Are you focused and centered on What Matters?Wed, 01 Jan 2020
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” -Abraham Lincoln
“The best way to create your best future is to Focus on What Matters!” - Kenny Leahman
Our future depends on how we spend our time now. Choosing to focus and center on What Matters now is the best way I’ve found to use time effectively.
Statistics from various studies show that many of us typically only use about 30% of our time effectively. Conversely, we might be underutilizing or wasting as much as 70% of our time!
Our work weeks—where we spend the majority of our time—are getting longer, not shorter. Research from the Covey Center and The Harvard Business Review show that we’re working more hours per week, not less. For a growing number of workers, the 40-hour workweek is long gone. Instead, the average business leader, executive, and many of their team members, work closer to 70 hours per week, a result of an “Always On” culture—after-hour and weekend emails, calls, etc., even in companies that have committed to not let this happen.
Why do we pay lip service to work-life balance and do so little about it? Partly because work-life balance is often viewed as a trite expectation, jeered at or laughed away. Also, because we’ve lost focus on What Matters! I, myself, was very committed to “mission first,” often above family, but I know now that work-life balance truly matters. It won’t be laughed away on my planet.
After learning the above statistics a few years ago, I set out to reverse my 70% ineffective/30% effective statistic by devising and focusing on techniques and tactics that would get me to at least a 30% ineffective/70% effective equation.
I admit, the idea was initially daunting, mostly because old habits die hard and I didn’t know where to start. I harkened back to Admiral McRaven’s 17 May 2014 Commencement Address at the University of Texas at Austin, during which he suggested that “we can start to change the world by making our beds.” This prompted hearty laughter from his audience, but he didn’t skip a beat and continued with serious intent to drive home his message.
I have serious respect for this man, and many other combat veterans—including many Navy SEALs—with whom I served and who taught me tremendous life lessons, so I thought, “Hmm, if he’s that serious about his message, including starting to change the world by doing something as simple as making my bed, then surely I can find and commit to my own set of steps to reverse my personal effectiveness equation.” Admiral McRaven's Full Speech
I considered my options, laid out some specifics and committed to put myself on a different trajectory.
It’s the beginning of a new year and decade, so I’ll share where this journey began, and a bit about why these steps matter.
- Mindset Reset. I had to change my thinking, establish a vision, and believe. I made it my mission to get more effective, at least 70% effective over time, but NOT all at once. If I did it incrementally, I could make the change.
- Choose New Year’s Resolutions that are meaningful and attainable. I resolved to shift my paradigm at the beginning of every year with something BIG, but doable. For example, over the last several years, I’ve resolved to:
- Always Live the Golden Rule. Every day, in every situation, no matter what’s happening, stop, think, and choose the Golden Rule.
- Choose What Matters. Every day, as each and every situation or decision arises, ask myself, “Does this actually matter right NOW and in the grand scheme of things? If not, let it go, set it aside, and focus on something that DOES matter.”
- Live by the Four Agreements. Google this. Doing this EVERY day is a serious challenge, but I promise, even if you try, you’ll experience meaningful change.
- Keep committed to all previous resolutions each new year. Don’t let the earlier commitments slide. Add to and build upon them progressively each year. Be conscious of whether my actions are changing my life and the lives of others.
- Conduct a Personal and Professional Values Equation. What are my highest priority values? Am I living and leading according to these values? How much am I honoring my values?
- Keep a Time Journal. For a defined period of time, at least two weeks, preferably a month, keep a journal of all your waking hour activities. Be mindful of what you do when. Documenting it will help you define your personal 70%/30% effectiveness equation, reveal areas for improvement, and give you tangibles to work with rather than assuming.
- What Matters in 2020? What is your 2020 Vision? Name it! Write it!
- Do a Start | Stop | Continue evaluation. With a clearer understanding of your realities, consciously choose WHAT you’re going to do when. Choose, write down and commit to things that you will Start, Stop or Continue personally and professionally. Set a goal to spend 70% of your time on things that matter and have positive impact, and only 30% on the smaller stuff.
My 2020 Vision includes being Much More Mindful. Every day, every moment, I will strive to be conscious of whether this is where I want and need to be. Will I live in it or change it, now?
Watch for new posts that expand on these Issues That Matter and introduce new ones that deserve your attention.
I’ll also introduce some of my workshops and seminars that correspond to these issues.
It’s 2020! Happy New Year and thanks for reading along!