by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
When people ask you how you are, do you find that your answer is usually a breathless: “busy—really busy”?
Given your constant state of doing, is your busyness adding up to what you want? If the answer is no, it’s time to slow down for a moment and see what’s going on with your practice.
Let’s start with the operations management concept, “anything that doesn’t work toward the goal works against the goal,” from Eliyahu Goldratt’s book
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. You may indeed be very, very busy with all kinds of great things all of the time—but is it the right kind of busy? Start by asking yourself what is your ultimate goal with your practice. Take a moment to write down your single most important goal. For example: “I will achieve Forum this year.”
Next, take a look at the pile on your desk, the commitments on your calendar and your recent activity. How many of the things that are making you so very busy are aligned with your goal? Write a list of your current actions and commitments such as this:
1) Set two new Facts per day
2) Joint work down
3) Help with interviews
4) Answer interns’ questions
5) Segment clients
6) Make travel plans for Annual Meeting
How many of these impact the Forum goal? You can see that they are all making a contribution and can all be defined, in general, as good things to do. Can you see how if you don’t know your ultimate goal, it’s easy to keep saying “yes” to everything? But what is that costing you? If you knew that you would fall short of Forum because you did too much joint work down, helped out with a few too many interviews, answered several too many pop-in questions and spent a little too much time on admin responsibilities would you make different choices?
I’m guessing your answer is a clear yes! So…how do you know when to say yes or no to all of the requests and opportunities? Come back to this question every time: Does this activity work toward the goal?” If the answer is no, you may not have the time, energy or resources to give right now. That doesn’t mean that you will never do these things, it just may mean limiting them or deferring them to the future when they may become your goal.
If you struggle to say no sometimes because you worry about letting others down, consider this. Once you achieve your goal you will have only more to give. For example, by achieving Forum you can add to your staff and stretch your own time.
The next time someone asks you how you are, my hope for you is that you have made enough changes in your life to line up with your ultimate goal. Imagine that you can answer, “I’m busy. But the right kind of busy. See you on stage.” You can do it.