I released my newest book this week – it was an exciting time. I had over 90 expert partners who participated in the launch with me, and the book successfully hit the bestseller list. In the midst of it, I kept receiving notes from friends and colleagues saying, “How do you do it?” They were asking how do I raise a family, work my full-time consultant job, teach, travel and write books. I do it because it matters to me to be able to help others. My passion is to bring ideas and resources to other people so they can be all they want to be.
For me, this is a priority in life. When I manage my schedule on any given day, or week, or month I am focused on the things that support this priority. Along with this is a dedication to my children and to the animal rescue groups I support, so I make time for those, too.
The fact is that we can ALL do what we want to do, and find time to do it, if we figure out clearly what our priorities really are. I hear people making excuses all of the time for not doing what they want to do – and let’s face it, life doesn’t make it particularly easy for us. There are many demands that we all face when we’d often rather be doing something else! Someone once told me about a book that talked about how the enlightened ones – Buddha, Jesus and others – didn’t have kids, for example. They weren’t involved in trying to negotiate car pools with other parents in the midst of a meditation.
Those of us with children have all kinds of pressures facing us at all times. Those of us with money problems face financial challenges. Those of us who are unemployed, or have lost a loved one, may feel discouraged and even depressed. There are many factors in everyone’s life that make doing what we really care about more difficult, but if we get focused on what really matters, we can overcome.
The first step is to define what really matters. Sometimes we are so focused on just getting through the day, or getting the next paycheck, or getting over an illness that we don’t think about much else. We are all complex human beings and we have complex desires. It makes sense to take some time to define what really matters – deep down – and what our priorities are that support these desires. Writing down our priorities or desires can be a helpful exercise. I keep a card with my priorities in front of my computer and when I am tempted to waste my time doing things that don’t support what I most value, I look at the card and ask myself, “Does this matter more than anything else to me right now?” This helps keep me from aimlessly surfing the web, or reading articles I don’t really care about. It brings me back to what I really want to be doing. And sometimes I do want to just aimlessly surf – maybe I need a break, or am on overload and don’t want to think. The important thing is to be conscious of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
What matters most can involve accomplishing a goal, or strengthening a relationship, or being more joyful and having fun, or changing careers or generally doing something we are passionate about. Life moves very quickly and we often find we have wasted time that could have been devoted to something more meaningful – to us. It doesn’t have to be “deep” and it doesn’t have to be significant, it just has to matter to the person setting that goal!
This week, think about your desires and your correlating priorities. Think about what really matters to you, and how or where you’d like to spend your time. Take a few minutes to write down what’s important and keep what you write in an obvious place so you can be reminded several times a day to put your attention on those most important things – and spend less time on those that don’t really matter all that much to you.