3 Tough Truths About Our Priorities
1. Too often we use “too busy” as an excuse for poor time management.
There’s a BIG difference between being busy and being productive. Don’t confuse motion with progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but never makes any forward progress. Don’t be a rocking horse! Truth be told, 99% of all your busyness is simply a mismanagement of your time. And at times, you have to say “no” to good things to be able to say “yes” to important things. You simply can’t do it all. So be mindful and choose wisely. Manage yourself! Focus on your priorities! What you focus on grows stronger in your life. At every moment, millions of little things compete for your attention. All these things fall into one of two categories: things that are top priorities and things that are not. You’ll never get more done by blindly working more hours on everything that comes up. Instead, you’ll get more done when you follow specific plans that measure and track top priorities and milestones. So if you want to be less busy and more successful, don’t ask how to make something more efficient until you’ve first asked, “Do I need to do this at all?”
The bottom line is that feeling like you’re doing busywork is often the result of saying yes too often. We all have obligations, but a comfortable pace can only be found by properly managing your yeses. So stop saying “yes” when you want to say “no.” You can’t always be agreeable; that’s how people take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to set clear boundaries. You might have to say no to certain favors, or work projects, or community activities, or committees, or volunteer groups, or coaching your kid’s sports team, or some other seemingly worthwhile activity. I know what you’re thinking – it seems unfair to say no when these are very worthwhile things to do. It kills you to say no. But you must. Because the alternative is that you’re going to do a half-hearted, poor job at each one, be stressed beyond belief, and feel like you’re stuck in an endless cycle of failure and frustration. You won’t be getting enough sleep, your focus will get worse and worse due to exhaustion, and eventually you’ll reach a breaking point.
2. We spend lots of time talking about our priorities, but not nearly enough time actually working on them.
When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? Let that question sink in, and then remind yourself that the last six letters in the word “attraction” are “action.” If you want to attract positive changes into your life, you have to act accordingly. If you have an idea about what you want the next chapter of your life to look like, you have to DO things that support this idea every day. An idea, after all, isn’t going to do anything for you until you do something productive with it. In fact, as long as that great idea is just sitting around in your head it’s doing far more harm than good. Your subconscious mind knows you’re procrastinating on something that’s important to you. The necessary work that you keep postponing causes stress, anxiety, fear, and usually more procrastination – a vicious cycle that continues to worsen until you interrupt it with ACTION.
And remember, you can’t lift 1,000 pounds all at once, but you can easily lift one pound 1,000 times. In repetition, your little actions have great power. You become highly skilled at whatever you do again and again. Every day offers you the opportunity to develop a ritual of success, regardless of your priorities or how you personally define success. So from this moment forward… May your actions speak louder than your words. May your life preach louder than your lips. May your success be your noise in the end.
3. We mistakenly prioritize near-term comfort over long-term fulfillment.
Think about the most common problems we deal with in our lives – from laziness to lack of exercise to unhealthy diets to procrastination, and so on. In most cases, problems like these are not caused not by a physical ailment, but by a weakness of the mind – a weakness that urges us to avoid discomfort. Most of us dream about the reward without the risk. The shine without the grind. But we can’t have a destination without a journey. And a journey always has costs – at the very least, you have to give up a little time and energy to take a step forward every day. So, instead of dreaming about what you want right now, first ask yourself: “What am I willing to give up to get it?” Or, for those inevitably hard days: “What is worth suffering for?” Seriously, think about it…If you want the six-pack abs, you have to want the sore muscles, the sweat, the early mornings in the gym, and the healthy meals. If you want the successful business, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business deals and decisions, and the possibility of failing twenty times to learn what you need to know to succeed in the long run.
If you want something in life, you have to also want the costs of getting it! You have to be willing to put in the effort and go all the way! Otherwise, there’s no point in dreaming. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what you want, or sleeping in, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing certain relationships and daring yourself to make new ones. It could mean accepting ridicule from people. It could mean spending time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is a gift that makes great things possible – it gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you want it. And if you really want it, you’ll do it, despite discomfort and rejection and the odds. And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine.
You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path, and it’s worth it! So again, if you really want it, go all the way! There’s no better feeling in the world – there’s no better feeling than knowing what it means to be ALIVE.