guilt-free working!

Time Blocking

I go on about this a lot, but it is fundamental to getting things done, especially when working on goals that you need a chunk of time on to make a difference. If you block time each day/week then you know that time is non-negotiable and you can plan other work for the business around it.

Know what it is you’re working on

You can’t set priorities if you don’t know what you’re doing. To say ‘Working on XYZ Goal, Tuesday at 10am’ won’t work, it’s too broad. You’ll sit down to work on it at 10am and won’t know what to focus on. Breakdown the goal into actionable tasks to make quicker progress.

Manage expectations

Plan work according to your schedule and remember that YOUR time blocks are non-negotiable. Communication with your team and clients if you need to let them know when something will be done, or you will be available is essential.

Keep these in mind when you’re planning out your priorities. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you make, and it will seem easier too!

Meet Katie

Katie is a business operations strategist, manager and workflow expert, designing and streamlining what goes on behind the scenes for better results.