Did you start the year full of energy, raring to go? Now that we are six weeks in, how is it going? Have you settled into a groove that has you on pace to achieve the goals you declared at the top of the year? Or, has the euphoria subsided a bit and with it your tempo and effort – thus taking you out of your groove? If you said a little of both because you are feeling focused, on purpose, yet slightly lopsided, you are not alone.
This idea of being lopsided came to me during a recent financial coaching session. What I noticed with my clients is a pattern I recognize with others, and it’s not just confined to money.
But, I’m going to use money and the visual aspect of an exercise to illustrate my point. I use this all the time with my coaching clients and workshop participants, and it will be familiar to readers of my book as well. It’s called the “Financial Wheel:” Draw or envision a circle; divide the circle into four sections by drawing a horizontal and vertical line; label the upper-left-hand quadrant “Earn,” the upper-right-hand quadrant “Save,” the lower-right-hand quadrant “Invest,” and the lower left-hand quadrant “Spend.” Earn, save, invest, and spend represent the four things, very broadly, that any of us regardless of income level or asset wealth can do with our money.
However, when most people make financial goals they concentrate on the right side of the wheel – save and invest. But they don’t hone in on and create goals for the left side of the wheel – earn and spend. They are much more passive about this portion of the circle. They are, in effect,…lopsided!
Not surprisingly, when we are lopsided we lose steam and lose ground – even while our intent remains high. If this is where you find yourself – whether you are lopsided financially or otherwise – here are three suggestions to tilt you back to a position of balance so that you can press forward full steam ahead and achieve your goals.
This is always a big-a-boo, right? One of best tips I’ve ever received about time management came from a book, “Getting Things Done,” by David Allen. His point about separating projects from to-dos has helped me tremendously. When you look at your to-do list, how much of it is made up of tasks you can accomplish in a day versus items that need to live on your list a little longer? If the latter, they are probably projects.
Projects and to-dos are definitely related, but they are not the same. For example, grocery shopping is a to-do; planning and hosting a dinner party is a project.
I am learning to appreciate the idea of “limit to expand.” The trigger for getting off-balance – for becoming lopsided – is usually an overbooked calendar and unrealistic expectations of what you can accomplish in a day. You probably have multiple goals. Instead of working a little on each one every day, choose one or two goals on which to focus each day and identify the next to-dos that will propel you forward for that specific goal. I bet this will set you up for a greater number of wins.
You know that smartphone few of us can live without? Well, use it to schedule some “Work Space” time. This is focused time to work on specific projects, and you should do everything you can to protect this time; in other words, say “no” to tempting invitations and don’t use this time to work on things unrelated to what you’ve carved out this time to focus on.
True, none of the above are “sexy” suggestions. But even if you just select one (though I’d recommend employing all three) it’ll work wonders for your focus, purpose and symmetry.