Getting Focus in Your Life
By Roger Ellerton Phd, ISP, CMC, Renewal Technologies Inc. www.renewal.ca
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Are you one of those people who has a list of things they should do and rarely accomplishes any of the items on your list? Think back five years and notice how your life - career, relationships with your children, parents or spouse, health - would be different today, if you had actually accomplished some of the items on that 'should' list, rather than letting them wither and fall away. If you are a parent, recall all of the great 'shoulds' you thought of doing for/with your children. Great ideas that would have made a significant difference that your children never got to experience with you. Or what about the 'shoulds' you thought about with regard to your parents and now you do not have the opportunity to carry them out. Or think of today's 'should' list. How will your life be different later today, next week, next year or five years from now if you were to identify a few critical items on your 'should' list and actually do them?
This is not about trying to accomplish these critical tasks. This is about making a clear commitment to carry them out to the best of your abilities and available resources. That is, identify a small critical subset of must do activities, each with a clearly defined outcome and timeframe that you will honour.
Try? There is no try. There is only do or not do.
- Yoda, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back
Take a moment to review your 'should' do list. You know, the one you often keep in your head. I encourage you to write all of these 'should' activities on a piece of paper and if necessary on a second or third sheet - one activity below the other. Do you find the sheer number of items on your list overwhelming or demotivating? Does this feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders? How would you feel if, right now, you followed Yoda's advice and identified those that you are clearly prepared to do (and have the time and resources to do), while removing the others from the list?
Sometimes we become so overwhelmed by the number of 'shoulds' we do not know where to start and either choose to do nothing or work on those that really do not advance us toward what we want in life.
To get past this blockage, here is an approach that will allow you to identify those items that are critical to what you choose to accomplish and to discard the remainder.
Please put THIS activity on your must do list and not on your should do list. Set a time by when you will have completed the following activity. How about by the end of today?
Now take your list of 'shoulds' put them in a column (one listed below the other) and add four more columns. Label the four additional columns as follows:
- What will happen if I do this?
- What will happen if I don't do this?
- What won't happen if I do this?
- What won't happen if I don't do this?
Answer these questions for each of the items on your list. Review your answers and divide your list into two groups. The first list is those activities that you choose to do and are committed to do (Your 'Must Do' list) with specific timeframes. The second is those activities that you choose not to do (Your discard list). There may be some activities that do not fall in either list that you choose to delay (and not put any energy into) until the next time you review your list - say this time next week. At that time, you can reconsider these activities in light of what you have accomplished and desire to achieve.
Each week review your progress, keeping in mind 'there is no failure, only feedback'. That is, if things did not go as planned, notice what you learned about yourself, about others, about the task so that you can choose a different course of action and accomplish more next time. If during the week, you have identified more 'shoulds', subject them to the same process as above.
Enjoy and best wishes for success and happiness in your life.
Author: Roger Ellerton is a certified NLP trainer, certified management consultant and the founder and managing partner of Renewal Technologies. The above article is based on his book Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You.
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