Humans by nature are seekers. We want more. To be recognized and rewarded. We want to feel valued. Mostly, we want to be at peace inside. As I “enter” full retirement mode I’ve asked others to reflect on what I did well when I managed. The feedback was overwhelmingly consistent!
You taught me that who I am is what I do everyday. It’s not the big wins and moments, it’s all the tiny everyday actions that build up to the milestones.
I do believe this is true. I strive to do what matters to me every day. How can I tell if I am making progress? I ask myself three questions:
How do I spend my time?
Alignment between who I want to be and what I do is critical to building my self-esteem and my happiness. We all know the difference between a day when nothing special happens and yet I sail through; vs. a day when nothing special happens and I get side-tracked and annoyed.
Do I spend my day thinking about making that call I don’t want to make? Or do I take a deep breath, be brave and dial the phone? Honesty is key here. When corporations are out of alignment. it shows in morale, production and profits. If you say you invest in employees, well then it should show in how the management team and staff spend their days. Does the staff feel invested in? Are they able to see your efforts in action? Do you believe it in and work to build your culture? Do you spend your time on what you say you spend your time on?
Make it Personal.
It’s the same thing in your personal life. I want to be a writer. Do I think and think and plan what to write? Am I stuck in the getting ready to get ready phase? Organizing my files, picking out the best pens? Looking for classes or groups to be part of? How often do I actually sit and write? Is writing part of my ritual, my schedule? For example, have I set up each day so there is no reason not to write? Now, I write everyday. And that has made all the difference.
What does that say about me?
It says I know who I am; I am not scared to put my priorities first. I know I can meet my commitments. Can I also enjoy my time? Time is the most precious possession of which you can never make more. Am I waiting for it to happen or do I make it happen? When I do what I say I will do, it says I am trustworthy and honorable. I act on what I plan to do.
For years it was about my career. Working hard was in alignment with my goals. My choice was to spend a majority of my time on the job. As a result the question was, what type of work did I want to do? The question was how did I want to spend that time? Even though I was good at putting out fires, that didn’t make me happy. My interest was in developing new programs and growing revenue. I took action to organize my time, staff and priorities to get that done. It wasn’t always easy but it was what I wanted. Efficiency hacks work to make more time in your day. Read about some here.
That says a lot about what I do every day and how I wanted to influence the organizations I worked for. When I spend my day not doing what I want and yielding to others, it builds resentments. Who can be their best self under those circumstances?
Are my beliefs “mostly” in alignment with my actions?
Look at what you do during the day from the outside. Not as yourself but as someone watching you. Be specific about:
- How you spend your time; vs.
- What you tell yourself; vs.
- What you tell others; vs.
- What you really want to be doing.
There is a lot to pay attention to, but this is the essence of the disconnect. These questions, faced with true honesty will shed light on all the places there are crossed lines in your thinking, that lead to disconnects in your actions. It is these disconnections, the things we hope will change, we want to change, and we settle for, that teach us the most about how we are not showing up for ourselves.
Easy does it to get your thinking and actions into alignment. A slight course correction overtime will change your direction. Head towards the life you want to live. Spend your time on what you must, your commitments and make sure you find the joy even in the things you must do. In short, then make sure you spend a portion of your waking time doing what you set out to do. What is true to who you want to be. Enjoy the hell out of it!