The mosquito in the nudist colony looks around and says, "I know what to do, I just don't know where to begin." So much opportunity, what should I do first?
Prioritizing what to do daily is critical to our success. Our destiny for 2015 will be the accumulation of 365 days, one day at a time.
Begin With the End in Mind
How do we understand the importance of tying the actions of each day to our future? Stephen Covey quoted me in his final book, The 3rd Alternative. regarding living a mission-based, meaningful life. I was just starting to connect with him when he died tragically in a bicycling accident. He understood why choices we make every day are so important to where we end up, saying, "Until a person can say deeply and honestly, 'I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,' that person cannot say, 'I choose otherwise.'"
We must tie every day to the long haul. If we focus on just today, we claim victories that are only imposters. If we focus too much on the future, we get fogged or discouraged by the lack of measurable progress today. The actions of every day must be connected to where we want to end up.
Here's a progression that clearly gives us that connection:
- Lifetime Goals--what are the things I want to do the rest of my life that I can never check off as completed--the big, continuous stuff? This is why I'm alive. Get clarity on your Lifetime Goals--it is foundational to understanding how today matters. As Covey encourages, "Begin with the end in mind."
- Ideal Lifestyle--How much time and money do I need in order to create the Ideal Lifestyle for living out my Lifetime Goals? I can't answer this until I know my Lifetime Goals. Most people are aiming for an Ideal Lifestyle that isn't connected to any deep motivation for having it. It's no wonder most people never reach their Ideal Lifestyle. They don't know why they want it.
- Pick a "When" - Critical to escaping the Mosquito/Nudist Colony problem is knowing when I want to arrive at my Ideal Lifestyle? He who aims at nothing hits it every time. Pick an exact date and work toward it. You might decide that in 2015 you will achieve 20% of your Ideal Lifestyle, and get there in five years. If you begin with the end in mind, you can know exactly where you want to be December 31, 2015.
- Determine Quarterly and Monthly Actions--Decide what you need to do in the first three months of 2015, and then what you think you can accomplish in January toward that quarterly objective. Be realistic--create success. We regularly overestimate what we can do in a month, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. That's one reason New Year's resolutions fail.
- Chose One Big Thing a Week--Covey told a story about a speaker doing a demonstration with a large glass jar seemingly full with big rocks. But then the speaker poured small pebbles in between the rocks, then sand and finally water.
One Big Thing First, Every Week
The point? When you start with the small stuff, there's no room for the big stuff. Most of us wake up every Monday morning consumed with the small stuff. Is it any wonder we end up where we are a year later? Pick one big rock a week--one strategic thing that will help you get to your Lifetime Goals--and make sure you put that in your schedule first. If you do, there will be plenty of time for the pebbles, sand and water of daily life. But if you pick the small stuff first, you'll never get to the big stuff.
If we know our Lifetime Goals, we can then back into what we need to be doing tomorrow. If you don't know what the end game looks like, how will you ever know what to do today? The Random Hope strategy of life is not a strategy.
Don't be a mosquito in a nudist colony. Know what to do, where to begin, and what to do next. Connect your daily activity to your Lifetime Goals and watch the fireworks begin. Happy 2015!