What Will You Do This Year?
You can sure tell it is the beginning of the year once again. Marketing departments are capitalizing on our natural inclination to start fresh when we ring in a brand spanking New Year.
Just look at some of the things you get bombarded with to create a new you. Weight loss programs, exercise equipment and gym membership ads boldly beckon you to get busy and take action. And stores fill their displays with calendars, organizers and all sorts of handy items so you can record all of your activities and schedules in style. Then there are the apps, the software and the links across devices so you can make sure not to miss one single thing you’re committed to doing.
By god, we’re going to be organized this year and get things done. This is the year.
Wait a Second. May I Interrupt?
What things, exactly? I get this feeling that as a culture, as companies, as organizations, even as bosses, we sometimes value getting things done more than doing what’s important. Staying this busy can actually be detrimental to our goals.
You see, I think it’s important to get the important things done.
Somehow busy has become the metric that matters. Are you busy? Are your employees busy? Do you have too much on your plate? Are you always checking your phone for emails, texts and same-times (even when you clearly don’t have to)?
Staying busy gives the illusion of working hard. We get tricked into thinking we’re better off if we’re busy because we feel like we are getting something done. As you look back on your day, do you ever notice you haven’t really gotten anything accomplished? If every day of every week is booked solid with meetings, conference calls, networking events, business lunches, board meetings, and the occasional sporting event, and the time in between is spent answering texts, urgent voicemails, and emails, when do you have time to fulfill your values and goals? Most important, when do you have time to think about why you’re really here…to decide what kind of a contribution you want to make?
Yes, I Will Say It…Make a Contribution.
It’s more important (and yes, less urgent) to take stock of what mark you want to make in the long run. We have a limited amount of physical and mental resources per day. If we’re mindlessly expending those resources so that we feel like we are getting something done, then we don’t have time to worry about what’s meaningful, do we?
Every Good Leader Yearns for Meaning.
When a leader takes ownership of his unique story and focuses on his goals to make a positive impact on the world, he sets an internal navigation to what’s important. I have always drawn inspiration from Steve Jobs who let vision, values and purpose guide him to making a difference with technology and leaving a lasting legacy. Several other outstanding leaders stand out for me because they understand their purpose and are driven to make meaningful contributions in their own way. They include media maven Oprah Winfrey, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People author Stephen Covey. Look at the leaders who you admire. Are they successful because they do what is next – or do what is important…what really matters?
How to Begin to Get Organized this Year.
Instead of buying into everything that encourages you to stay busy this year, here’s a simple way to improve your leadership work ethic. Take five minutes right now to get started in this discovery process:
- Reflect on who you are as a leader and a person
- Think about the strengths you have to contribute
- Determine the mark you want to make
Clarify what you want your legacy to be. What (and who) is most important to you. And figure out how to do what you’re meant to do even better this year. Then you can start to contribute your distinct talents in more meaningful ways that will make a lasting difference.
If you focus on what is really important, you can keep the day-to-day in perspective. You can be clear about how to get closer to your life’s purpose –what I call your extraordinary story. You will know what to do to keep work and life on track and what isn’t so important after all. This kind of clarity will guide you to more easily know:
- when to say yes
- when to say no
- and what to consider that you’ve never even thought of before
Plus, you’ll probably have a lot more time to workout, eat better, lower your stress, and get that office organized after all.
Say goodbye to mindless doing. Here’s to your 2013 being filled with mindful being. Make this your year to lead with your extraordinary story!