The Six Most Important Things

Do you set goals? Some people do, some don't. Who's right? There seem to be different schools of thought when it comes to setting goals. One school says that setting goals is the key to achieving what you want out of life. In a nutshell, goals lead to success. There's another school of thought that eschews goals as a useless exercise in trying to control the future. Take each day as it comes, instead. Live for today.

As one who teaches Time Management a lot these days to very frazzled people, I say: Do both. Set goals AND make the most of each day.

To bring this to life, I do an exercise called The Six Things. It goes like this. Instruct the participants to make three columns on a piece of paper. Head the three columns as follows: column one is headed "My Life;" column two is "This Year;" and column three is "This Week." (I got the idea for this exercise from a time management website. I would give credit if I could remember which one. My forgettory is working much better than my memory.)

Under each heading, write the six most important things:

The Six Most Important Things in Your Life: These are aspects of your life that are very dear to you, such as your marriage, your family, your career, your health, your business, your education. They are important to you, though not necessarily urgent right now.

The Six Most Important Things for This Year: These are annual goals, some work-related, perhaps some related to your family (e.g. take a vacation) or your home (e.g. paint the house). They are important to you and are probably scheduled somewhere on your calendar.

The Six Most Important Things to Accomplish This Week: These are the "A" priority tasks that you have triaged, identifying the "must do" items that others are counting on. If one of these slips, there will be a serious domino effect.

Participants like this exercise. Some say they never take the time to write down this sort of thing, especially the My Life ones.

Some find it a satisfying experience, one that reassures them that all is in order. It's good to be busy. "If you want something done, "the saying goes, "Give it to a busy person."

Others find the results troubling. Often one will say something like this: "I'm so busy with all my To Do's, I'm not allocating time to My Life concerns like my family, my health, and my personal development."

I think, if we are honest, many of us would say the same thing. We are very busy with all of the urgent tasks that must be done. We are laser-focused on the short-term.

What about the long-term? Where are we going? What do we want out of life?

There is a Spanish proverb that says: "A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools."

If a health scare occurs, then our health suddenly shifts from the My Life column to This Week. If we lose our job, then career and finances suddenly becomes a priority.

Stephen Covey has said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."

What are your main things? What are you doing to keep those things the main things in your life?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday June 21, 2011. For more ideas on setting goals and managing time, contact Terry and invite him to speak to your group. Terry Seamon is a Learning & Organization Development consultant with Facilitation Solutions, a training and organization effectiveness practice based in New Jersey. He has designed and delivered training for his clients on leadership, coaching, engagement, managing, communication, customer service, conflict, stress, teamwork, and change, and has written extensively on these and many other topics. Invite Terry to your organization to speak with your teams. Call today and discover how Terry can help you achieve your goals: 732-246-3014.


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