“What is urgent is seldom important, and what is important is seldom urgent”
Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America
A few days back, I posted a question on social media that I would like to repeat here today:
Do you think purpose in life is the direct reason for your endeavors in life today?
If you stopped to think and reflect about that question, you will be amazed how deep it is. Now thinking is one thing, but being is quite another. Supposing you answered in the affirmative on that question, then it follows that:
That is where the rubber meets the road. Now, very many people have a good heart and good intentions. Some might have answered the question in the affirmative, and yet the succeeding questions point out to them that they answered the premium question wrongly: their daily endeavors in life are not directly linked to their purpose.
Such people normally look at a future time when they will be able to “settle down” and start pursuing their purpose:
The list is endless!
Do you see something interesting here? The common denominator is that people are “postponing” living their purpose to some ‘time’ in the future. There is even a popular inspirational song out there on social media proclaiming:
“My tomorrow will be greater than today”
Oh well, [ictt-tweet-inline]Please note that your tomorrow being better than today is directly proportional to how prepared you are for it today![/ictt-tweet-inline]! My point? Today matters so much. You can no longer postpone living your purpose.
So the greatest excuse you hear is:
“I am so busy I do not have time for myself”
Can you believe that? I know, in many instances, this is a pretty valid statement. People ARE busy. People ARE swamped. People ARE putting in lots of overtime in order to catch up. People have mountains of in-trays, lots of pending things and myriads of unfinished businesses. These are the people that I would love to address today.
Pray tell me, when will you “get time” for yourself?[ictt-tweet-inline] How is it that you have time for all the other things apart from the most important person in their equation—you?[/ictt-tweet-inline]
I believe that if we are intentional enough, there could be a way out of the situation. I believe that every single day offers an opportunity for us to practice our purpose or at least inch closer to it. I think that intentionality is the key. However, the greatest heartbreak is that most people have been dulled by incessant daily activity and have been tied up and lost in the mountain of backlogs. By the time you lift your head from the mountain, you are 55 years old and the word “retire” becomes ominously real. For now, you think you have all the time in the world…but you really don’t. The earlier you stop the traffic and examined your life the better.
Here are some pointers you can use to redeem your time and focus on your purpose:
If we stopped to analyze our daily activities, we would be shocked that we are spending so much time on things that are not necessarily up to us to do them. Even if that was so, we spend so much time doing things that do not have to be done now at the expense of those that we should. The urgent things are those that scream at us as if the world is coming to an end. It is kind of like when a team of paramedics get into an accident scene, they know that the seriously injured are not the ones screaming at the top of their lungs. It is those who are motionless and silent. Those are like the important things that we ought to put our attention to.
For the most part, people tune off the important things such as life review, daily reading and preparation, physical exercise, communication and time with family, acts of random kindness to humanity and so on. Such things seem so trivial yet they are the ones that we shall really care about when we near the grave. The excuse today is that if you focus on the urgent, they will produce fruit that will be fodder for the important. I have lived less than a quarter of my life and I am aware that this is the greatest lie I ever lived. Stop it!
One version of this principle states that 20% of activities will contribute to 80% of the output. The problem is that people focus on 80% of activities that produce 20% of the desired output in terms of purpose. If you documented your activities in such a way that 20% of your daily activities will be set aside specifically for purpose related issues, you will be on track. This of course means that you have to be intentional, and introspective and organized to identify these activities beforehand. The key is that you need to prioritize these 20% to become what I call the “non-negotiables” of your life. This means that come rain or shine, these 20% MUST be done. If you had this outlook in life, you will find that everything you do in your life revolves around your 20%. You find that it makes sense to wake up an hour earlier. It makes sense to sleep earlier. It makes sense to cull a host of “Junk activities” from your life. You can always do without the news, the gossip, the endless series of movies. Yes you can.
[ictt-tweet-inline]Perhaps the greatest reason why people say that they do not have time is because they are unplanned and hence disorganized.[/ictt-tweet-inline] I dare you to do a simple research. Interview 5 people who are always saying that they don’t have time for their purpose in life. You will find that more than 90% of these do not plan. What they call planning is reactionary ordering and prioritizing of urgent/important tasks. [ictt-tweet-inline]Great Planning is done separately and away from the work…not at work.[/ictt-tweet-inline] I guarantee you that the moment your foot is planted at work, the moment you get into that door, the battle of urgent vs. important starts raging. And guess what? For the unplanned, the urgent will always win. I wrote about planning here.
Secondly, being efficient is key. Some people spend hoards of time doing manual things that a computer can help with. They spend time clerking in stock items in a book, something that a good stock management system or even an accounting system can handle with more accuracy, efficiency and excellence. [ictt-tweet-inline]Your enduring challenge each day should be to find ways that you can do your work in the easiest, fastest and most harmonious way[/ictt-tweet-inline]. That is what efficiency is. This frees up time that you had already used up in your personal development.
Myles Munroe says that a good leader is known by their being not needed. In other words, they set up systems in place in such a way that not everything depends on them. Of course there is a massive difference between delegation and abdication. Delegation has an element of mentoring, training and passing on the baton. Also, delegation has an element of leaning on what you do best and releasing what you do worst to others. An entrepreneur who is starting up might find himself doing everything. But as growth continues, it is important to release oneself to focus only on where your strengths are. There is no misunderstood scripture like “I can do all things…”. No you cannot. You are not God. You can only do some things well. And even if you can do all things, you cannot do all of them at once and in one lifetime. Find some trusted people to delegate. Do not be scared of them taking up your position. How else will you get a better position? Grow people and release yourself to do what you do best!
Now that most people are employed, someone might challenge me by saying that it would be stealing from your employer if you pursued your purpose while at work. Let’s discuss that on point 6. However, the point i that you must MAKE TIME after work to work on your craft. You might not need 8 hours a day, but probably two or even one. Think about adding 7 hours each week to your purpose intentionally. How much time will that be at the end of the year? You wanna guess? That’s a whooping 336 Hours per year. Do you know how much they charge for a course in which you take 336 hours? Go find out and come back tell me. You will find it easier to create an hour a day AFTER work.
Well, if you do not what to feel guilty for doing purpose – related work while employed, please find tasks within your organization that directly link you to your purpose. Are you good at writing? Find a way of getting writing assignments at work. Better yet, find a job in an organization that does what things you are passionate about and that link to your purpose in life.
Let’s not say that we are so busy to do what is within our purpose.