So much to do and so little time!
Where does the time go? Haven’t you asked yourself that very question over and over? Many of us feel we could apply for the job in the circus. You know the one — the man walking on stilts balancing plates on sticks, as we all watch breathlessly to see which plate will fall first.
Is that your fear? Which of your plates will fall first? One of my clients describes her situation this way: “I feel like I am juggling eggs and it’s only a matter of time until one of my very important priorities goes ‘splat.'”
Years ago, that was my fear. Until one day when I realized that I had to slow down and create some balance in my life or all of those plates were going to come crashing down!
At the time, I owned a successful real estate company, I was a top-producing agent, regional event planner for our franchise, an instructor of continuing education at the University of Houston, mother of four and a woman determined to follow her dream of becoming a professional speaker. Reviewing that long list of roles, responsibilities and aspirations, may help you see that not only were my plates spinning, my head was spinning.
I knew that something had to change or I was in danger of ending up spinning my wheels, not ever catching up and never accomplishing my dreams. If you identify with this frustrating and fearful pattern, I have good news for you. There is a way out. You can start making your dreams come true. What it took for me was taking the time to stop and listen and learn.
Find a place to just sit quietly. My place to stop and sit quietly was by the water. Yours may be a comfortable chair by a sunny window or even at your desk if you can forward the phones and hang a “do not disturb” sign on your door.
Without taking the time to stop and consider where you really want to go, others will decide your destiny by default. Your destiny is too important to let anyone else decide for you.
Like me, you have probably already mastered the art of doing things faster and faster. Unfortunately, I was only increasing my speed. I wasn’t going where I really wanted to go. Do you find yourself racing to go faster in whatever direction life is taking you? Are you running harder to satisfy the demands others place on you, instead of directing your own course toward your dreams?
The first step in restoring balance and direction in my life was to take the time to stop and do some soul searching. I needed to identify what was really important to me and to determine how I could reach my full potential in life.
We all have a purpose, a reason for being. We each possess God-given talents. It is up to us to manage our lives and create the time to fulfill our purpose, our reason for being on earth.
During this quiet time some thoughts became very clear to me. I wanted to honor and serve God by using the talents and skills He has blessed me with. I acknowledged that above everything else I wanted to rear positive, confident, Christian children. I wanted my actions on a daily basis to let each of them know I love them unconditionally.
I invite you to invest some time in yourself, in your own future and your dreams. Take this first step. Spend some time quietly thinking and considering your own God-given talents, your purpose, your reason for living and your dreams.
Second, I knew I wanted to share the joy of hope and happiness with every person I meet. The best way for me to do this is through my speaking and consulting. I wrote down my dreams and my goals. Then, doubts and fears arose. I wondered, how can I ever make these dreams come true when I have so much — not just on my plate — but on all of these plates already?
By becoming very quiet and really listening I heard the answer. The very simple answer.
Know what you want, create a plan to make it happen, become organized, use time wisely and prioritize daily.
I had to let go of the Superwoman, Supermom, Superwife syndrome and realize that I am only one. I am only here now and I choose to live in the moment, enjoying the moment.
What did I do first? I evaluated myself: my talents, strengths and learning experiences. I determined my purpose and mission for my life and career. And then I took the time to dream. You can let yourself go and dream big dreams, when you know that whatever you dream and believe you can make come true.
Listening is the step you take when you work though this goal-setting process. Listen to your own heart while you also consider your experiences, talents, skills and preferences. This helps you determine which of your dreams can begin to take shape as goals. Once I had identified my goals, I prioritized each of my goals in their order of importance to me.
Never underestimate the power of identifying and writing down your goals. It’s true that this step by itself, without making choices and following through with actions, will not make your goals a reality. But writing goals down, where you can see them and measure your progress, is the map that guides you where you want to go. You will be amazed at the wisdom and resources you have inside yourself that you never knew were there.
When you stop you discover what matters most to you. And when you listen, you hear your own heart speaking to you about your goals and dreams in life. Then your priorities become clear.
Now while I was certainly in a better frame of mind — my head wasn’t spinning quite so much — I still didn’t have time to accomplish my goals and start making my dreams come true. What was missing?
Time management and organization.
I knew I had to redirect some of the energy I was wasting on spinning my wheels. Instead, I invested my energy into learning everything I could about time management and organization.
These indispensable tools of time management and organization have given me two hours a day that I didn’t have before. You can achieve the same results. But stop to identify your priorities and your goals first and then your time management and organization will be on the right track. Without the first steps, time management by itself allows you to do more of what you don’t want faster.
With the ability to manage my time and the organizational techniques in place to support me, I could start moving in the direction of my goals. By having my goals prioritized and a plan of action, I could make it happen.
For the first time in my life, I experienced what it is to live life on purpose. I have embraced, accepted and lived the concept that “Life is time…make it count!®” And it has made all the difference.
Time management in the 21st Century is about so much more than time. It is life management. Many of us achieve material well being and success, only to discover that we have sacrificed the very thing that life itself is made up of: our time. We are rich in things but poor in time.
You do not have to settle for that.
You can learn to live on purpose. Learn to put every moment to its highest and best use, focus on what you do right and learn from what needs to be improved.
We have heard it over and over: this isn’t a dress rehearsal, this is the real thing. How many of us live our lives as if we really believed that statement? Now you can.
We have so much information, so many tools, so many opportunities in the 21st Century. The decisions we make on a daily basis could seem impossible unless we learn to master focus. When we take the time to stop, listen and learn how to focus our energy and actions in the direction we want to go, we begin to make real progress towards our goals.
You may not have gotten into the circus of keeping those plates spinning because you are a perfectionist. But many of us have set unreasonably high standards for ourselves. We hear the pace of business will only keep getting faster and we see it happening in our own careers. Our lives present us with more choices, more demands on our all-too scarce time.
Managing your life in the 21st Century with this three-step process requires you to give up your impossibly high standards, to let go of your perfectionism. In place of perfectionism, you can enjoy making progress, sure and steady progress, toward your goals. You can make progress toward living your dreams.
Once you step out of the circus act, you will find yourself as I have, feeling more like the Ringmaster, guiding the action and enjoying the show.