What’s Important?

bookends2What’s Important?


Did Lucy Ricardo Stop to Ask?

Remember the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy worked in the candy factory wrapping chocolates? Remember how the conveyor belt shot so many chocolate candies out that Lucy couldn’t keep up and so she popped handfuls of them into her mouth? Even if you’re too young to have seen the original episode or never saw the rerun, can’t you just picture that scene in your mind’s eye?

Well, I remind you of this image not just for a trip down memory lane but to draw a comparison to our busy lives. With To Do lists a mile long, email messages and in-boxes filled to overflowing, we too struggle to keep up. And as we do we can lose sight of what’s important.

We all agree that it’s become more critical than ever for us to be clear and focused on what is important, but how do we do that? Well, it boils down to this: the trick is to take time each morning to set our intentions for the day…our intention around the values we want to embody and our intention around “right actions.” And it’s up to each of us to name our top values and determine what constitutes “right action.”

Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve taken time to clarify your values. Maybe it’s been awhile since you put together or revised your life plan, business plan, or marketing strategy. Maybe you’ve never put them together at all. Why not schedule an appointment with yourself to do so or at least to begin?

The appointment doesn’t have to be formal. It could even be an hour at a coffee shop or a few hours in the garden, where you spend time mulling over and identifying what’s important. Time for you to stop the chocolate conveyor-belt of life and regroup. The plans don’t have to be formal either, if that’s what’s stopping you. Just start somewhere.

I think it’s important to begin and end each day with regroup time. “Bookends” I call it. “Bookends” are comprised of two daily segments. First is a brief time in the morning where you name what is most important for the day—not just the Doing, but the Being. Second is a break before retiring for the night to check in and ask yourself: Was I able to focus on what’s important? What did I do that helped me do so? What got in the way? How can I change that in the future? What will I have to say “Yes” to and what will I have to say “No” to, so that I can keep on track?

Creating lives that reflect our values and top priorities takes “discipline.” I’ve found that this word makes some people shudder. Does it do so for you? If so, be your own coach here. Understand and embrace discipline for the gifts it brings. The roots of this wonderful word are found in the word “disciple.”

So I ask, are you willing to become a disciple of what is important to you? Beyond naming what’s important, are you acting on it? And if not now, then when?

Bookends™ Exercise

Try this: Try my Bookend exercise tomorrow. It only takes 10 minutes in the morning and another 10 minutes before bed.

To prepare, put a pen and pad of paper on your nightstand or elsewhere beside your bed tonight, so it is waiting for you tomorrow morning. Set your alarm so that you awaken 10 minutes before your usual wake-up time.

Upon awakening:

  • Take a moment to sit up, stretch and greet the day. Now think about the attitude or state of Being that you want to bring forward into your day today. Examples: Appreciation, Confidence, Self-Compassion.
  • Write down that state of Being you want to focus on today.
  • Now think about the area of your life and/or business that is of most importance to you right now. Of all the To Do’s that are before you today, which action is going to further your progress in that area or deepen your learning? Example: writing or drafting a business plan.
  • Write that action on your notepad.
  • Take another moment to contemplate how you will integrate the Being and Doing focus that you have listed. Imagine that you are placing that value or state of Being right into your heart and will carry it with you as you take the important action(s) you need to take today.
  • Example of how this could look: Writing a business plan while Being in a state of Self-Compassion could mean I pour myself a cup of tea and sip it while I write the plan, extend self-compassion by not insisting the plan be perfect, and turn off the ringer on my phone so I am not disturbed.

Reminder: It is more important that you remember you can always return to that state of Being throughout the day, than it is that you give yourself a new mandate to try and stay in that state. Being mindful that you have let your focus slip from, say Self-Compassion, you can apply the 4-step centering process I use and teach my clients: Stop, Breathe, Notice, Choose ™ and gently bring yourself back to your desired state of Being as you Do the next important task in your day.

Upon retiring for the day:

  • Write a few sentences about the exercise for the day. How did it go? What worked well? Where were you able to stay in the state of Being you selected and/or return to that state when you veered off the path? What did you learn? What will you do differently if faced with similar circumstances?
  • Extend appreciation to yourself for your commitment to What’s Important.

Once you put this exercise into action, leave a comment and let me know how it went.

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