January gets one to mull seriously about one’s goal list ! This year however, I noticed something that disturbed me greatly. I realised that in 2017, while my quick-fix problems got scored off the list, the bigger, more important ones remained. Untouched or half-done, they seemed to live in the next to-do list (and the next). Something was going wrong… Was I merely procrastinating? Why wasn’t the needle moving on the big rocks of my life? I decided to probe deeper and found the answer.
The risk of too many “priorities”
When competing obligations scramble for attention, energy and willpower, the “urgent” gets done, leaving the important behind. Note that all the three resources are limited and quickly depleted. Undivided attention is precious. Multiple devices distract us, leaving us with attention spans lesser than goldfish. Energy is fast dissipated, and so is willpower. Without the resources to focus, shallow work gets priority. The immediacy of completing the task gains an upper hand over what fits into the bigger scheme of things. We become busy being busy. We may believe we are doing a lot, until an year goes by without having achieved what was really important.
Zeroing in vs Crowding Out
So this year I decided to remedy the situation. I changed my mantra to “A goal a day“. Each night before turning in for the day, I ask myself – “What is the one goal that I absolutely need to achieve tomorrow?“. And the next day I focus my energy and attention to doing only that and let go of the rest. Instead of letting too many things crowd out what I really should be doing, I zero in on the one thing that I need to do. In the process, I see my goals everyday, eliminate overwhelm, evaluate how time was spent, how far I have come and how far I need to go further. Becoming an essentialist is tough, but achieving an important goal each day is better than having many waiting!