I will spend the majority of today doing what other people want me to do. You will too. So how do you fulfill your personal priorities when pressed by others to pay attention to their drama?
Let me preach on it. Due to the nature of my job as an executive leader in a nonprofit organization, I spend a large amount of my time listening to other people talk about what’s important to them. If I’m not listening at the moment, I have to be available to take that phone call or for the knock at the door followed by “do you have a moment?”
People Don’t Control Their Own Lives
In our modern society, people have a vague feeling of not controlling their own lives. We rush here and there in a big hurry, while questioning whether we accomplished anything worthwhile. This scenario is not going to change by itself. I’ll get nowhere as a leader if I hang a sign on my door that says “go away. You bother me!” Therefore, just telling everybody to get lost while I fulfill my priorities isn’t practical.
Here’s what I’ve learned about priority management from the school of hard knocks. Rather than live under the illusion that I can control my entire day, I set a priority of one or two big things to accomplish that day. I then work hard to complete those goals as early in the day as possible.
For example, my goal for today is to write and publish this blog post. Once at work, I won’t have the time. Later this afternoon, I have an obligation that serves someone else’s agenda rather than my own. But that’s life. Whether we like it or not, we spend a significant amount of our time doing what others want. So, I got up this morning in time to write the blog before leaving for work.
If you want to fulfill your priorities, plan to work hard at it. You won’t reach your goals in life with a passive approach. Complete at least one task each day that is devoted solely to your personal agenda. Whether it be taking a jog, reading a chapter in a book or practicing your guitar for 30 minutes, do something each day that helps you reach an important, personal goal. This time is non-negotiable. It comes before the phone calls and interruptions.
You Must Nurture Personal Priorities
If you want to fulfill your personal priorities, you must nurture them. Nobody else will. In fact, nobody else really cares. However, others will notice the results. String enough daily jogs together so that you trim up and lose weight and others will compliment you on “looking good.” Finish that book you’ve always wanted to write and others will be duly impressed. Just don’t expect them to cheer your journey before you complete it.
Human nature is such that other people are peachy with you accomplishing lofty goals, as long as it doesn’t get in their way. “Lose weight for sure, but go to lunch with me today.”
I’d love to write more, but have to get to work soon. What’s your priority for today? What’s one thing that if you accomplish it will get you closer to your goal? Mark it down and do it. Then your day will be successful, even with all the interruptions.