The year is off to its usual frenzied start. New ideas, new goals, new routines, new plans.
My inbox is full of it. The media is awash with all the ways we can be more productive this year, master our to-do lists, adopt the habits of the highly successful, set big hairy goals and smash them. You name it.
Personally, I love this time of year for the energy that’s unleashed. But there’s one thing I’m not seeing a whole lot of discussion around. Defining what matters. Standing in our own truths about what we want to create (and what we want to enjoy) in our lives.
Don’t get me wrong. Goals, to-do lists, bucket lists, productivity hacks– they’re all great tools. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of these tools, when used appropriately.
Tools, though, are all they are.
Life is about far more than your to-do list, smashing goals or maximizing productivity. It’s about what truly matters to you, not the tools you use to get there.
I’d venture to say that business is much the same. Same goes for your career.
For the record, I love these tools and many others. Sometimes, we absolutely need to harness our productivity in order to accomplish what matters. Sometimes, goals are carefully mapped out way stations on our bigger journey.
Even the much-maligned to-do list can serve as our little agenda of momentum or help us to set boundaries around maintaining a sense of balance.
And sometimes, they are not any of these things.
Sometimes, our tools are working against what really matters to us. We get caught up in them. They cloud our vision. Sometimes, we use them in ways that aren’t serving us at all.
It happens in the moments when we devour productivity tips and tricks so that we can get more done in less time– without asking if more is what needs to be done, or if we need to actually do less, or different.
It happens in the moments when we’re buying into (and sharing with anyone who will listen) the drama of our own busy-ness, without asking what we’re really so busy about.
It happens in the moments when we forget to ask why (or whether) we want to achieve the goals we’ve set and what will happen when we get there.
The truth is, I’ve written specific annual goals for years, personally and in my business. I advise every one of my clients to map out clear rest stops along the road of their vision.
But before all that?
You need to know– and really be honest about– what matters to you. What is your life well-lived? What does meaningful work look like for you?
(There are no right answers to these questions.)
And then, you need to build the courage to stand for it.
When you tune out the noise and get very clear about how you define your success, then (only then) you can cut through the noise to select exactly the right tool. You’ll know how to put it to work. And that’s when things really start happening.
(If you’d like some help getting these pieces in place, check out the Launch Your Reinvention online class.)