For many, it is easier to lament lack of having the thing or achieving the lofty goal than to perform the calculations. For those who perform the calculations, many deem the cost too high and therefore refuse to pay it. Note that the “cost” is sometimes monetary, but more often is a function of investing time and disciplined effort toward a chosen goal. Failure to pay the price is unfortunate, because the status quo leads to lack of fulfillment, and that ultimately leads to unhappiness. Once you pass up an opportunity, it seldom reappears.
I’m not referring to material things here; my thoughts extend far beyond the essential ingredients for a comfortable life, to the “things” that make a life truly worth living. Our work life doesn’t have to be separate from our personal life, although it certainly can be. In my case, at least, I’ve discovered that fulfillment through meaningful activities at work contributes to a sense of well-being that extends to personal and family time. I’ve been at this for so long now that the two are interwoven, complementary and in reasonable balance. It hasn’t always been that way.
Work is full of so many “urgent” actions to address, that it can be difficult to know what to do first, or next. I’ve learned, however, that eradicating those actions is like playing the carnival game, “Whack-a-mole”. (If you haven’t played that one, Google it to learn more!). The alternative is to identify those “important” activities that will move you closer to your life goals; typically no one else is going to ask you about them, check on your progress, or give you a deadline. Therein lies the problem!
Important activities deserve a place on your calendar and the Focus, Discipline and Action to defend them. (Thank you, John Spence). If you treat important activities as critical — like a doctor’s appointment or child’s graduation — you’ll somehow carve out the time for them. Time spent on those important things will increase your value to yourself and others, while moving you steadily closer to the goal.
This isn’t a “one and done” exercise. It’s ongoing and never-ending; when you tackle one big thing, another typically rises to take its place. Awareness of the price you pay, coupled with a willingness to invest, will enable you to move steadily onward — and upward.