Why are they guiding my life?

If we don’t prioritize our life someone else will - Greg McKeown “Essentialism"

A good friend recently recommended the book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and I'm so glad he did. I was listening to it on a run recently when I heard a statement that literally stopped me in my tracks:

"If we don't prioritize our life someone else will."

Like I said, I literally stopped my run to type the phrase in my notes app in order to quickly come back to it.

The statement summarized the preceding ten minutes of the book where the author explained how often our desire to please everyone else often leaves us saying "yes" to things that don't matter. Truth is, you see this in work environments all the time.

We are trained to say "YES, YES, YES" to every meeting, every extra task, everything.

Before we know it we've lost any semblance of productivity and find ourselves in countless meetings with more tasks than we can manage. We work long hours and continue to find ourselves spinning our wheels with little true productive output.

If you've ever found yourself in a corporate environment you know how true this can be, and for most people, it's just what you do. Stay there long enough and you may even start to think it's crazy that there is another way, but there is.

How? By learning to say "yes" to less and "no" to more.

I remember a piece of advice I was given while doing consulting for HP. My boss and I were doing a semi-annual review and he offered a piece of advice I've since shared with others as many times as possible.

"Chris," he said, "Don't do everything I ask you to do."

What? Was my boss really telling me it was okay to tell him "no"? He went on to explain that I was responsible for a couple of key things. These were the results I must produce. He said that I would be asked by him (and others) to do a lot of things, but he would trust me to decide when those things would derail me from my core objectives.

I was responsible for managing my personal capacity, he said, and not him.

Whether or not you have a boss as candid and empowering as I did, the point remains. You are responsible for your life and your capacity. What you say "yes" to can either point you in the direction of your goals or steer you further away with distractions.

On a daily basis we should be evaluating everything we say "yes" to, and ultimately we should be saying "no" more often than we're saying "yes".

That is how you ensure YOU are the one prioritizing your life, and not someone else.

Chris CapehartComment