The Difference Between Essential and Important

Mitch Schneider
November 3, 2019

As I mentioned in the video, I’m sitting here alone at the kitchen counter in our daughter’s home and it is eerily quiet for an area that sees very little quiet ever.

Quiet in a house with two little ones present — one six and one four — Is a rarity under the best of circumstances. But in the anticipation of the four-year-old’s birthday party later on this afternoon, they are just about mutually exclusive!

That doesn’t change my delight in being able to share in the festivities when everyone returns to the house and the adult celebration begins.

Essential vs Important

When you think about where I was and where I am now, just being here is a gift! The very best kind of gift and one that I have accepted with gratitude and deep appreciation. A celebration I very easily might never have seen! Something that got me thinking about the difference between ESSENTIAL and IMPORTANT and how easily I might have been denied either or even both.

Important things are just that. They are things we need for ourselves or want for our families and for work. Things that are likely to make things better somehow. Essential things are different. Essential things are those things we need — must have — to thrive. Love is essential, as are nurturing, fulfilling, mutually beneficial and rewarding relationships.

A Fine Distinction

Things that are essential are almost by definition — important. Important things aren’t always essential.

It’s a fine-line distinction, but one that still needs to be made nevertheless.

Being with friends and family at a grandchild’s 4th Birthday Party is both essential AND important. Even if it means bathing yourself in hand sanitizer and wearing a mask! Recognizing how little it might have taken for you to miss this birthday and everything that follows is enough to bring you to your knees.

I’m lucky and I know it. Lucky to recognize the difference between what’s essential and what’s important. The question is, have you figured it out!

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