We can all get busy; very, very busy. The day to day can turn into a whirlwind of ringing phones, dinging messages, strident, urgent demands for our attention; deadlines to the left, commitments and obligations to the right. Amidst this hurley burley of activity, the days fly by and with them the years and it is all too easy to wake up find ourselves not living the life we designed intentionally but rather a life created more by happenstance than conscious choice.
If we do not have a North Star to guide us, to lock onto, it is so, so easy to drift with the prevailing wind, to be swept along by tides not of our making, to allow the urgent (maybe important, maybe not) to master us while the important but not urgent falls to the wayside. To quote Nietzsche (1844-1900): “The most common form human stupidity is forgetting our purpose.” A bit blunt but it gets the point across.
Tim Urban did a great Ted Talk on procrastination (link below), humorously focusing on how most of us accomplish things at deadline when a “Panic Monster” takes over and provides motivation. Poignantly, he also talked how his research resulted in a flood of responses, many with a heaviness in tone, from people coming from a dark place. They were writing about the kind of procrastination that can occur when there is no external deadline to motivate: “like seeing your family or exercising and taking care of your health, working on your relationship or getting out of a relationship that isn’t working… so the effects of procrastination, they’re not contained; they just extend outward forever.”
One key to not frittering away your life is to schedule your priorities v. prioritizing your schedule (is what’s on your schedule now really yours? What is important to YOU? Or more what is important to others?). But to make sure your priorities are on your schedule, you must think through your priorities, know your purpose. Having written goals for the crucial roles in your life, action plans and accountability deadlines along with journaling faithfully is a terrific way to stay on mission. I’ve found that even a thing as simple as a “To Do List” helps me find the energy at the end of the day, when my energy and motivation may flag just a bit, to do just a thing or two more to start the next day with a cleaner slate. I will also often divide my list into immediate (Today!), in between (This Week), and longer term (what can I do to move this along, take another step in the process).
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.” – Zig Ziglar, 1926-2012
“The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.” – Charles Dickens, 1812-1870, Great Expectations
“He who every morning plans the transactions of that day and follows that plan carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” – Victor Hugo, 1802-1885 The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Les Misérables
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier