Priorities: A life in balance
We all have limited time, both in each day and on this earth.
What is holding you back from both thinking big and accomplishing audacious goals? What are you willing to give up in order to achieve your life purpose? What is so sacred that you cannot sacrifice it without losing part of yourself?
Ray Dalio put it well when he said:
I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.
A life in balance
I think Dave Allen's 5 Horizons of Focus is a great framework to help answer the questions we posed at the beginning of this post. By identifying our purpose, principles, and core values and making sure that what we do is in support of those, we can ensure that our efforts are moving us closer to where we want to go. It also gives us a framework to help us evaluate and eliminate distractions.
Although you can definitely start by doing a deep dive and determining your life purpose off the bat, you can really start at any level. I suggest you start with whatever is taking up the most space in your mind.
- Are you thinking about your responsibilities? Start with “Areas of Focus”.
- Is there something tangible you're trying to accomplish? Start with “Projects”.
- Do you have some financial or health goals? Start with “Goals and Objectives”.
Then use the questions “How?” and “Why?” to help you move up and down horizons, respectively.
For example, I have the goal of someday becoming a CTO. Let's move up the horizons of focus:
- Why do I want to be CTO? I want to be an intrepreneur and play a pivotal role in a company. (my vision)
- Why do I want to play a pivotal role in a company? I want to create something that has a lasting positive impact on the world. (my purpose)
Conversely, let's move down the horizons of focus:
- How am I going to become a CTO? By improving my leadership (an area of focus),
- How am I going to improve my leadership? I'm going to read through books on leadership and read the books five times (a project).
- How am I going to start reading books on leadership? I'm going to drive to the bookstore and purchase some books on leadership (a task).
Repeat again and again. Then organize.
Now pick a different area (such as your health, your relationship with your spouse, or even random tasks you've been meaning to accomplish around the house) and then repeat the process. This is not an exercise that you can accomplish in a couple of hours. It requires time, focus, and solitude. However, slowly, as you work through this process, your priorities will emerge.
It can be helpful to capture all you've discovered in a mind map.
Personally, I started with a mind map and then started using Goalscape as a replacement, a tool I've been finding extremely helpful.
Fight and Win!
Now that you have your priorities, use them to guide what projects you decide to take on and how you use your time.
I'll leave you with the following quote from Robert Greene which is inspiring me to action:
A heightened sense of urgency is a trait that the most successful entrepreneurs share. For them, every day is a battle, and they treat it as though it's a matter of life and death... It's not that they're smarter or more skilled; it's that they will outwork you. They are obsessed with winning.
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