Another year is coming to a close. It’s time to assess situations and plan for the new year ahead. We live in a world with limitless options, yet we never seem satisfied.
People tend to value what they don’t have and focus on acquiring new things. The nation’s self-storage industry is worth more than its motion picture industry. At the same time, the square footage of the average house has grown 65% since 1974. We have and keep more stuff than we can use.
What is the cost of over-valuing things shiny and new? When we are constantly in pursuit, we neglect what we already have.
Does this mentality keep us from pursuing our real dreams, or even having dreams? Are we so consumed by the details of our lives and constant stimuli that we have lost the ability to think beyond what is in front of us?
David Allen’s Getting Things Done-The Art of Stress-Free Productivity suggests a method to free yourself of all the stuff in your head. He says all your unfinished commitments cause undue stress. He recommends a few systems of list writing and review to clear out the stuff, put it in its place and give you clarity.
As the world is rushing by, stop and assess what you have, where you are and what you value. This requires neither a book, nor training; just thought, the tool of the knowledge age. Taking time to think about your life should not be a luxury. Knowing where you are today is an essential step of planning for tomorrow.
Stephen Covey’s habit – Begin with the End in Mind is the next step to planning. Where am I, then where do I want to be?
Clarifying commitments is discussed by both authors. Covey speaks of taking action inside your circle of influence; making responsible choices whenever you have direct control. Allen recommends clarifying commitments; determining exactly what you have promised. Allen pushes the clarity concept to the point of establishing the next physical action necessary to move the commitment toward closure.
In Covey’s books First Things First and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People , he suggests writing a personal mission statement; discovering your principles. Once you have determined your values or principles, choices will be easier to make. The time and effort required to think through your personal principles may be worthwhile given a world filled with constant choices.
Another piece of the planning puzzle is to ask yourself, What one small change can I make on a regular basis that will impact my life positively? Exercise is the most frequent response. Time without television is another. As is, dinner with family. A simple consistent change has boundless results. Perhaps in 2009, we will learn to enjoy what we already have.
Assess and Plan – A Management Approach