My family and I recently celebrated the life of my grandmother. While reminiscing, I ran across a yearbook from her senior year of high school. Next to everyone's picture was a section where they could indicate future ambitions upon graduation. Next to hers was something that I would have never guessed, "Go to business school."
Unfortunately, she never had the opportunity to pursue this goal. We didn't talk about it but I assume, as in most cases, life happened. Regardless, she played an important role in my life and taught me many critical lessons. This was one more to add to the list.
After reading her remarks, I came to a sudden realization that was better put to words by Les Brown, motivational speaker and thought leader.
"The graveyard is the richest place on earth because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered,..."
Now, I'm not saying that my grandmother didn't achieve her hopes and dreams. Rather than business school, her passions changed and her dreams were fulfilled through her family and other successes (for which I'm obviously very grateful). Now, we all serve as a testament to her sacrifices.
Her story did, however, provide some insight. If your goals are important, then you have to be intentional about pursuing them. In today's world, it's too easy to lose sight of our ambitions. Especially as we try to tackle everything else that life throws at us.
I have no doubt in my mind that my grandmother could have succeeded at business school. She was smart, witty, and had tons of energy. If business school was a goal that she was truly passionate about, then the only thing missing is what we all can't seem to find -- more time.
Let's take a look at a few ways to put ourselves back in the driver's seat. Here are four of my favorite time-management strategies from Joyce Brothers, an American psychologist.
1. Don't major in the minors
In other words, don't dabble. Don't let the little things become the big things. On any given day, there are hundreds of distractions that can rob us of our time. Some are avoidable, while others aren't. The key is to reel yourself back in and devote the greatest amount of time each day to the most important task.
Tony Robbins describes it this way: "One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular."
I can't tell you how many times I've said yes to "small things" and suddenly, the day's over and I haven't completed what I should have. Which leads me to my next point.
2. Say no, graciously, to the less important
Don't let the good become the enemy of the great. Knocking out the little things is good. They provide a fast sense of accomplishment and can make a to-do list look pretty impressive. Sadly, it's because of these, and the fear of saying no, that keeps us dependent on these quick fixes. Instead, say no, be patient, and stay focused.
Prioritize major projects ahead of time, and give yourself enough time to finish them. We jam-pack our days with so many tasks that we are constantly jumping from one to the next with little progress. Instead, when planning your day, overestimate the time it takes to do anything or get anywhere.
4. Practice contentment
Time, energy, and abilities flow effortlessly to that which has its adoration. Many things can serve as a hindrance to our goals. Regrettably, several of them are driven by a lack of contentment. Especially in a world like ours, controlled by consumerism. How much is enough? Just a little bit more.
What has your heart? If it doesn't compliment your goals, then get rid of it.
Graveyards are filled with good intentions. Don't be a victim of time. You can choose what your life becomes a tribute to. These few strategies are daily habits that can help you take back your time and achieve what you want in life. What's written in your yearbook?