Today I want to talk to you about another important topic on the path to Winning at Life. It’s the idea that we should be intentional and focus on what’s important. While that should seem obvious, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about “beginning with the end in mind.”
The concept of long term goals are becoming less common as we move into an age where people have access to everything in a matter of seconds and instant satisfaction is the norm. To help you with this process, grab a pen and paper, fold the sheet of paper in half and then half again. You should now have 4 sections. In each section write the following at the top:
Now I want you to think about your ideal life and what each of these areas will look like in the next 10 to 20 years. Then, in each of the sections write down a brief description of what you envision.
Turning Dreams Into Reality
Now that you’ve finished creating “your ideal future” you’ve also completed the first step in bringing that future to life. To focus your life on what’s important you must decide what is important and by visualizing your future, you now have something to shoot for. You’ve taken wishes and turned them into vague goals. Later, we’ll go into more detail about goal setting, but for now, we just want to create that vision.
The best way to achieve your ideal life, is to ensure that the things you do on a day to day basis align with your vision. When you talk with people you realize that people are proud of being "busy" and they get so caught up in their lives that they sometimes don’t take the time to figure out if all of that activity is helping them reach their goals in the first place. To avoid that trap, we need to create a plan!
In the Workplace
This concept is especially true in a work environment. As an HR professional, I spend huge amounts of my time helping managers with employee issues. That can be anything from policy violations and poor performance to benefits and paychecks. When I take a step back and ask the question “Am I focusing on what’s important?” The conclusion that I draw is that if I focus my time and energy on creating a great employee culture where pay is competitive, we have great leaders and people love what they do, then none of those employee issues occur in the first place and I’ve added significant value to the company in the process.
In our personal lives these same ideas can be applied. Do you sit at home in the evenings watching Netflix for hours on end? Do you spend all your time at your kid’s soccer games? Maybe you spend a ton of time cooking and cleaning the house. While each of these things can be valuable and even necessary, we do need to ask the question, “am I focusing on what’s important?” More often than not, we’ll realize that we’re spending significant amounts of time “being busy” and not on activities that add value to our lives, and help us achieve our long term goals.
to achieve our life goals, we first need to create a plan. The start to creating a plan is to dream your future. If you start with your vision of the future, you can work backwards to craft achievable goals to help you grind day after day until you’ve achieved your dreams. As Creighton Abrams, a U.S. Army General is quoted as saying, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time”. Creating your vision is the first bite.