Picture of a gift

“The real key to success and to reaching your potential lies in your ability to continually improve…when you set the right goals and work to reach them instead of simply staying busy, improvement is not only obtainable – it’s inevitable.”  John Maxwell

I’m currently reading Maxwell’s book 3 Things Successful People Do.  The quote above was like a gift from Maxwell to me.  Recently, I’ve been in a bit of a funk.  I’ve been staying busy but not feeling productive.  Have you ever fallen into that trap?  I think I did for a couple of reasons.

Failure to “Sharpen My Saw”

If you’re a fan of Stephen Covey and the 7 Habits, you know all about sharpening the saw.  For those who don’t here is a quick summary.  Saw sharpening activities are the things that revive and energize us.  They also tend to be the first things we cut out when we’re busy.  I’m not a good saw sharpener.  For that reason I allowed myself to become worn down and fell into a state of busyness but not productivity.  I was so busy working I didn’t take the time to sharpen my saw and do the things that enabled me to be successful in the first place.

I Quit Planning

Without planning there was no focus.  Because I quit planning I quit setting goals.  Without goals my work had no direction.  I was staying busy but I wasn’t accomplishing anything.  Each day I would decide what to do; I’d lost my long term vision.  My work became scattered and dominated by the urgent instead of the important.  I got caught up in activities that were easily defined, and easily completed.  I pushed aside the harder tasks that were more challenging and more threatening.  There was no learning, few challenges and no growth.

Maxwell’s book was timely for me.  It has helped me get focused and back on track.  I spent the morning in a planning session and laid out a plan for my life as well as my work.  I set goals, including goals about sharpening my saw.  As I look back over my life so far, it’s apparent I always had definable goals.  Those goals gave me direction and allowed me to accomplish much of what I have thus far in my life.  Looking back now it seems absurd that I would have quit planning and setting goals, but I did.  I allowed myself to get too busy and I lost focus.

I want to encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the current state of your work and your life.  What did you learn?  Use the comments section to share your thoughts and insights.

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