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Don't wait for tomorrow

As I write this Florida is in the midst of being battered by Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Harvey’s effects have fallen off the news a bit, but clearly the effects will be felt there for years to come. There was an earthquake in Mexico that was one of their strongest ever but has barely made the news because of Irma.

On a less catastrophic level, tomorrow is Monday which means many of us start a new week filled with work, chores, commuting, etc. And the week after that looks pretty much the same, and so on.

If we had the opportunity to speak and I asked you “what is something you would do if money was no object?” – what would you say? What if I just asked you to describe a perfect day, or what you have always wanted to do, or what do you plan to do when you retire . . . someday?

I bring up the catastrophes and how most of us spend our days to make this point – TOMORROW IS NOT GUARANTEED! Waiting until some mythical someday to work towards our dreams is not a rational plan. What one thing can you do, right now, that would move things forward towards your dreams?

I am not suggesting you chuck all responsibility and only focus on your dreams. Stuff still has to get done. I spent many hours this weekend chopping down a couple of trees and digging out the roots. Jealous? I also, though, had a great date night with my wife and took a long walk today. Those helped me focus on things that are important to me while I keep working towards my dreams.

As I develop as a coach and get coached myself, one thing that has become clear is that alignment is really important. Putting your attention on the things that are most important to you is one of the most common challenges in coaching. When you focus too much on your “shoulds” vice your“wants” you feel out of alignment, even if you don’t recognize that. I realize no one necessarily wants to mow their lawn, but if you want your home to look good and to retain its value you can see how some chores actually help you achieve your goals.

When I work with people on productivity, I like to start by asking them to write down the biggest priorities in their lives. Then we take out their calendars and see how well they spend their time on those priorities. Most of the time this is a big revelation, because things like family, health, or even developing people (or themselves) are not well reflected in how they spend their time. Those of us who work for others can’t necessarily change all of our schedules, but if you make sure you get to your priorities, you can balance some other activities as well. For managers or anyone in a leadership role (hint, that is everyone), how you spend your time communicates your priorities. What would someone who just followed you around for a week conclude are your priorities based on how you spend your time?

In the coming week I will be spending a lot of time on coaching in addition to my actual job, much of it developing new skills. That is important to me. I will have to put a couple of other things on the back burner this week, but that is OK. I know what they are and I have built them into my schedule once I get past this next week. I know that I cannot fit progress towards all of my goals every day, but I can do something every day towards at least one of them.

You can do this too. You don’t need to change your life, just pick one of your neglected dreams and think a bit about what you can do to make it closer to reality. Then do something, no matter how small, to make some progress this week. I hope Mother Nature is done for a while with hurricanes and earthquakes and such. No matter what tomorrow may bring though, I will be happy to face it knowing that I continue to work towards my best life, just as you can do.

Now, go make it happen -- Tom

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