Jul 26, 2010
How To Keep Urgency From Ruining Your Life
Life is incredibly distracting. No matter how enthusiastically you set goals, it’s just too easy let yourself get pulled away from taking action on them because of daily urgencies and reactive thinking – and then it’s weeks/months/years later and you’re sitting around, asking “where did all the time go?”
The thing is, the time didn’t go anywhere. It’s was there, waiting for you to be focused enough to take action.
Here’s the thing: Your action-taking muscles will serve whatever seems most important to you in the moment. Sometimes what’s more important to you in the moment turns out to be protecting yourself from discomfort (in which case the action you take is really “inaction.”).
Other times that action will be something that’s aligned with your true goals in life, and that’s pretty sweet.
But a more likely scenario is that something urgent will come into your field of vision and that urgency will give it a sense of inflated importance - and you’ll focus your action-taking muscles on that, forgetting about your true goals. Making other people’s inflated sense of urgency will become a habit, and you’ll strengthen the habit of serving what’s screaming loudest at any given moment.
And weeks/months/later, when you’re wondering “where did all the time go?” you’ll feel sad. Very, very sad.
Let’s talk about how to fix this problem so you can get what you really want in life.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with urgencies – sometimes the things that pop up truly are important, and you have to take care of them right then and there. But once you take care of them, you need to get back to what’s truly important in your life.
And in some cases, the urgent thing that pops up really does need to be taken care of … but just not right this second. It won’t end the world to make it wait just a little bit, so you can keep focusing on what’s truly important. Instead of breaking away to distraction, schedule the urgent thing at a time when it won’t get in the way of your true goals.
But in reality, “getting back to your goals” doesn’t always happen.
The problem comes when we handle an urgency – whether now or later – and we don’t snap back into focusing on our true goals.
(Actually, the real problem may be that you haven’t strongly and clearly defined your true goals in the first place – but for the sake of this post, let’s assume you have.)
You need a simple, easy-to-use mechanism for keeping your goals in front of you at all times – and keeping yourself re-committed to those goals. If you don’t have this, urgency will rule your life.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to get a stack of index cards and keep them by your desk. Every morning, re-write your most important “true” goals in life on them to re-commit yourself to making those your priorities, the things that you spend your time working towards.
The “every morning ” part here is important, because the act of writing those goals regularly is an exercise in conditioning your brain to think “These are the things I really want to make happen.” Unless you work at conditioning that sense of clarity in your mind, you’re going to be more susceptible to getting caught up in distraction.
Do this every day, and it will begin to get harder and harder to stay off track. An urgency will come up, and you’ll power through it, thinking “I need to hurry and get back to (that important goal).” Or an urgency will come across your desk and you’ll say “You know, I’ll schedule this for the weekend, or for the end of my workday.”
Develop this habit, this focus, and you’ll get massive results. (As I get ready to publish this, I see Glen Allsopp has writen on this as well, so there’s some backup if you need it.)
Do you have the guts to write down your most important goals every single day?
I say “guts” because this takes real courage – it means that you’re establishing a baseline level of accountability in your life to really work on these goals each day, each week, each everything.
You can start small – just write out a few basic quality of life goals (meaning you don’t have to say “I’m going to make a million dollars,” you can just say “I’ll stop work at 5 and have time with my family.”)
Whatever you focus on, you’ll gravitate towards. What ever you remind yourself is important wil remain important, even if the voice of urgency gets loud.
It’s your life. You can let it pass by, or you can rock it.
So here’s what I’m going to tell you to do right now …
- Pick five important goals and write them down somewhere, right now. Index card. Notebook. Back of that piece of paper that’s been sitting on your desk forever, I don’t care. Do it now – even before you leave a comment.
- Then leave a comment below and let me know that you did it, and where you’re going to write these goals out daily. If you don’t want to put your name in, put “Ass Kicker,” that’s good enough for me.
- Spread the word about this article. I hope it’s been “clicking” for you, and I want it to really get some reach. Click that retweet button below if you would, and spread the word however you can.
Do it now – you’ll thank yourself for it.
That is all -