By John Basher
Priorities. It’s one simple word that means so much. To
prioritize is to organize or deal with something according to
its importance. There’s a delicate balance between what’s at
the top of the list and what can be put on the back burner.
It’s an ebb and flow of life’s duties. Eating before playing.
Sleeping instead of staying up late watching a “Breaking Bad”
marathon. Going to work to pay the bills rather than playing
hooky. Replacing the broken water heater instead of buying a
signed One Direction T-shirt. It’s the story of our lives.
Prioritizing is intrinsically human. We, as a species, are
taught from a very early age to rank and file based on what is
most meaningful. Judgment is our beacon, though
temptation can guide us down the wrong path. Making the
correct decisions makes all of the difference in the world.
Misaligning priorities can be disastrous. Just watch “Breaking
Bad” for any number of examples.
What I find interesting is how priorities can shift. Mine
have changed drastically in the past decade. Ten years ago I
had the world in front of me. There were endless opportunities at my fingertips. I was a 22-year-old hotshot, fresh out
of college with a bachelor’s degree in New Media Publishing
after toiling away inside classrooms and computer labs. I’ll
admit that I didn’t always have my nose buried in a textbook.
Back in those days I let loose every now and then. I figured
that it was a public disservice if I didn’t put my God-given
talents of singing karaoke and dancing on display at watering
holes throughout upstate New York. But I digress. College
professors constantly reminded me that the world was my
oyster. The only limitations I would encounter in the business
landscape were of my own doing. Self-doubt, they said, was
like a disease that would lead to a fate far worse: the fear of
Never fear failure, because doing so stunts growth and
excellence. I’ve learned that the most successful entrepreneurs and athletes welcome new challenges. They embrace
uncertainty rather than coil up and hide. It is this mentality
that sparks unrealized goals, which in turn creates
opportunity for a better, more fulfilling life. Failure, as it turns
out, isn’t always a bad thing.
The four-year, $100,000 pep talk from my wise professors
lit a fire under me. I stormed into the wild and wonderful
industry of magazine publishing with a brain full of knowledge
and a cloak of invincibility. In 2004 I bought a one-way ticket
to California and began working for MXA two days later. I
was unafraid of the future, because I controlled my destiny. In
hindsight, I made the best decision of my life when I stepped
foot on the plane bound for sun-drenched SoCal. I left all I
knew behind in New York, but it didn’t matter much. How
could it? I was going to get paid to ride dirt bikes. As far as I
was concerned, I had just won the lottery.
Ten years later, I’ve tested over 300 different bikes,
learned more about the sport than I ever could’ve imagined,
and have hobnobbed with the sport’s elite racers. It has been
an awesome ride, so to speak. I say this because I think it’s
wise to remember what’s important. Prioritize. Put pressing
matters in front of trivial things. Make a goal, click fifth gear,
and hold the throttle wide open until you’ve reached the finish. However, don’t be narrow-minded. Look for other lines.
Remember that opportunity rings only if you’re willing to listen
for the doorbell. And should you feel trapped in your current
situation, well, then it’s time you beat the door down. Perhaps
a career change is in order. Maybe you’ve always wanted
to shake things up and do something more in line with your
interests. Whatever you do, never rest.
I’ve seen too many people who are upset with their lot in
life. I’m not ignorant enough to believe that everyone will be
happy about where they’re at in the search for self-actualization. Still, I propose that everyone should strive for something
better. Yes, it’s easier to follow the path of least resistance.
Yes, you can try to maintain a positive outlook by counting
down the days until retirement. No, I don’t recommend either
way of blind thinking.
“YES, IT’S EASIER TO FOLLOW
THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE.
YES, YOU CAN TRY TO MAINTAIN
A POSITIVE OUTLOOK BY
COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS
UNTIL RETIREMENT. NO, I DON’T
RECOMMEND EITHER WAY OF
In another 10 years I’m sure that my priorities will again
have changed dramatically. At 42, I’ll have rounded the bend
on a mid-life crisis. Life will have zoomed by; it’s hard to think
that 10 years have already passed since I began working
at MXA. Naturally, it will be hard not to reflect on the past
and look in the rear-view mirror while driving down nostalgia
lane. By that time I’ll smile when I think about my young and
hazardous days behind the handlebars (while knowing full well
that I still haven’t learned my lesson). Regardless of whatever
is going on, my plan is the same as it has always been—to
be sitting on the tailgate of my truck at the motocross track,
hopefully next to you, as we laugh about the great time that
we are having. That sounds good to me. See you there?