Article #42, February, 2006
Make Success Your Priority
Overwhelm, distractions and the inability to say NO keep many people from achieving their potential. Too many opportunities paralyzes your ability to make the right decisions; EMail prevents focus. Guilt and 'shoulds' keep us busy with activities that fill our days, but do not get us closer to success!
We are not machines, so these things will happen. The key is to prioritize what you will allow to use your time. What is most important to you?
We read stories in Oprah's magazine and see on TV all these women who start multi-million dollar businesses while raising their 4 kids and their sister's 3 kids and all while volunteering at the school. Don't be fooled! You do not have the same life nor the same opportunities.
Here is what we don't see - her mom helps take care of the kids and cooks and cleans, her husband fronted the money, she didn't get more than 3 hours of sleep a night for 6 years, or her kids are completely out of control. Her priorities are not the same as yours and mine. Avoid comparing yourself to others - it is a dangerous trap, and you never know all the facts!
What are your priorities?
For me, raising my two girls as a single/only parent to be responsible, caring, contributing adults is my top priority. A distant second, is growing my business to a place where I work less and make more, and have lots of money for my retirement. Without raising my kids the way I want, it wouldn't matter how much money I had, I would be miserable. Besides, they will grow up and I will have a shift in my priorities then.
Setting your priorities is a very personal process. The big things are fairly easy; it's the every day stuff that becomes challenging. For example, I see many people who get asked to volunteer and say yes again and again, even though they know it delays the achievement of their goals. The little voice in their heads says, "Don't do it this time!", but they find themselves saying yes.
One of the hidden reasons behind this sometimes is that she wants to have a good excuse for not achieving her goals. "I've been so busy at the school/the networking group/the chamber of commerce, that I just couldn't build my business the way I wanted!"
Setting priorities is the first step. Put them on paper, then flesh out an action plan to accomplish your goals. For example, if it is your goal to exceed $50,000 in revenues this year, you will need to detail how you plan to do this, and get to work. The money will not fall in your lap, and you're not getting any younger! Once you have put your plan on paper, put it where you can see it and review it regularly.
When a new opportunity presents itself (that will absorb your time), delay your decision for an hour or a day - whatever time you have. Really think strategically - will this get me closer to my success as I have defined it? What will the benefit be and what will it cost in time and money if I say yes?
If you aren't making money right now, that needs to be your priority over long-term gains. You do need to keep longer term goals in mind, but don't find yourself spending all your resources on future gains - future gains won't pay the electric bill! Analyze opportunities as they present themselves:
- How will this benefit me and my family in the short term?
- Long term?
- What will this cost me in the short and long terms?
- What is that little voice in my head telling me?
Sometimes, you have to do the 'right thing'. If you are in debt and not taking care of yourself and your family properly, buck up and get a job. Pay off the debt and save your money so you can try starting your business later without being desperate.
Trust your inner wisdom, but at the same time, ask your 'trusted advisors'. Keep in mind that some of your advisors have their own agendas, and have a vested interest in the result.
Bottom Line: Having specific, written priorities keeps you focused on your plan, and helps you say NO when you need to!