I was tempted to title this article, The Secret to Getting Your Act Together, but truth is, it’s no secret…if you live long enough and suffer long enough, you’ll eventually figure it out for yourself. Let me save you a little time and some pain.
Time is the only currency you have with real value. The good news is, you generally get to decide how you’re going to spend that time. Unfortunately, most people spend their time doing things that have little value other than fulfilling delusions…some imposed by others…and most, self-imposed. I once asked a psychotherapist colleague what she had learned in her 30-year practise. Her answer blew me away. She said:
We all emerge from childhood somewhat bent. Some are bent more than others. A few of the bent spend their lives trying to straighten up and see the world as it is. Most however, just try to figure out how to walk bent over as efficiently as possible.
And the place where the latter spend their time is in what I call The Middle Zone of the Bell curve…the place filled with delusions and pseudo obligations about all the things You Think You Have to Do. In the meantime, most of your dreams and many of your real obligations, get crammed into these tiny time zones at the front and back of the Bell curve. Here’s the paradox:
Most people spend the greatest time on the things that matter the least.
The first step in getting your act together is to question every event, opportunity, invitation, or request by asking a few questions:
- Is this important? Why?
- Do I really want to do it?
- What will happen if I don’t do it?
- Is there a gracious way out of it?
- What am I sacrificing by doing it, i.e., what else could I be doing that would be more meaningful?
The ultimate goal is to flip the Bell curve over into a bowl shape…spend the most amount of time doing the things that you truly like to do, and fulfilling the real obligations that will make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. I can’t tell you what you should like…that’s a matter of personal preference. I can give you some hints about the things you might really have to do: If you’re going to have them…spend time with your kids. And I don’t mean just quality time, I mean quantity time. Take care of your elderly parents. Visit sick friends in the hospital and give them comfort. Do excellent work in a job with purpose. I’m sure you’ll think of a few more.
None of this is easy because it involves cutting through delusions and neuroticism. Get professional help if you need it. Try to stand up…your back will hurt at first, but it’s worth it.
Dr. Courmanopoulos is the Senior Partner and CEO of Medius International Inc, a global consulting firm leveraging the latest evidence-based Psychology in three areas: Intelligence, Strategy, and Organizational Development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the firm’s web site at: www.mediusinternational.com